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Powell Says Iraqi Cooperation Still Inadequate

Powell Says Iraqi Cooperation Still Inadequate

Secretary says talks will continue on a second U.N. resolution. Source: The Washington File, Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State Website.Washington D.C., February 14, 2003.

By Judy Aita, Washington File United Nations Correspondent.

United Nations, New York -- February 14, 2003 -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to reporters February 14 following a new Iraq weapons inspectors report to the U.N. Security Council, said he is "not satisfied" that any real progress has been made on Iraqi disarmament.

"While we noted some progress on process, frankly, I was not satisfied that we have seen anything with respect to real progress on substance," Powell said.

"So it's more of the same game-playing [by Iraq], in my judgment, that's going on," he said.

Powell characterized the Security Council session as a "very good, spirited debate" on Iraqi's disarmament but said the council had come to no conclusion on how to proceed. Consultations will continue in capitals on a second resolution, he said.

Powell and foreign ministers from nine of the 15 council member nations attended the public Security Council meeting to hear an updated report on Iraqi disarmament from the chief U.N. weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei.

Afterward, the council had a private meeting with the inspectors and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Powell said that session came to the conclusion that "robust inspections have to be matched by cooperation and compliance. And no matter how robust you make the inspections, no matter how many inspectors you put in, unless there is compliance and cooperation on the part of the Iraqi regime you really haven't accomplished anything."

"We have to take that all into account as we make a judgment as to whether or not" Iraq is complying, is cooperating, he said. "In my judgment, they still are not complying or cooperating."

The secretary pointed out that both Blix, executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "indicated clearly they have not yet seen the kind of level of cooperation that would bring this matter to conclusion."

"So we will continue to debate this issue within the council, among council members," Powell said. "With respect to action on another resolution, I will go back to Washington, consult with my colleagues, consult with the president and talk to other members of the council and make a judgment in the not-to-distant future."

The secretary also said that council members have decided to wait until after the inspectors' next report on March 1 before deciding whether to accept France's proposal to have another ministerial-level meeting on March 14.

In his presentation to the Security Council, Powell repeatedly emphasized that resolution 1441 passed by the Security Council in November 2002 "is not about inspections. Resolution 1441 was about the disarmament of Iraq."

Powell said that the inspectors' reports of improvements -- such as a decrease in the number of Iraqi "minders" assigned to the inspectors, a limited number of private interviews with Iraqi scientists, a decree banning weapons of mass destruction and good access -- are "all process. It is not substance."

Referring to France's call for increasing the number of inspectors, Powell said "more inspectors -- sorry, it's not the answer."

"More inspectors and a longer inspection period will not move us away from the central issue, the central problem we are facing. That central problem is that Iraq has failed to comply with 1441. The threat of force must remain," Powell said.

While force should always be the last resort, the secretary said, "we cannot allow this process to be endlessly strung out as Iraq is trying to do right now" so the council will tire and move on.

After the inspectors' reports, many foreign ministers joined the council debate.

France, Germany, and China argued for more time for the inspectors to do their work, seeing the reports as indication that the inspections are working.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that "not one of us feels the least indulgence toward Saddam Hussein," but "only in the event that inspections have failed" could a second resolution calling for use of force be justified.

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said "Iraq's material breaches, which we spelled out on the 8th of November, are still there."

Straw said that the issue "could not be graver -- it is about the authority of the United Nations and about the responsibility of the Security Council for international peace and security."

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said that she was still waiting to hear "just one sentence -- one sentence that is the affirmation of active, immediate, complete cooperation by Saddam Hussein's regime."

In Washington, President Bush repeated that Saddam Hussein still has weapons of mass destruction and "will be disarmed one way or the other."

And, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters "nowhere did the world receive any comfort today in New York that Saddam Hussein has shown the inspectors that he has disarmed. Quite the contrary."

Fleischer urged reporters "to be very cautious and judicious" in their predictions on how other nations will vote on what to do about Iraq in the Security Council. He pointed out that President Bush "has been engaged in consultations" with leaders of nations in the Security Council, and will continue these discussions.

"And as you've seen in the past, these typically have led to very fruitful results in terms of the world supporting the United States position or at least not objecting to it," Fleischer said."

Bush "continues to hope that the United Nations will, when it comes down to time to vote, be a relevant organization because the consequences of failure would mean that international organizations are no longer capable of enforcing nonproliferation regimes around the world," Fleischer said.


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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).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).