JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- In a rare interview released Tuesday, former South African president Nelson Mandela took the opportunity to criticize the Bush administration and U.S. foreign policy, and he called the United States a "threat to world peace."
Mandela told Newsweek magazine that President George W. Bush's decision to seek regime change in Iraq was motivated by the desire to please the U.S. arms and oil industries.
Mandela said the message the U.S. is sending to the rest of the world is that "if you are afraid of a veto in the (U.N.) Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries."
He called on the United States and Britain to use the United Nations to reach a compromise that would avoid a confrontation.
Mandela, who stepped down in 1999 after a single 5-year term, also criticized Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for not producing evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government has produced weapons of mass destruction.
"Neither Bush nor Tony Blair has provided any evidence that such weapons exist," he told the magazine. "But what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody talks about that."
Mandela added: "Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it's black, and another one for another country, Israel, that is white?"
The 84-year-old statesman also expressed his concern about U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
"He opposed the decision to release me from prison," Mandela said with a laugh. The majority of the U.S. Congress was in favor of my release, and he opposed it. But it's not because of that. Quite clearly, we are dealing with an arch-conservative in Dick Cheney."
Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 for advocating armed resistance to apartheid in South Africa. He was released in 1990.