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Powell: No Doubt on What Follows Saddam's Noncompliance to Disarm

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2003 – Time is fast running out for Saddam Hussein to voluntarily jettison his weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems to comply with U.N. Resolution 1441, the top U.S. diplomat said here today.

There is no doubt that the Iraqi dictator is in material breach of 1441, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told members of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan "think tank."

And "there can be no doubt about what would follow in the absence of compliance," Powell said, pointing out there's no evidence that Hussein has decided to disarm since U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Iraq late last fall after a four-year absence.

"Nothing indicates that the Iraqi regime has decided to actively, unconditionally and immediately cooperate with the inspectors," Powell continued.

Iraqi destruction of "a handful of" al Samoud-2 missiles while under duress doesn't constitute compliance, he pointed out. Powell also observed that Hussein continues to hide stocks of anthrax, VX nerve agent, mobile laboratories and the equipment needed to make more rocket engines.

For example, Saddam has told weapons inspectors that he has no VX, "the most deadly chemical weapon imaginable," said Powell. However, when Saddam's son-in-law defected in 1995, he reported that the Iraqi regime indeed had VX stockpiles.

Consequently, the Iraqi regime "was forced to admit that it had produced large amounts of this terrible, terrible poison," Powell noted. However, the Iraqi regime has said it never had weaponized its VX.

Yet, on Jan. 27, he continued, U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reported indications that the Iraqis have made more progress on weaponizing their VX than they have admitted.

Through such "too little, too late gestures" as destroying some missiles, Saddam seeks to deceive and delay action by the international community, and split it into arguing factions, Powell stated.

He said Saddam's response to Resolution 1441 "is consistent with his answers" to the previous 16 U.N. resolutions he has defied since the end of the Gulf War.

"Saddam, as a result, has taken Iraq deeper and deeper into material breach of its international obligations," Powell pointed out.

Further inspections will amount to little unless the Iraqis discontinue their "fog of denial and deception," Powell noted.

The United States and the U.N. Security Council share the common goal of disarming Saddam, Powell said. Yet, he emphasized, "the clock continues to tick" and the consequences of Saddam's refusal to disarm "will be very, very real."

Powell noted that if the United Nations doesn't vote to act as a body to force Hussein to disarm, then the United States has made it clear it reserves the option "to act with the coalition of willing nations" to forcibly disarm the dictator.

"We believe the situation is that clear and the situation is that dangerous," he said.

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