Iraq Not Complying With U.N. Resolution, Powell Says

By Jim Garamone, AFPS

WASHINGTON–Iraq has not made the strategic decision to disarm and cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council last week.

Powell spoke following reports from Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector, and Mohammad ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The secretary said all the U.N. discussions on Iraq come down to one question: Has the Iraqi regime made the fundamental strategic and political decision to comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions and to rid itself of all its weapons of mass destruction? Powell thinks not.

"The answer to that question does not come from how many inspectors are present, or how much more time should be given, or how much more effort should be put into the inspection process," he said. "The answer depends entirely on whether Iraq has made the choice to actively cooperate in every possible way, in every possible manner in the immediate and complete disarmament of itself of its prohibited weapons. That’s what (U.N. Security Council Resolution) 1441 calls for."

Powell said he was pleased to hear of some progress on disarmament, but he was sorry to learn that it still is coming in a grudging manner, that Iraq is still refusing to offer what was called for by 1441 — "immediate, active and unconditional cooperation."

"Not later, immediate. Not passive, active. Not conditional, unconditional in every respect. Unfortunately, in my judgment," Powell said, "despite some of the progress that has been mentioned, I still find what I have heard this morning a catalog … of noncooperation."

Grudging cooperation from Iraq is not the result of some change of heart, he pointed out, but because of the threat of military force and by the political will of the Security Council. Blix had hinted at that as well.

The written report on outstanding disarmament issues that Blix submitted to the United Nations is 167 pages of solid research that adds up to "a damning record of 12 years of lies, deception and failure to come clean on the part of Iraq," Powell said.

He said U.S. officials found nearly 30 instances in the report where Iraq refused to provide credible evidence substantiating its claims, and 17 examples when the previous inspectors actually uncovered evidence contradicting Iraqi claims.

"We see instance after instance of Iraq lying to the previous inspectors and planting false evidence — activities which we believe are still ongoing," Powell said. "As you read this document, you can see page after page of how Iraq has obstructed the inspectors at nearly every turn over the years."

The secretary said the world organization has been led down this road by Iraq before.

"In March 1998, Saddam Hussein was also faced with the threat of military action," he said. "He responded with promises to provide inspectors at that time with immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access. The then-chief inspector reported to this council a new spirit of cooperation, along with his hope that the inspectors could move very quickly to verify Iraq’s disarmament. We know what happened to that hope."

The secretary told the Security Council that no one wants war. But the only reason there has been any progress at all, he continued, is the presence of a large military force from nations "willing to put their young men and women in harm’s way in order to rid the world of these dangerous weapons."

Progress against Iraq doesn’t come from simply passing resolutions, he said. "It comes from the will of this council, the unified political will of this council and the willingness to use force, if it comes to that, to make sure that we achieve the disarmament of Iraq.

"Now is the time for the council to tell Saddam that the clock has not been stopped by his stratagems and his machinations," he said. "The clock continues to tick, and the consequences of Saddam Hussein’s continued refusal to disarm will be very, very real."