US names the 'rogue states'

FROM DAMIAN WHITWORTH IN WASHINGTON

THE United States has accused Iraq and five other countries of developing biological weapons and said that a rogue state may have supported attempts by Osama bin Laden to wage germ warfare. The decision to name countries came as the Bush Administration again said that Iraq could be a future target in the war on terrorism.

John Bolton, the UnderSecretary of State for Arms Control, made the charge yesterday at a conference in Geneva of the 144 nations that have signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

He said that the existence of Iraq’s germ warfare programme was beyond dispute and that the US suspected North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan of developing similar programmes.

Mr Bolton did not say that any of the rogue states had been involved in the anthrax attacks in America or had helped bin Laden to get biological weapons.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian Ambassador to the conference, said the allegation that his country was developing biological weapons was unjustified and baseless.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, highlighted US suspicions of Iraq’s terrorist involvement when he linked the Baghdad regime to terrorists in the Philippines. There had been “a good deal of interaction between the terrorists in the Philippines and the al-Qaeda and people in Iraq”.

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