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Powell 'Not Surprised' Iraqis Failing to Comply With 1441

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2003 – Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.N. inspectors' report to the Security Council that Iraq is not fully cooperating with disarmament "came as no surprise."

"For 11 years before (U.N. Security Council Resolution) 1441, Saddam Hussein's regime refused to make the strategic decision, the political decision to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction and to comply with the world's demands," Powell said at the State Department this afternoon. "To this day, the Iraq regime continues to defy the will of the United Nations."

The two top U.N. weapons inspectors briefed Security Council members today on their progress in verifying Iraq's supposed disarmament. They gave the regime mixed marks, saying it's cooperating in some aspects and impeding progress in others. Chief inspector Hans Blix said the Iraqis have failed to clear up several important questions.

The secretary said the questions posed by inspectors are not trivial and not asked simply out of curiosity. Powell referenced several earlier comments by Blix, who at one point had noted the Iraqis have failed to account for mobile biological weapons labs they're believed to have.

"If the Iraqi regime was truly committed to disarmament, we wouldn't be looking for these mobile labs," Powell said. "They'd drive them up and park them in front of (the inspectors') headquarters for inspection."

He said the list of examples of Iraq's noncompliance "goes on and on" and urged the international community to stand tough in its resolution to disarm Iraq.

"Iraq must not be allowed to keep weapons of mass terror and the capacity to produce more," Powell said. "The world community must send a clear message to Iraq that the will of the international community must be obeyed."

Still, he reminded, President Bush continues to hope for a peaceful outcome. "But a peaceful solution is only possible if Iraq disarms," Powell said.

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