ESHAWAR, Pakistan, Saturday, Nov. 10 A leading Pakistani newspaper published an interview with Osama bin Laden today in which he said, "We have chemical and nuclear weapons as a deterrent and if America used them against us, we reserve the right to use them."
The interview was published in the English-language daily Dawn. The newspaper said the interview was conducted on the night of Nov. 7 at "an undisclosed location near Kabul."
The correspondent, Hamid Mir, wrote that he had been taken blindfolded in a jeep from Kabul on Wednesday night, "to a place where it was extremely cold and one could hear the sound of anti-aircraft guns firing away," and that Mr. bin Laden arrived with about a dozen bodyguards.
Mr. Mir is also the editor of the daily Ausaf, an Urdu newspaper. It too published the interview today.
Mr. bin Laden, after claiming to possess nuclear and chemical weapons, declined to answer Mr. Mir's question on where he had acquired them. "Go to the next question," he said.
Western experts have said it is extremely unlikely that Mr. bin Laden possesses nuclear weapons, but it is clear that he has tried to acquire them. A former bin Laden aide who testified for the prosecution recently in the trial in Manhattan over the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998 said he had been sent to acquire uranium for such weapons in Sudan, but did not in the end make the purchase.
A White House spokesman, Ken Lisaius, said Friday night that the Bush administration was well aware of Mr. bin Laden's attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
"We have said that we suspected all along this organization was pursuing the acquistion of chemical, biological and nuclear materials," he said. "They have stated these goals themselves. We take those past statements seriously. We will do everything we can to prevent their acquisition of those materials."
Mr. Mir asked Mr. bin Laden if he could justify the deaths of "innocent people," including hundreds of Muslims, in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Mr. bin Laden called this a "major point of jurisprudence," replying that, "America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal." He said, "The Sept. 11 attacks were not targeted at women and children. The real targets were America's icons of military and economic power."
Mr. bin Laden blamed the "entire America" for "anti-Muslim policies."
"The American people should remember that they pay taxes to their government, they elect their president, their government manufactures arms and gives them to Israel and Israel uses them to massacre Palestinians," he said.
Late in the interview, Mr. bin Laden allowed that "there are many innocent and good-hearted people in the West." But, he said, "The Jewish lobby has taken America and the West hostage."
Mr. Mir, a widely respected Pakistani journalist, has said that he had met Mr. bin Laden twice before in Afghanistan.