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Nelson Mandela: The United States of America is a Threat to World Peace

11 September 2002

One of the world's most respected statesmen, Nelson Mandela, has condemned United States intervention in the Middle East as "a threat to world peace".

In an interview with the US magazine, Newsweek published on Wednesday, the former South African president repeated his call for President George Bush not to launch attacks on Iraq.

He said that Mr Bush was trying to please the American arms and oil industries.

And Mr Mandela, 84, called some of Mr Bush's senior advisors, including Vice President Dick Cheney "dinosaurs".

He said that the United States' backing for a coup by the Shah of Iran in 1953 had led to that country's Islamic revolution in 1979.

On Afghanistan, Mr Mandela said that US support for the mujahideen (including Osama Bin Laden) against the Soviet Union and its refusal to work with the United Nations after the Soviet withdrawal led to the Taleban taking power.

"If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace," he said.

No evidence

Mr Mandela said that the US was clearly afraid of losing a vote in the United Nations Security Council.

"It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America," he said.

He said that no evidence had been presented to support the claim that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, while former UN weapons inspector in Baghdad Scott Ritter has said there is no such evidence.

"But what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody mentions that," he said.

The former South African leader made it clear that the only member of the Bush team he respects is Colin Powell.

He called Mr Cheney a "dinosaur" and an "arch-conservative" who does not want Mr Bush "to belong to the modern age."

Mr Mandela recalled that Mr Cheney had been opposed to his release from prison.

Tim Radford
Published by the BBC © 2002 BBC

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