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Sudan leader blames attack clinton { August 25 1998 }

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Sudan leader blames attack on Clinton's domestic problems
Turabi also says bin Laden not at war with U.S.

August 25, 1998
Web posted at: 8:54 p.m. EDT (0054 GMT)
KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN) -- The speaker of the Sudan parliament said Tuesday he does not believe that Osama bin Laden is at war with the United States and suggested that President Clinton's domestic troubles were behind the cruise missile attacks on a plant in Khartoum last week.

"I don't think that a single person can wage war against the United States," Hassan Turabi told CNN. "I don't support such slogans."

Turabi disagreed with the United States' hunt for bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire living in Afghanistan who is believed to support terrorist causes.

"I don't think targeting anybody is legitimate at all," he said, "unless by a minority which is persecuted by a dictatorship and has no means of expression."

Turabi also denied U.S. claims that the Shifa pharmaceutical plant was producing a chemical used to make lethal VX gas. "Everybody knows that this is a place where they manufacture medicines, and the Sudan is 50 percent dependent on that particular factory."

War of words intensifies

Turabi blamed Clinton's problems at home for the attack on Sudan.

"I think the president is haunted by all this campaign of Monica Lewinsky," he said. "If he lied to his own wife and betrayed his own matrimonial contract, and to his own Congress and his own courts, then it is much easier to lie across the world."

The war of words over the bombing intensified earlier in the day when the Sudanese government charged that the United States had not produced "convincing" evidence to corroborate its allegation.

Iraq also denied that it was involved in helping with the manufacture of a chemical that was "one step away" from the nerve gas VX.

U.S. intelligence sources claim they have a soil sample from the Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum that contains the non-toxic chemical EMPTA. EMPTA has no commercial use and does not occur naturally in the environment, according to an intelligence official.

It is, however, a precursor used in the manufacture of VX, an odorless, colorless liquid. A drop of VX on the skin can kill in a matter of minutes.

Plant may have made medicine, too

Sudan again firmly rejected the U.S. claims and insisted the plant was making urgently needed medicines only.

"How can we believe that they have taken the soil from here? They can take it from anywhere in the world and say that this is the sand taken from the factory in Shifa," said Mohammed al-Hassan al-Amin, political secretary of Sudan's National Congress, the only political organization in the country.

While the U.S. administration defended Thursday's destruction of the plant, Washington nevertheless conceded that the facility probably manufactured medicines as well as EMPTA.

"That facility very well may have been producing pharmaceuticals," State Department spokesman James Foley said.

U.S. intelligence sources also said Tuesday that the Sudanese owners of the pharmaceutical plant had held meetings with Iraqis close to Iraq's chemical weapons program.

A U.N. official told Reuters news agency that a product of the Khartoum factory had been approved by the United Nations for export to Iraq, which has had its own conflicts with the United States and the United Nations over VX.

Iraq denies 'chemical connections'

Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Nizar Hamdoon, rejected any allegations of illegal activities and said relations with Sudan had been purely "commercial."

He said Iraq had pharmaceutical contracts with the Sudanese government and that the bombed plant was, to his knowledge, the plant producing the medicines ordered by Iraq.

"We strongly deny that there has been any chemical connections" beyond that, Hamdoon added.

Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cia says intelligence faulty on 1998 sudan strike { April 23 2006 }
Panel says clinton didnt wag the dog { July 25 2004 }
Questions on clinton sudan strike 1998
Sudan 1998 us bombing { January 21 2003 }
Sudan calls for evidence nerve gas allegations { August 25 1998 }
Sudan factory wrong attack
Sudan leader blames attack clinton { August 25 1998 }
Sudan restores links uk { June 25 1999 }

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