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Powell: We Must Stop Saddam Before He Arms Terrorists

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2003 – Saddam Hussein is testing the United States, the U.N. Security Council and the international community, America's top diplomat said today.

"Are we going to allow an individual such as Saddam Hussein to continue to develop these weapons of mass destruction or deceive us into believing that he isn't when we know he is?" Secretary of State Colin Powell asked members of Congress.

He said he'd carry the same message to the United Nations, where he meets with representatives of other countries this afternoon.

If Hussein chose today to give weapons of mass destruction to Osama bin Laden, no one could stop him, Powell said.

"We want to take away his option of doing so by disarming the Iraqi regime and Saddam Hussein," he said during a hearing of the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. His comments came after a senator quoted bin Laden calling on all Muslims to obtain weapons of mass destruction, if possible, to kill Americans.

"Should there be any doubt in anyone's mind that if Osama bin Laden or other terrorists had access to chemical or biological or nuclear weapons they would use them -- if there was any doubt in anyone's mind, that should have been erased on 9-11," Powell said.

This is why, he said, the United States made it clear to the U.N. Security Council "that we could no longer allow its resolutions to be ignored with respect to Iraq, a known developer of weapons of mass destruction."

The secretary warned that now is the time to go after "these rogue nations that proliferate, led by leaders who would strike us and who have shown in the past they will strike their own neighbors, strike their own people, do anything to stay in power to pursue their own agenda."

Still, Powell said, "even at this late date," Hussein could choose to disarm or leave Iraq and avoid a war.

Whatever happens to Hussein -- "he can go into exile (or) he can go into irrelevance," -- the Iraqi people will be better off, Powell said.

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