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Saddam's 'final opportunity to comply'

Saddam's 'final opportunity to comply'

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has warned Saddam Hussein that Iraq has a 'final opportunity to comply with international law' as weapon inspectors return to Iraq.

The fact weapons that inspectors had been allowed to return to Iraq vindicated the robust approach taken on the issue, he added.

Mr Straw said:

"You have to back sensitive diplomacy with a credible threat of force for the diplomacy to work."

Responding to reports of a possible gas attack on the London Underground, the Foreign Secretary said he knew of no specific threat, but that 'People have however to be on the alert because it is public that we are one of a number of countries which the Al Qa'ida organisation would wish to target if they could.'

The Foreign Secretary made his comments during a BBC TV interview. To read an edited transcript visit the FCO website.

In an earlier statement on the return of weapons inspectors, Mr Straw said:

"As the UN weapons inspectors prepare to re-enter Iraq, I have every confidence in Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei and their teams. The international community knows they will report back to the Security Council without fear or favour. But if Iraq tries to obstruct their work or embarks on another elaborate game of hide and seek, the patience of the international community will run out. Let Saddam Hussein be in no doubt of our resolve that he should now disarm or be disarmed of his weapons of mass destruction.

"The inspectors are returning because we have backed our diplomacy with the credible threat of force. Resolution 1441 sets out a pathway towards a peaceful outcome. But we know from Saddam's past behaviour that he will not choose that path without the threat. It is time to end the decade of obstruction and deceit."

ENDS

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