Annan says world no safer


Sun 17 October, 2004 11:22

LONDON (Reuters) - The Iraq war has done little to increase security across the world or halt the activities of international terrorists, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says.

Annan said in a television interview on Sunday that the international community now had a lot to do to improve security.

"I cannot not say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq," he told the Dimbleby programme on ITV television.

"We have a lot of work to do as an international community to try and make the world safer."

A transcript of Annan's interview, due to be broadcast later on Sunday, was made available to media.

Annan also dismissed suggestions that France, Russia and China had, before the recent Iraq war, been prepared to ease sanctions on Iraq in return for oil contracts.

Disputing claims made in the final report of the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group which suggested Saddam Husse in had manipulated the U.N.'s oil-for-food programme in an attempt to win Security Council support for lifting sanctions, Annan said it was "inconceivable" the three countries were influenced.

"I don't think the Russian or the French or the Chinese government would allow itself to be bought because some of his companies are getting relative contracts of the Iraqi authorities. I don't believe that at all," he said.

"It's inconceivable. These are very serious and important governments. You are not dealing with banana republics."

Annan said he believed Iraq was now on track to hold elections at the end of January, but stressed that he would speak out if they were not conducted satisfactorily.

"If that sort of judgment or any decision which is made which we think detracts from the credibility and viability of the elections, we will be duty bound to say so," he said.

Asked about Iran, which the United States has accused of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, Annan warned against considering any kind of military action.

"To undertake an operation of that kind would not be helpful at all. I don't even want to contemplate it because I think it would be very unwise."

He said if Washington were to decide to go for military action against Iran, it would probably be illegal under the U.N. charter. "I think that would be the view of the members of the council," he said.