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1/28/03 - POWELL ON IRAQI DANGER - 2003-01-31

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein poses “a grave danger to international peace and security.” That has become increasingly evident as the Baghdad regime continues to violate the trust of the United Nations, the Iraqi people, and Iraq’s neighbors.

The U-N Security Council recognized this situation and unanimously adopted Resolution fourteen-forty-one. It gives Iraq one last chance to disarm peacefully after eleven years of defiance. The resolution places the burden squarely on Iraq to provide accurate, full, and complete information on its programs for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. But Iraq has failed to tell the U-N inspectors where to find its weapons of mass destruction.

Previous inspections showed that Iraq had thousands of liters of anthrax and botulinum. Where is the evidence that these deadly poisons have been destroyed? What happened to nearly thirty-thousand munitions capable of carrying chemical agents? The inspectors can account for only sixteen of them. What happened to the three metric tons of growth material that can be used for producing biological agents? And why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?

“These questions are not academic. . . [or] trivial,” said Secretary of State Powell. “They are questions of life and death, and they must be answered.”

Saddam Hussein “should tell the truth. . .now,” said Mr. Powell. “The more we wait, the more chance there is for this dictator with clear ties to terrorist groups, including al-Qaida. . .to pass a weapon, share a technology, or use these weapons again.” Mr. Powell said the links between tyrants and terror -- and between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction -- are “the greatest danger of our age.”

That is why the United States will not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. hopes that Iraq will disarm peacefully. But as President George W. Bush has said, “We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. History will judge harshly those who saw a coming danger but failed to act.”