A Pakistani newspaper says Osama bin Laden claims to have nuclear and chemical weapons and is prepared to use them against the United States.
In an interview published (today / Saturday) by Pakistan's English-language Dawn newspaper, the man accused of ordering the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington calls the weapons a "deterrent." The newspaper quotes the accused terrorist as saying he is ready to use them, if the United States uses chemical or nuclear weapons against him.
However, another version of the same interview, published today in the Urdu-language Pakistani Ausaf, omits mention of any claim by Osama bin Laden to possess nuclear or chemical weapons.
There was no immediate explanation about the difference in the text of the two interviews, and no independent confirmation of the reported comments by the Saudi fugitive.
In Washington, a White House spokesman says the United States takes such remarks very seriously and will do everything it can to prevent Osama bin Laden from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
The White House spokesman (Ken Lisaius) says the United States has long suspected that the accused terrorist has been trying to acquire chermical, biological and nuclear materials.
The Pakistani newspaper says the interview with Osama bin Laden was conducted severals days ago inside Afghanistan by a journalist, Hamid Mir, who is writing a biography of the accused terrorist. Mr. Mir is editor of the Urdu-language Ausaf newspaper.
In the interviews, Osama bin Laden claims the September attacks on the United States were justified, but does not admit responsibility for them. He says the targets of the attacks were, in his words, "America's icons of military and economic power."
He also criticizes Pakistan for cooperating with the United States and insists that, in his words, "only Afghanistan is an Islamic country."