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British Prime Minister Delivers Radio Address to Iraqis - 2002-11-15

British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered a radio address late Thursday to the Iraqi people warning that Saddam Hussein must comply with U.N. demands or suffer the consequences.

Prime Minister Blair said Saddam Hussein must cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, or be prepared to face military action.

In an interview with Radio Monte Carlo's Arabic service Thursday, Mr. Blair said war could be avoided, if Iraq agreed to disarm.

"The situation is very clear," he said. "If Saddam Hussein agrees to disarm Iraq of all chemical, or biological or nuclear weapons programs and capability, then conflict will be avoided, and his duty is to cooperate fully with the inspectors to tell them exactly what material he has, to cooperate and comply with them in the eradication of that material."

Radio Monte Carlo is believed to be one of the most listened-to shortwave broadcasters in Iraq. The radio station claims to have more than 15 million listeners in the country, including Saddam Hussein himself.

The prime minister said he wanted to speak directly to the Iraqi people to try to dispel what he called myths that have arisen between Christians and Muslims. He said the dispute with Iraq is not about the West versus the East or about oil, but about weapons of mass destruction.

"The idea that this is about oil for us is absurd. If all we wanted was greater oil supplies, we could probably do a deal with Iraq or any other country on that basis," Mr. Blair said. "It really is about the issue to use weapons of mass destruction, because we know that Saddam has used these against his own people."

Mr. Blair went on to say that the prosperity of the Iraqi people would be greater, if money wasn't spent on weapons of mass destruction and the propping up of a repressive government.

Meanwhile, in a statement Friday, Britain's Catholic bishops urged British and American leaders to step away from the brink of war, saying there could be thousands of casualties on both sides.