Sep 16, 2006

Muslim nations need nuclear weapons - Tun Mahathir

Extracted from REUTERS
Muslim nations need nuclear weapons, says Mahathir

ISLAMABAD, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Muslim nations should have nuclear weapons to deter their enemies, Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday in Islamabad, but added that his ideal would be global nuclear disarmament.

Mahathir, addressing a seminar in the Pakistani capital, flayed U.S. foreign policy and Israel, and said Muslims were enjoined by their faith to defend themselves.

"They need to have nuclear nuclear weapons too, because only (through) the possession of such would their enemies be deterred from attacking them," Mahathir said in a speech titled "Clash of Civilisations or Clash of Interests".

Speaking in the one Islamic country to have developed a nuclear arsenal, and sharing the platform with cricketer-turned- politician Imran Khan, the sprightly 81-year-old received warm applause for his comments from the Pakistani audience.

Answering questions later, Mahathir, who remains a respected voice in the Islamic and developing world, said: "If you allow Israel to have nuclear weapons why shouldn't others?"

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it has nuclear weapons, though it is widely believed to possess them.

"While I think we should not be selective in determining which nations should have, and should not have, I think the best thing we could do is to say is that all nations should not have nuclear weapons and in particular this very, very, very belligerent United States," Mahathir said.

He was scathing over the Iraq war, saying far fewer Iraqis would have been killed under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.

"Is there a difference between being killed by democrats and being killed by dictators? If only we could ask those who died."

Mahathir also spoke of a "Jewish conspiracy in the United States", revisiting the subject of a speech he made in 2003 in which he said Jews ruled the world by proxy. His remarks caused an international uproar and overshadowed his retirement days later after 22 years in power.

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