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1/14/03 - POWELL ON IRAQ INSPECTIONS - 2003-01-15

The United States is anxious to find a peaceful solution in Iraq. That is why last September the U.S. introduced a resolution at the United Nations calling for weapons inspectors to return to Iraq. The inspectors went to Iraq as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War in 1991. But after years of deception and obstruction, Iraq ceased all cooperation with the inspectors in 1998, effectively making their mandate to verify Iraqi disarmament unachievable. After an almost four year absence of weapons inspectors, the U-N unanimously passed Resolution fourteen-forty-one, which re-introduced inspectors with expanded authority.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “If we were looking for a war and we didn’t care what anyone else thought or what the inspectors might find, we wouldn’t have gone to that trouble. But we were trying to avoid war [and] find a peaceful solution.”

But for that to happen, the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein must cooperate fully and actively with weapons inspectors from the U-N Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission and from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iraq must provide them full and complete information on all the nuclear, biological, chemical, and delivery systems programs that Iraq has had over the years. There must be no deception. The U-N has made it clear: Iraq must comply, or face the consequences.

The U.S. is working closely with weapons inspectors and has provided them with information and logistical and technical support. Secretary of State Powell said, “We want [the inspectors] to be able to do their work and we’re trying to help them every way we can.”

The declaration that Iraq issued last month was flawed. The information was incomplete and inaccurate. The Iraqi declaration, said Mr. Powell “was certainly not an indication that [Saddam Hussein] is cooperating fully.”

As President George W. Bush said, “The Iraqi dictator did not even attempt a credible declaration. . . . He really doesn’t care about the opinion of mankind. Saddam Hussein,” said President Bush, “was given a path to peace. Thus far, he has chosen the path of defiance.”