Reuters (with additional material by AP). 30 January 2002. Iran, Iraq, North Korea Dismiss Bush Accusations.
LONDON and MANILA -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea on Wednesday rejected an accusation by President Bush that they form an "axis of evil" developing weapons of mass destruction to threaten America and the world. Iran said Bush's remarks smacked of a desire for hegemony, Iraq suggested they presaged a U.S. attack on Baghdad and North Korea saw them as evidence of a "policy of aggression." "The world will not accept U.S. hegemony," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi retorted Wednesday. "The American president had better back up his assertions with evidence instead of repeating old and unfounded claims." "Bush intends to divert public opinion from the Middle East issue and to prepare the domestic grounds for continuing his support of Israel in its brutal oppression of the Palestinian nation," state radio quoted Kharrazi as saying. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ridiculed Bush's remarks. "It is amazing that Bush, officially and in a combative tone, describes ... Iran, Iraq and North Korea as terrorists," he told a gathering of journalists from Muslim countries. "It is possible that Americans will cheer Bush as the congressmen did, but we will not be threatened by such aggressive language," state television quoted him as saying. Bush's remarks appeared to mark a new setback to already flagging prospects for better U.S.-Iranian ties. In Baghdad, a senior Iraqi parliamentarian said the U.S. leader was laying the groundwork for another U.S. assault on Iraq, whose troops were driven from Kuwait in 1991 by a coalition led by his father, former president George Bush. "Little Bush's accusation against Iraq is baseless," Salim al-Qubaisi, head of the Iraqi parliament's foreign and Arab relations committee, told Reuters. "The American administration led by Bush has been threatening Iraq from time to time to prepare world public opinion for a new aggression against Iraq," said Qubaisi, who is also a senior official of the ruling Baath Party. "But such threats do not scare us, as the Iraqi people are well prepared to repel any aggression or foolishness by the American-Zionist administration," he added. North Korea's official media scoffed at Bush for identifying the country as a threat. "The U.S. loudmouthed 'threat' from the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is sophism intended to justify its military presence in South Korea and persistently pursue the policy of aggression against the DPRK," said a newspaper commentary carried by the north Asian state's official news agency. South Korean President Kim Dae-jung responded by stressing the importance of peace with its neighbor. "It is important to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in North-South relations," Kim told the cabinet. "Our economic future depends on North-South relations." The Philippines, a longtime U.S. ally, bristled Wednesday at President Bush's warning that if countries do not deal with terrorist activities on their soil, "America will." The speech aired in the Philippines as its Congress debated the constitutionality of exercises with U.S. troops that will open Thursday. "It's clear in my mind that one president of a friendly country does not threaten another friendly country," Justice Secretary Hernando Perez said. "We do seek assistance from them in case of need, but that doesn't mean they will run the foreign policy of our country." "Some people would want to interpret it to mean that the U.S. will impose its will, but we're a self-respecting sovereign state," Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said. Rep. Saturnino Ocampo, a former spokesman for Marxist rebels, said Bush's statement "exactly portrays the arrogant stance of the U.S. to justify its unilateral action and intervention in other countries in the name of fighting terrorism." Munawaar Hasan, a leader of Pakistan's main fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, called America the biggest patron of terrorism because it supports oppressive regimes. He said Bush's crackdown on jihad groups will further fuel anger among Muslims around the world. "Jihadi groups have been formed in reaction to the state terrorism of countries like India, Israel, Russia," he said. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews