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Sunday, August 23, 1998 Published at 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK


UK says 'embassies bomber' wants chemical weapons

The UK government says Osama bin Laden is planning further bombings

The UK Government has said it has "convincing evidence" that Osama bin Laden, the man said to be behind the attacks on US embassies in East Africa, has been trying to acquire chemical and biological weapons.

George Robertson tells Radio 4's The World This Weekend: We will protect our embassies
Dismissing reported threats from the Saudi dissident and his followers, Defence Secretary George Robertson said he would do everything he could to protect all British citizens abroad from "terrorism" and warned of "dire" consequences if British embassies were bombed.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, Mr Robertson also insisted chemical weapons were being developed at the factory in Sudan flattened by an American missile strike.

[ image:  ]
"We have independent evidence ourselves that Bin Laden and others were seeking to acquire chemical and biological weapons in order to prosecute the kind of campaign that we know they were involved in," he said.

The defence secretary said it was not easy to distinguish between an ordinary chemical plant and one that could make toxins that could be used against civilians.

"But the Americans have that convincing evidence and that led them to make the attack that they did.

"They also had the same evidence that we had independently acquired that Bin Laden was involved in the east African bomb atrocities and that he had plans for more such atrocities."

The Ministry of Defence declined to give any further details of the evidence.

"We wouldn't comment on intelligence matters," a spokesman said.

'Staying put'

[ image: The Sudanese authorities say the bombed factory produced medicines]
The Sudanese authorities say the bombed factory produced medicines
The authorities in Khartoum, who have denied any "terrorist" link, have asked the United Nations to organise an inspection to disprove American and British allegations.

The strikes have provoked outrage and demonstrations across the Muslim world.

Staff in the British Embassy in Sudan announced on Sunday they would be "staying put" despite the possibility of further violence.

The embassy was attacked by a stone-throwing mob on Saturday.

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