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Powell: Saddam Hussein Has Had Enough Time to Disarm

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2003 – U.S. officials believe Saddam Hussein has had more than enough time to peacefully disarm. Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a message today to those who think the Iraqi dictator deserves more time.

"It's not a matter of time, it is a matter of telling the truth," Powell said to the National Conference of World Affairs Councils of America this afternoon. "And Saddam Hussein still responds with evasions and with lies."

U.N. inspectors have been in Iraq for more than six weeks under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 1441, which authorized serious consequences if Iraq fails to disarm willingly. So far, the inspectors have reported nominal cooperation from Iraq; the Bush administration says that's not good enough and is threatening military action, alone or with allies, if Iraq doesn't comply soon.

A small number of European countries, most notably Germany and France, and several prominent Americans have urged the president to give the inspectors more time. Powell said today that more time wouldn't yield any more progress.

"To those who say why not give the inspectors and the whole inspection process more time, the simple answer is, how much more time does Iraq need? Not the inspectors; how much more time does Iraq need to realize the seriousness of its position, the futility of its position; to understand once and for all that if they don't come clean now, they will be made clean by military force?" Powell said.

Germany and France have also threatened to veto any additional Security Council resolution to expressly authorize force to disarm Iraq. Powell said today that the Security Council has already authorized force, if needed.

"Everybody who voted for (Resolution 1441) that day knew that that meant if Iraq does not disarm peacefully, it must be done through the use of force," he said.

An hour before Powell's remarks, Vice President Dick Cheney stressed America's resolve to disarm Hussein.

"We will not permit a brutal dictator with ties to terror and a record of feckless aggression to dominate the Middle East and to threaten the United States," Cheney said at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee.

He also seemed to veto giving the inspectors more time. Cheney said the inspection process isn't America's goal, disarming Iraq is. "Our purpose is not to simply follow a process," he said. "It is to end the terrible threats to the civilized world."

The vice president also referred to comments the president made in his State of the Union address Jan. 28: "The course of this nation does not depend on the decision of others," Bush had said.

"Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, we will defend the freedom and the security of the American people," Cheney said today.

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