Britain said Saturday it was drawing up contingency plans to deal with Iraqis living in Britain who were considered a risk to national security should war break out in the Persian Gulf.

"We obviously have to consider a number of possible difficulty that might arise if war were to be declared," said a spokesman for the Home Office, Britain's interior ministry.But the spokesman could not confirm a report in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that the government would introduce mass internment of Iraqis in former army camps within hours of the start of hostilities.

The article said lists of the 5,000 Iraqis resident in Britain had been drawn up and security officers had identified a number of Iraqi students and others thought to be potential security risks.

"At the outbreak of war Home Secretary Kenneth Baker is expected immediately to use his powers under the Aliens Restrictions Act to authorize internment," the Mail on Sunday article said.

"Police would round up Iraqis and take them to camps where they would be supervised by military personnel."

The British government, citing security threats, expelled eight Iraqi embassy staff Thursday and ordered the expulsion of 67 Iraqi civilians.

Expelled press counselor Naiel Hassan told reporters before leaving Britain that all Western countries would become targets if war broke out in the gulf.

A Home Office source said if a gulf war did erupt, one problem would be the destination to which "undesirable" Iraqis could be deported.