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Powell Accuses Iraq of Playing Games with U.N. and U.S.

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2003 – Iraq is playing the United Nations and some of America's friends on the Security Council like a fiddle, Secretary of State Colin Powell said during a March 16 appearance on ABC News' This Week show.

Powell accused Saddam Hussein of slowly dribbling out a little of this and that. Then, he said, last weekend, the Iraqis allowed some more people to come forward to be interviewed and to present more documents the United Nations and United States have been requesting for years.

"These are documents that were supposed to have been brought forward in 1991," Powell emphasized. "These are documents Iraq says they don't have any longer, but suddenly they discover them.

"It's a game," he told program host George Stephanopoulos. "It's a game, and the problem is strictly on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein, who is not complying with the simple instructions of (U.N. Security Council Resolution) 1441 and all the previous resolutions. We cannot get ourselves confused about what the problem is: The problem is Iraqi noncompliance and noncooperation with the inspectors and with the will of the United Nations."

Time is running out for Saddam Hussein, Powell said, adding, "I think a moment of truth is arriving."

The weekend summit in Terceira, the Azores, with President Bush, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair was "not a war council," he emphasized. The leaders, he said, met to examine the diplomatic situation to see if there is any hope for a peaceful solution.

"It's time to bring the curtain down," Powell said. But, he said, Saddam Hussein has done nothing to assist in finding a peaceful solution. Not only that, he said, "Some members of the council have not been that helpful in applying maximum pressure to Saddam Hussein for him to do so."

What cooperation Hussein is showing is not because of resolutions or diplomacy, but "the presence of a strong U.S., United Kingdom and other nations participating in military force in the region," he said. "If Saddam Hussein ultimately decides not to comply -- and it doesn't look like he will -- then he will face the serious consequences 1441 calls for."

Instead of going to the Azores with Bush, Powell said he stayed in Washington to keep in touch with his colleagues in London and in Madrid, Spain. "There's a lot going on in the U.N. -- there are proposals and statements being made," he noted. "We worked all day yesterday on the statements that will be examined at the summit in the Azores. So it's a distribution of labor."

While national leaders met in the Azores, Powell said he was staying in contact with United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, who appeared on "This Week" from Madrid before Powell's appearance.

The French, Germans and Russians put forward a paper on March 15, Powell noted. Predicting that things will be happening in the United Nations this week, the secretary said he's not expecting a new proposal because a good, solid one is already on the table.

"There's a resolution that these three nations -- the United States, United Kingdom and Spain -- tabled the Friday before last, but France has said it will veto it," Powell pointed out. "Every adjustment we have tried to make to that resolution during the course of last week, France said it would veto."

But he said there might be a change in the French position. That's because French President Jacques Chirac said Sunday that he would be willing to consider a 30-day timeline for inspections.

"That's a big concession coming back off of 120 days," Powell noted. But he added that the United Nations and United States have had timelines, deadlines and benchmarks -- "the problem is Iraq is not complying."

Stephanopoulos asked Powell what's wrong with giving Iraq a little more time, and the secretary pointed out, "We've been waiting for 12 years. We gave a little more time when the president gave his speech and when 1441 was passed. It's now four months since 1441, and we've seen nothing with respect to Iraqi performance and behavior that suggests that Saddam Hussein has made a decision to comply with the resolution and to cooperate."

How much more time is necessary to decide that Iraq is not compliant and does not intend to cooperate? Powell asked.

He expressed confidence in finding evidence of the presence of chemical and biological weapons and some elements of a nuclear infrastructure if the United States and its coalition go into Iraq. But, he said, if it comes to a military action, success would mean a better Iraq, a better life for the Iraqi people -- the use of the treasure of Iraq -- its oil -- for the benefit of its people and not to threaten its neighbors and develop weapons of mass destruction.

"There's a strong possibility, which we will go after and hopefully seize, to put in place a country that is stable, living in peace with its neighbors, and no longer a threat to the region and to the world and the United States," Powell said.

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Secretary Powell Interview on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos

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