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Sharon Alleges Libya Weapons Quest

September 4, 2002

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JERUSALEM (AP) _ Libya may become the first Arab country to acquire weapons of mass destruction, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Wednesday.

``Libya is becoming perhaps a more dangerous country than we thought,″ he said on Israel TV, adding Israel is gathering intelligence about the threat.

``Libya may be the first (Arab) country with weapons of mass destruction,″ he said.

Asked what kind of weapons of mass destruction, Sharon said only, ``Probably the bad kind,″ without further specifying if he was talking about nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Sharon said that North Korea, Iraq and maybe Pakistan are helping Libya’s President Moammar Gadhafi to develop new weapons, perhaps with Saudi Arabian money. But Sharon presented no evidence to back up his allegations.

The United States has accused Iraq of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said last month he can’t say with certainty that Baghdad actually has such armaments, but inspectors still have ``many open questions″ about Iraq’s capability.

Israel has prepared its population for the possibility that Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein will launch a chemical or biological weapons attack on Israel if the United States attacks Iraq, Sharon said.

Sharon said the decision about attacking Iraq is an ``American matter,″ adding, ``we fully support any American decision.″

In the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles into Israeli cities, causing extensive damage but few casualties. Israel wanted to retaliate but bowed to U.S. pressure and refrained.

Three weeks ago, the commander of the Israeli air force, Maj. Gen. Dan Halutz, said Israel would react if Saddam attacks it again.

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