- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2003

GENEVA — Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, dismissing U.S. charges that Cuba is developing weapons of mass destruction as the words of a “liar,” says Bush administration policies have made the risk of U.S. invasion “a real, present danger for us.”

Mr. Alarcon, a former foreign minister and one of the founders of the Cuban Revolution, took strong exception to remarks by Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton.

Mr. Bolton on Dec. 2 named Cuba along with Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya as rogue states “whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to U.S. interests [and who] will learn that their covert programs will not escape either detection or consequences.”

“He’s a liar,” Mr. Alarcon said of Mr. Bolton during a recent interview in Geneva.

Noting that the United States had cited Saddam Hussein’s suspected weapons programs as justification for the invasion of Iraq, he said: “The risk of [Cuba] being attacked at this time — when preventive attacks have become a new American doctrine — is a real, present danger for us.”

Successive U.S. administrations have pressured the communist regime in Cuba to abandon its one-party state model and allow the nation of 11 million to embrace democracy, private enterprise and human rights.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, have repeatedly said when asked about the possibility of using military force against Cuba that they were not considering it “at this moment.”

But Mr. Alarcon noted that Mr. Powell “did not say Cuba is excluded.”

“That is a very aggressive statement,” he said.

Mr. Alarcon, 66, also said there have been other tough statements from the U.S. administration, including an Oct. 10 declaration from President Bush that “clearly the Castro regime will not change by its own choice, but Cuba must change.”

Perhaps, Mr. Alarcon said, “Some people within this administration are interested in building up, creating an atmosphere that may be conducive to use military force against us.”

The Cuban parliamentary leader said Mr. Bush’s statement amounted to a call for “regime change imposed from outside.”

“That is exactly what they have done in Iraq. It is finally recognized that those are the real motivations, and not this joke about WMDs and the various excuses they use sometimes. We have to prepare ourselves. We do not play games with that. It’s very crucial for us.”

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