Iraq arming its citizens, says Aziz

06 December 2002

Iraq has distributed hundreds of thousands of weapons to its citizens for use in the event of a US invasion, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in an interview on US television. He said it would take a 'miracle' to prevent US attack, and considered the search for weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to invade. However the arming of Iraqi citizens showed how confident the regime was of popular support. 'We are the only government in the world who gives weapons to its people. And that's because we are sure of the attitude of our people.'

Maintaining the momentum behind military action, the US on 4 December formally requested that NATO examine what support it could provide if war did break out. Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz did not ask for participation in the attack itself, but for such back-up as co-ordinating air and sea transport and refuelling, or protecting Turkey from the threat of retaliatory strikes by Iraq.

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