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After Iraq, rogue nations won't be spared: Hoon

If you thought the war on Iraq is over, wait. This could be just the first of many more to come.

world Updated: Apr 09, 2003 18:03 IST

If you thought the war on Iraq is over, wait. This could be just the first of many more to come.

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has said that pre-emptive military strikes against rogue nations that sponsor terrorism are likely to become more common.

Hoon said in a speech to the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction were the gravest threats to countries worldwide.

"Other countries which do not yet have these weapons harbour aspirations to acquire them," he said. And these would be targeted.

Hoon said that new regimes would acquire such weapons over the, next three decades. No such weapons have been found in Iraq, but Hoon said "we will find them".

He said the international community must act now "to enhance and enforce legal and political constraints on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".

Hoon said such strikes would have be to discussed by "key players" like the UN and Nato, but stopped short of saying that their permission would be absolutely necessary.

Hoon's statement follows a warning from US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Syria and Iran that they must stop supporting Iraq or face Washington's wrath.

US President George Bush earlier named Iran and North Korea as a part of the "axis of evil" along with Iraq. There are growing fears in Syria and North Korea that the US military could target them next.

Hoon's new threat follows his insistence that the British and US troops have a right to use cluster bombs and to fire rockets made with depleted uranium. He says such weapons are necessary to ensure the safety of British troops.

The new policy of targeting what the US and Britain consider "rogue states" over the next 30 years are set to widen the rift between Britain on the one hand and France and Germany on the other.

Hoon's speech in Copenhagen is being seen as the end of hopes that the rift in Europe can be covered over now that the attack on Iraq has approached endgame.

With the future of the UN under threat already, an Anglo-American military axis is now seen as emerging, with the attack on Iraq as only its first venture.

First Published: Apr 09, 2003 15:48 IST