Accessibility links

Britain Sets Conditions For Possible US Action Against Iraq

Britain has said it will support U.S. military action against Iraq if the right conditions were met.

British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said there is growing concern about Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction.

In an interview on British radio Friday, Mr. Hoon said Britain would support American military action against Iraq if what he called "the right conditions were set out." However, Mr. Hoon said Iraq still has time to comply with Security Council resolutions and allow U.N. weapons inspections to resume.

"Absolutely no decisions have been taken about any prospect of an attack. And what is important to recognize is that there are a range of different approaches to dealing with Iraq. And we have followed a diplomatic, political approach," Mr. Hoon said.

Mr. Hoon said he would look carefully at an offer from Baghdad to let a British team into Iraq to look for evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. "Our concern about Iraq has always been their potential for developing weapons of mass destruction. The fact is that they have consistently refused to allow U.N. weapons inspections. And that must mean that we are deeply suspicious about what's going on," he said.

Speculation has risen about a potential U.S. military strike against Iraq since President Bush told Congress in January that Iraq forms an "axis of evil" along with Iran and North Korea.

The British and U.S. militaries have cooperated closely against Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War. To this day, the U.S. and British air forces patrol the skies of northern and southern Iraq to enforce U.N.-mandated no-fly zones.