By STEPHANIE RUBEC, OTTAWA BUREAU, SUN MEDIA
May 11, 2004
Prime Minister Paul Martin says he believes Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and they've fallen into terrorists' hands. Martin said the threat of terrorism is even greater now than it was following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because terrorists have acquired nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from the toppled Iraqi leader.
"The fact is that there is now, we know well, a proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that many weapons that Saddam Hussein had, we don't know where they are," Martin told a crowd of about 700 university researchers and business leaders in Montreal. "That means terrorists have access to all of that."
'NOT OUT OF IT YET'
The PM's comments run counter to opinions expressed by leaders in such countries as France and Germany who have accused the U.S. and Britain of fudging evidence of WMDs to justify the war against Iraq.
When asked to assess the threat level since Saddam was captured by U.S. troops, Martin said he believes it has increased.
"I believe that terrorism will be, for our generation, what the Cold War was to generations that preceded us," he said. "I don't think we're out of it yet."
Martin disagreed with former prime minister Jean Chretien, who publicly blamed poverty for terrorism and the Sept. 11 attacks. "The cause of terrorism is not poverty, it is hatred."
He said he'll lead the charge to convince countries to join forces to combat terrorism and make sure the Third World has the tools to stamp it out.
Martin said he's lobbying the international community to set up an informal organization to tackle world issues such as terrorism.
GETS NOD FROM BUSH
He said he got the nod from U.S. President George Bush during his visit last month to Washington, D.C., and will take his idea to the European Union and Latin America next.