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2/6/03 - POWELL ON IRAQ’S EMPTY CLAIMS - 2003-02-07

As President George W. Bush warned in his State of the Union address, “the gravest danger facing America and the world is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.” This threat is especially severe in regard to Iraq.

In November, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution fourteen-forty-one. It gave Iraq one last chance to disarm peacefully or “face serious consequences.” But instead of disarming, Iraq has responded with empty claims and gestures. As U-N chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reported, “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.”

Resolution fourteen-forty-one requires Iraq to make a full disclosure of its weaponry and cooperate unconditionally with the inspectors. But, said Secretary of State Colin Powell, “Iraq’s declaration of its weapons holdings is incomplete and inaccurate and provides no substantive information on the disposition of its weapons of mass destruction.”

Among other things, Iraq has failed to account for its production of the deadly nerve agent V-X, some six-thousand five-hundred chemical bombs, and thousands of metric tons of chemical precursors and agents. Iraq also acquired materials to make much more anthrax than it declared. Indeed, Iraq continues to acquire banned equipment; proscribed imports arrived as recently as last month.

“Together,” said Mr. Powell, “we must face the facts brought to us by the U-N inspectors and reputable intelligence sources. Iraq continues to conceal deadly weapons and their components, and to use denial, deception, and subterfuge in order to retain them. Iraq has ties to and has supported terrorist groups. Iraq has had no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction against its own people and against its neighbors.”

“The U.S. seeks Iraq’s peaceful disarmament,” said Secretary of State Powell. “But we will not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.”