Stop squirming says US
Le Worm ... Chirac warned over UN veto
By TREVOR KAVANAGH - Political Editor
SUN - UK - 26 Feb:
AMERICA last night dramatically warned French President Jacques “Le Worm” Chirac not to veto UN moves to disarm Saddam Hussein.
In an astonishing slap-down, the US envoy to France said any attempt by France to scupper military action would be seen as “very unfriendly”.
Ambassador Howard Leach said in Paris: “France and the United States can do many things together. I hope we will continue to work together.
“I hope there won’t be a veto because a veto would be very unfriendly and we wouldn’t look kindly upon it.”
The ambassador’s blunt public warning, authorised by President George Bush, was the nearest thing to a declaration of diplomatic war.
Strutting President Chirac is opposed to any move to topple Saddam, an old pal who has supplied Iraqi oil in return for French nuclear power components.
The envoy’s words were also pitched at German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and at Belgium, who are backing French moves to let Saddam off the hook.
And they will be heeded in Moscow and Beijing where leaders are weighing up the risk of angering the world’s only superpower.
America is determined to oust Saddam, who yesterday challenged Mr Bush to a live TV debate.
The US leader is unlikely to forgive Chirac if he succeeds in splitting the West when the UN Security Council votes — expected to be on March 7.
His proposal gives Iraq five months to co-operate with weapon inspectors.
Americans are already boycotting French wine, food and car imports.
The French economy is wobbly and a full-blown trade war with America could plunge it into recession.
Last night Saddam played for time again after suddenly “finding” proof he destroyed his stock of chemical and biological weapons.
Iraqi scientists claim they have discovered 100 documents recording disposal of weapons of mass destruction in 1991.
They also claimed they had found an R-400 bomb containing liquid in an area known as the site of biological weapons research.
Gullible UN weapons chief Hans Blix swallowed the stunt hook, line and sinker. “These are positive developments,” he said.
But the new evidence does little to reveal the whereabouts of thousands of tons of chemical and biological weapons which have been concealed from inspectors.
Earlier, Tony Blair held secret talks with the American commander who will lead US and British forces into war against Saddam.
The PM met General Tommy Franks in Downing Street to discuss battle plans and likely dates for the first air strikes.
The talks covered Chirac’s disastrous bid to split the West over Iraq.
Moments later, the Prime Minister blasted Chirac’s “folly and weakness” for torpedoing moves towards a military showdown.
Looking tired but determined, Mr Blair demolished French arguments against swift military action.
But he risks a major revolt from leftie MPs tonight in a Commons debate on Iraq.
Up to 150 backbenchers are tipped to vote against him or abstain, but pro-war Tories will guarantee victory.
The PM warned Saddam risks squandering his “final” chance to disarm.
“Even now we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully,” he said.
“It takes no time at all for Saddam to co-operate.
Mr Blair told the Commons: “I do not want war. I do not believe anyone in this House wants war, but disarmament peacefully can only happen with Saddam’s active co-operation.”
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, who rose to groans, asked:
“Why are you so fundamentally hostile to the memorandum that the French and others have now tabled? Does it not offer a better route forward?”
We're gunner get Saddam
Fly the flag ... a British Challenger tank commander
close to the Iraq border in Kuwait yesterday
BRITISH troops preparing for war in the Gulf last night confirmed their rifles are faultless.
Royal Marine commandos have test-fired thousands of bullets over the past fortnight without a single SA80 Mark II jamming.
They praised the modified rifles — once prone to seizing up in the desert — as they met Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon in Kuwait.
The Sun exposed faulty SA80s during last year’s Afghan war.
The story sparked an £80million overhaul and soldiers received fresh training on maintenance.
Mr Hoon told The Sun: “Our men and women are really up for it. They know they are the best.”
Jacques knickers in a twist
TONY Blair stripped Jacques Chirac down to his ludicrous tricolour underpants yesterday.
He exposed the French President’s naked ambition to seize the leadership of the EU — and split the West.
And he revealed the “folly and weakness” of those who want to let evil Saddam off the hook — including scores of his own MPs.
He reminded doubters about Saddam’s son-in-law who revealed the existence of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons — and paid for it with his life.
Opponents of military action were alarmed by ex-Premier John Major’s warning that Saddam might hurl nerve gas or anthrax at Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel if he is cornered.
But this is exactly why this ruthless oppressor built his ghastly weapons in the first place — to intimidate his neighbours and to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
The whole world signed up to the UN resolution which ordered Saddam to disarm.
This is not just a test for Saddam but for all 191 UN member states.
China and Russia will not let Chirac drag them into his personal feud with America. They know US forces will soon topple Saddam.
They won’t want to be left on the wrong side as TV cameras reveal the vile weapons this dictator has already used on so many of his own people.
We may not see another unanimous Security Council vote for action, but nothing will now stop a swift war and the long overdue end of an appalling despot.