Iraqi Cooperation a Feint, Powell Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2003 Both Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei cited increased cooperation from Iraq as inspections proceed, but U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraq is playing its same old game of dragging its feet.
The three men spoke at the U.N. Security Council meeting today. Blix, the executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported on meetings with Iraqi leaders and the progress of inspections concerning Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs.
Blix and ElBaradei said Iraq appears to be cooperating more than in the past. Blix said that instead of five Iraqi "minders" for each inspector, there is only one. He also noted cooperation in allowing inspectors to speak to Iraqi experts and scientists alone.
Iraq has also agreed to allow U-2 spy planes to aid the inspectors.
Finally, both men noted that Saddam Hussein has put out a presidential decree asking for all information about suspect weapons programs to be turned over to the U.N. organizations.
Powell was not impressed. "We have not seen the kind of cooperation that was anticipated, expected and demanded by this body, and we must continue to demand it," he said following the presentation by the two chiefs. "We must continue to put pressure on Iraq, put force upon Iraq to make sure that the threat of force is not removed."
The secretary stressed that U.N. Security Council resolution 1441 is about disarmament, not inspections. "The inspections were put in as a way, of course, to assist Iraq in coming forward and complying, in order to verify, in order to monitor, as the chief inspector noted," Powell said. "But we still have got an incomplete answer from Iraq."
Other countries on the Security Council led by France propose adding more inspectors and giving the process more time to work. "We are facing a difficult situation," Powell told the Security Council. "More inspectors? Sorry, it's not the answer. What we need is immediate cooperation. Time? How much time does it take to say, 'I understand the will of the international community and I and my regime are laying it all out for you,' and not playing 'guess.' Not forming commissions, not issuing decrees, not getting laws that should have been passed years ago be suddenly passed on the day when we are meeting."
Powell called the sudden decrees and Iraqi concessions the same gambit they've tried in the past. It is a play for time. He said that following President Bush's speech in September, the Iraqi government suddenly agreed to allow inspectors back into the country. "Why?" Powell asked. "Because when the president spoke and when Iraq saw that the international community was now coming together with seriousness and with determination, it knew it better do something.
"It didn't do it out of the goodness of its heart or it suddenly discovered that it's been in violation all those years," he continued. "They did it because of pressure. They did it because this council stood firm. They did it because the international community said 'enough.'
"We will not tolerate Iraq continuing to have weapons of mass destruction to be used against its own people, to be used against its neighbors, or worse, if we find a post-9- 11 nexus between Iraq and terrorist organizations that are looking for just such weapons," Powell emphasized.
He said connections between Iraq and terror organizations exist and said he will provide evidence of the connections. "We cannot wait for one of these terrible weapons to show up in one of our cities and wonder where it came from, after it's been detonated by al Qaeda or somebody else," he said. "This is the time to go after this source of this kind of weaponry."
Blix said that Iraq has proscribed rockets. Experts have agreed that two declared variants of the Al-Samoud 2 missile were capable of exceeding 150 kilometers in range. These weapons are proscribed under U.N. resolutions. Another rocket the Al-Fatah is still being studied.
Even with the increased cooperation from Baghdad, Iraq must do more, Blix said. "Such cooperation, as I have noted, requires more than the opening of doors," he said. "In the words of Resolution 1441, it requires immediate, unconditional and active efforts by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament, either by presenting remaining proscribed items and programs for elimination or by presenting convincing evidence that they have been eliminated."
Blix and ElBaradei asked for more cooperation from member governments' intelligence systems as the inspections teams continue. ElBaradei asked for more "actionable intelligence" from member states.
ElBaradei said the nuclear inspections group has expanded its activities and has spoken with four Iraqi scientists alone, "although they insisted on tape recording the conversations."
He said that Iraq continues to state that it has made no attempt to import uranium since the 1980s. "The IAEA recently received some additional information relevant to this issue, which will be further pursued -- hopefully, with the assistance of the African country reported to have been involved," he said.
Powell said that even with the improvements the inspectors noted, that the threat of force must be maintained. "Force should always be a last resort. I have preached this for most of my professional life as a soldier and as a diplomat. But it must be a resort," Powell said. "We cannot allow this process to be endlessly strung out, as Iraq is trying to do right now (by saying), 'String it out long enough and the world will start looking in other directions; the Security Council will move on; we'll get away with it again.'
"My friends, they cannot be allowed to get away with it again," Powell said.