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Powell: We Must Not Be Afraid of Necessary Conflict

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2003 – It would be a "bad day" for the United Nations if it refuses to deal with Iraqi noncompliance with U.N. resolutions, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Beijing today.

Powell warned that President Bush reserves the right to act without a further Security Council resolution if he believes Iraq poses a threat. The United States and United Kingdom, and perhaps other countries, are expected to propose an additional resolution regarding disarmament of Iraq as early as today. France, in particular, has threatened to veto such a proposal.

"The United States believes strongly that it is time for Saddam (Hussein) to disarm or depart, and for the Security Council to live up to its responsibilities if Saddam does not meet his responsibilities," Powell said.

Shortly after Powell's remarks in Beijing, President Bush told a group of state governors visiting the White House that Hussein's refusal to submit to "the demands of the civilized world" is a "threat to the security of peace- loving people everywhere."

He wondered aloud whether the Security Council will be a body that means what it says. "We certainly hope it does," the president said. "But one way or the other, Saddam Hussein, for the sake of peace and for the security of the American people, will be disarmed."

Powell noted the United States and the Security Council are working hard to pressure Hussein to disarm, but force may be necessary. He said the world "must not be afraid of conflict if a conflict is what it takes to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq."

For his own part, the secretary said he has "always advocated peaceful solutions" to international problems. As a soldier and general, he has fought in wars, lost friends in wars and sent men and women into battle.

"So, I hate war," he said. "And anything that can be done to avoid a war should be done. But when a war cannot be avoided, fight it and fight it well."

Powell is in Asia to attend the inauguration of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and to visit American friends and allies in the region. In China he met with Vice President Hu Jintau and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, and was scheduled to meet with President Jiang Zemin today.

North Korea's nuclear aspirations were another prominent topic of discussion in Powell's meetings with Chinese leaders. He noted the United States and China share a goal of maintaining a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula.

"The United States feels strongly that North Korea's actions pose a threat to regional stability and to the global nonproliferation regime," Powell said.

He added that the United States is willing to discuss issues in a multilateral setting with North Korea, China and other countries with a stake in the region, including South Korea, Japan and Russia. North Korea has said it will deal only with the United States.

"I believe that North Korea must come to understand that if it wants to benefit from the opportunities of the modern world, the opportunities that exist to help the North Korean leadership feed its people and improve its economy, it needs to step forward and abandon these programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and to proliferate other dangerous technologies throughout the world," Powell said.

The secretary also thanked China for donating $150 million toward Afghan reconstruction projects. "The fight against terrorism also requires us to ensure that Afghanistan can never again be a source of instability, a source where terrorists can go and find haven," he said.

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