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Blair warns of rogue nuclear strikes By George Jones, Political Editor (Filed: 15/09/2001)

A BLEAK warning that terrorists would be prepared to use nuclear weapons if they could get hold of them was given by Tony Blair yesterday.

Tony Blair gives his statement to the House The Prime Minister called for a "dramatic rethink" of the way democratic countries tackled international terrorists.

Tuesday's "hideous and foul" events showed that there were no longer any moral limits on their methods of killing or the number of victims, he said.

Mr Blair said that anyone who had suggested a week ago that thousands of innocent people would have been killed by terrorists in New York would have been described as "alarmist". But it had happened.

He said: "We know that they would, if they could, go further and use chemical or biological or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction." There were groups of people and occasionally states, who traded the technology and capability for such weapons.

Mr Blair said: "It is time this trade was exposed, disrupted and stamped out. We have been warned by the events of Sept 11. We should act on the warning."

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said "people who have the fanaticism and capability to fly an airliner laden with passengers and fuel into a skyscraper will not be deterred by human decency from deploying chemical or biological weapons, missiles or nuclear weapons or other forms of mass destruction".

Mr Blair used yesterday's emergency recall of Parliament to signal a concerted drive to track down and root out terrorist groups. He said that states that continued to harbour international terrorists would be regarded "as an enemy themselves".

Iain Duncan Smith, in his first Commons speech as Tory leader, praised the Prime Minister for responding "quickly and resolutely" to the crisis and giving a lead to other nations who valued freedom and democracy.

He promised full support for Mr Blair's pledge to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the United States, Britain's strongest friend and ally. "Together we must make sure that the perpetrators are hunted down and brought to justice," he said.

The Commons was packed for Mr Blair's statement on the terrorist outrages in America. A few seconds before 11am, debates in the Commons and Lords were interrupted to allow MPs and peers to join the nation in a three-minute silence.

Mr Blair said that the death count of Britons - which is expected to total several hundreds - was of "epoch-making proportions". Murder of British people in New York was no different to their "murder in the heart of Britain".

Party political hostilities were cast aside for the day, and there was overwhelming support for British support of American action to identify and punish the perpetrators.

But several MPs expressed doubts. Labour's Tam Dalyell said that if innocent people were killed in retaliation more terrorists would be recruited.

George Galloway, Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin, said that a retaliation attack by the US against a Muslim country would create "10,000 Osama bin Ladens".

Mr Blair insisted that Britain had "an obligation" to bring those responsible to justice and would stand by America in its time of need. He emphasised that President Bush had not "lashed out" in response to the attacks.

The US was proceeding with care, assembling hard evidence against those responsible and "their very deliberation is a measure of the seriousness of their intent".

Officials confirmed the Government was reviewing extradition laws and would also consider the question of introducing identity cards.

Action was needed to destroy the "machinery of terror" by finding out how terrorist groups were financed, their money laundered and the links between terror and organised crime.

Countries harbouring international terrorists would have to withdraw their protection or be treated as enemies themselves.

Mr Blair will discuss the fight against world terrorism with Gerhard Schroder, the German Chancellor, during private talks in Berlin on Wednesday.

Lord Robertson, the Nato Secretary General, will then visit Berlin for talks with Mr Schroder and other senior figures on Thursday.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 19, 2001

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