UK says Saddam broadcast 'not live'
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UK says Saddam broadcast 'not live'

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the latest television appearance by the Iraqi President was not a live broadcast and offered no proof that he was still alive.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2003 19:53 IST

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said on Mondaythe latest television appearance by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was not a live broadcast and offered no proof that he was still alive.

Hoon said, "As far as the pictures this morning are concerned, obviously analysis continues. But what I can say straight away is that those pictures were not live."

"We are well aware that he spent many hours recently tape-recording various messages. We have to do a little more analysis of what he was actually saying to see whether or not that in fact was Saddam Hussein."

Hoon noted there were no unambiguously contemporary events mentioned in the broadcast.

"Had he have wanted to indicate that this was live or recent, there were many events that he could have referred to which he clearly did not."

Hoon added: "I do not think it makes a great difference to our military campaign whether he is alive or dead."

Despite setbacks, Hoon said progress in the campaign so far had been good and was "proceeding according to our strategic plan" but he warned the conflict would not be quick or easy.

"This is not some computer game," he said. "This is a difficult, demanding, sophisticated, complicated military operation. It won't be over in a matter of days."

Delivery of humanitarian aid through the port of Umm Qasr may be held up for days while mine-sweeping is completed.

Hoon was fierce in his criticism of how the Iraqis had treated American prisoners shown live on Iraqi television.

"The surge of Iraqi propaganda in the last day or two, and what appears to be the disgusting treatment and exploitation of American prisoners of war, are the actions of a desperate regime that knows its time is coming to an end," he said.

Hoon said a pattern was emerging of regular troops generally surrendering while a rump of Saddam's "thugs" from Republican Guard and other higher-level units was resisting.

On reports that a chemical weapons plant had been found near the city of Najaf, Hoon said, "I think for the moment it is better to remain cautious because the case has not yet been proven."

First Published: Mar 24, 2003 19:53 IST