Nelson Mandela, South Africa's former president, strongly condemned U.S. threats to attack Iraq, warning on Monday that the United States was "introducing chaos in international affairs."

"We are really appalled by any country, whether a superpower or a small country, that goes outside the U.N. and attacks independent countries," Mandela said before meeting with French President Jacques Chirac at his Johannesburg home.

"The message they are sending is that if you're afraid of the veto in the Security Council, then you're entitled to ... ignore the Security Council."

Mandela also said no country should take the law into its own hands, particularly the United States because "they are the only superpower in the world today, and they must be exemplary in everything they do."

Mandela has tried unsuccessfully to speak with President Bush by telephone, instead speaking with Secretary of State Colin Powell and former President George H.W. Bush, he said.

Powell is due in South Africa later this week to attend the ongoing World Summit on poverty and the environment.

Mandela also planned to call National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The United States has made toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a priority, accusing him of developing weapons of mass destruction.

According to Mandela, "What they are saying is introducing chaos in international affairs, and we condemn that in the strongest terms."

Chirac, who addressed the summit Monday, said he shared with Mandela "a common position on the assessment and approach of these issues."