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Blair Identifies Iraq as 'an Enormous Threat' - 2002-07-16


British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Iraq poses "an enormous threat" to global security during a historic appearance before a parliamentary committee. Mr. Blair told a joint meeting of parliamentary committee leaders that Iraq's program to develop weapons of mass destruction is the next major challenge facing the West.

Mr. Blair says no decision has been reached about a U.S.-led military attack to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But he also said he is not ruling out the option.

"I think [Iraq poses] an enormous threat to the world," he said. "How we deal with that, however, is an open question. And, that is why I constantly say to people there are no decisions that have been made in relation to Iraq at all, but there is no doubt that Iraq poses a threat in respect to weapons of mass destruction. And there is no doubt that this issue is an issue that should be dealt with." He added that last year's terrorist attacks in the United States show the consequences of ignoring a security threat.

Mr. Blair is the first British prime minister to appear before parliament's liaison committee, an umbrella group of leaders from more than 30 select committees.

Mr. Blair says he made the appearance to improve communications with the legislature. He has been accused of ignoring the views of parliament, where his ruling Labor party holds an overwhelming majority.