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Powell Draws Picture of Iraqi Deception, Links to al-Qaida

Powell Draws Picture of Iraqi Deception, Links to al-Qaida

U.S. Secretary Colin Powell's address to Security Council on Iraqi violations of Resolution 1441. Source: Washington File -- Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site.

United Nations -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell February 5 detailed for the Security Council accumulated evidence of Iraq's unwillingness to cooperate with the U.N. disarmament process, using U.S. intelligence on Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction programs and its links to terrorism.

"Today, Iraq still poses a threat, and Iraq still remains in material breach" of its disarmament obligations, Powell told the council. "Indeed, by its failure to seize on its one last opportunity to come clean and disarm, Iraq has put itself in deeper material breach and closer to the day when it will face serious consequences for its continued defiance of this council."

"Should we take the risk that (Saddam Hussein) will not someday use these weapons at a time and place and in a manner of his choosing, at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond," the secretary said. "The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world."

In a speech that lasted almost one hour and a half, Powell played tapes of intercepted Iraqi military communications, showed surveillance photographs of military sites, and recounted information received from sources "who risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to." The secretary gave background on each piece of intelligence he was revealing, wove together sequences of events , and provided analysis on all the weapons programs -- chemical and biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles, and nuclear weapons.

"I cannot tell you everything that we know," he said. "But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling."

"Iraq's behavior demonstrates that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort -- no effort -- to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction," he said.

One example Powell presented was photographs of the Taji weapons facility housing chemical munitions -- the first photograph indicating four of the facility's 15 bunkers active, with special guards, a decontamination vehicle and special equipment present to monitor any leakage. A second photograph taken in December 2002 as U.N. inspectors were arriving, showed two of the bunkers changed dramatically, sanitized.

He described the inside of mobile biological weapons factories from eyewitness accounts and said that Iraq may have 18 such trucks from which it can produce enough biological agent, such as anthrax or botulinum toxin, in a single month to kill "thousands upon thousands of people."

"Just imagine trying to find 18 trucks among the thousands and thousands of trucks that travel the roads of Iraq every single day," he said. "It took the inspectors four years to find out that Iraq was making biological agents. How long do you think it will take the inspectors to find even one of these 18 trucks without Iraq coming forward."

The secretary detailed the "potentially much more sinister" connection between Iraq and terrorists, especially leaders of the al-Qaida terrorist network, "a nexus," he said, "that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder."

Iraq is harboring the network of Abu Mussab al-Zakawi, an associate and collaborator of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants, he said. Powell showed a photograph of what he said was a poison and explosive training center in northeastern Iraq that the al-Zakawi network is running.

In addition, al-Zakawi was given safe haven in Baghdad in May 2002 where he went for medical treatment and during his stay established a base of operations with nearly two dozen other extremists, Powell said.

"These al-Qaida affiliates, based in Baghdad, now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network and they've now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months," Powell said. "From his terrorist network in Iraq, Zakawi can direct his network in the Middle East and beyond."

Following is a transcript of the secretary's remarks to the Security Council:

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
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