Briton warns Hussein against 'bluff'


LONDON -- British Defense Secretary Tom King warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein yesterday that "no amount of threats or bluff" would prevail in the Persian Gulf crisis.

"He is trying to bluff his way out," Mr. King said. "We see now a continuing succession of threats of one sort or another."

In an extensive interview on the British Broadcasting Corp., Mr. King said: "The reality is that the stakes are too high now, the U.N. is too heavily committed to calling for an end to the aggression, and that the whole world order is now being challenged by Saddam Hussein."

Mr. King called on the U.S.-led multinational coalition to hold firm, saying: "We must not blink. We must just keep repeating clearly the message that if he does not leave Kuwait, if Iraqi forces remain there, then there is a military option.

"We have to believe that in the end rational sense has to prevail. If he is otherwise embarked on causing the most appalling suffering for his people and for the Iraqi army, then he would stay there. But I do not think he is a madman. I think he is a very calculating person indeed."

Mr. King, who has ordered 34,000 British land, sea and air troops to the gulf, said that the buildup was under constant review but that no decision has been made on sending the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier HMS Invincible to the region.

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