Powell: Time Running Out for Iraq to Disarm
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2003 Time is running out for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to disarm, and the United States will not shrink from war if that is what is necessary, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Switzerland Jan. 26.
One day before U.N weapons inspectors give a 60-day progress report of Iraq's cooperation and their findings, Powell told a group of international leaders in Davos that Iraq is still not providing the inspectors the information they need.
"There is no indication whatever that Iraq has made the strategic decision to come clean and to comply with its international obligation to disarm," the secretary said in an address at the World Economic Forum.
He pointed out several questions previous inspectors had posed in the late 1990s that the current inspectors have been unable to resolve. Iraq claims to have destroyed "tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and botulinum" but hasn't produced any evidence to verify the destruction.
"We're not talking about aspirin. We're talking about the most deadly things one can imagine," Powell said. "We cannot simply turn away and say, 'Well, never mind.'"
He also expressed concern that Iraq has not disclosed nearly 30,000 warheads capable of delivering chemical weapons, mobile laboratories capable of producing biological weapons, three metric tons of growth medium for growing biological toxins, and uranium procurement efforts. Previous U.N. inspectors documented procurement of the various materials, but they are not covered in the most recent disclosure from Iraq.
"These questions are not academic; they are not trivial," he said. "They are questions of life and death, and they must be answered."
He expressed doubt that giving Saddam Hussein more time to comply with the inspectors will do any good, and could ultimately lead to a greater threat to peace and stability in the region and around the world.
"Saddam should tell the truth and tell the truth now," Powell said. "The more we wait, the more chance there is for this dictator with clear ties to terrorist groups including al Qaeda to pass a weapon, share a technology, or use these weapons again."