BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, US SECRETARY OF STATE POWELL PRESENTS EVIDENCE OF IRAQ’S FAILURE TO DISARM

5 February 2003
SC/7658

BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, US SECRETARY OF STATE POWELL PRESENTS EVIDENCE OF IRAQ’S FAILURE TO DISARM

05/02/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7658

Security Council

4701st Meeting (AM)

BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, US SECRETARY OF STATE POWELL

PRESENTS EVIDENCE OF IRAQ’S FAILURE TO DISARM

Several Council Members Call for More Time

For Inspections; France Proposes Strengthening of Inspection Regime

“Clearly, Saddam Hussein and his regime will stop at nothing until something stops him”, Secretary of State of the United States Colin Powell warned the Security Council today in his briefing intended to convince members that Iraq had failed to disarm. 

Through the use of satellite photographs and intercepted telephone conversations in a presentation entitled “Iraq:  Failing to Disarm”, Mr. Powell promised that that evidence plus that which had been gathered by people who had risked their lives would let the world know “what Saddam Hussein was really up to”.  Saddam Hussein was determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction and to make more, he said.  For him, possession of the world’s most deadly weapons was the ultimate trump card, the one he must hold to fulfill his ambition.

Underlying all the facts and patterns of behaviour was Saddam Hussein’s contempt for the will of the Council, his contempt for the truth, and most damning of all, his utter contempt for human life, Mr. Powell said.  His use of mustard and nerve gas against the Kurds in 1988 was one of the twentieth century’s most horrible atrocities.  He had also conducted ethnic cleansing against the Shia Iraqis and the Marsh Arabs.  His police State ruthlessly eliminated anyone who dared to dissent.  Nothing pointed more clearly to Saddam Hussein’s dangerous intentions than his calculated cruelty to his own citizens and neighbours.       

Mr. Powell then declared that the United States would not -– could not -– run the risk to the American people that Saddam Hussein would one day use his weapons of mass destruction.  Council members must not shrink from whatever lay ahead or fail in their responsibility to their citizens.  Iraq still posed a threat and it still remained in material breach.  By failing to seize its one last opportunity to “come clean” and disarm, it had put itself in deeper material breach and closer to the day when it would face serious consequences for its continued defiance.

Security Council resolution 1441 (2002) was written, not in order to go to war, but to try and preserve the peace and give Iraq one last chance, he said.  Iraq so far is not taking that one last chance.  It was “irrefutable and undeniable” that, by the standard set out in operative paragraph 4 of resolution 1441 (2002), which defines a further material breach as false statements or

omissions in declarations and failure to cooperate fully in the implementation of the resolution, Iraq was now in further material breach.  

Mr. Powell cited several examples of obstruction of the inspections, including the falsification of a death certificate for one scientist forced into hiding, and disclosed evidence of biological and chemical weapons, and longer-range missiles.  The United States had also learned that Saddam Hussein’s son Qusay had ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam’s palace complexes.  While the Council was debating resolution 1441 (2002) last fall, a missile brigade outside Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent to various locations in western Iraq.

Concerning the missiles capable of delivering prohibited weapons, he said that while inspectors had destroyed most of the prohibited ballistic missiles, numerous intelligence reports over the past decade from sources inside Iraq indicated Saddam Hussein retained a covert force of up to a few dozen SCUD-Variant ballistic missiles with a range of 650 to 900 kilometers.  Iraq had programmes intended to produce ballistic missiles that flew over a thousand kilometers, for which it had built an engine test stand larger than any it had ever had.

One of the most worrisome things that had emerged from the thick intelligence file of the United States on Iraq’s biological weapons programme was mobile production facilities for biological agents, he said.  The United States had first-hand descriptions of at least seven sophisticated mobile biological weapons factories on wheels and rails, which were designed to evade detection by inspectors.  In a matter of months, those could produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.  Iraq had also developed ways to disperse lethal biological agents, widely and indiscriminately, into the water and air.  

Mr. Powell said that Iraq’s record on chemical weapons was “replete with lies”.  It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent VX.  A single drop of VX on the skin would kill in minutes.  The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had also gained forensic evidence that Iraq had produced VX and had put it into weapons for delivery.  Yet, to this day, Iraq denied it had ever weaponized VX, and on 27 January, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) told the Council that it had information that conflicted with the Iraqi account of its VX programme.

Terrorism and Iraq went back decades, but today there was a potentially more sinister nexus between Iraq and Al Qaeda, he said.  Iraq harboured a deadly terrorist network headed by an associate and collaborator of Usama Bin Laden.  After the Taliban had been ousted from Afghanistan, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training centre in northeastern Iraq.  A detained senior Al Qaeda terrorist had described Iraq as offering chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates, beginning in December 2000.  The nexus of Iraq and terror was old, but the nexus of poisons and terror was new.  The combination was lethal, Mr. Powell said. 

Speaking after the presentation, Council members agreed that Iraq must comply with all relevant Council resolutions in their entirety and completely

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eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.  Several States suspected that Saddam Hussein’s regime was withholding relevant information and concealing military capabilities, but urged more time to allow the inspectors to do their work before resorting to war.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, Dominique de Villepin, said that, for now, the inspections regime should be strengthened.  Given the choice between military intervention and an inspections regime that was inadequate for lack of cooperation on Iraq’s part, the international community should choose to strengthen decisively the means of inspection.  For example, the number of inspectors could be doubled or triped and their monitoring capabilities increased.  An information processing centre could be established, and a United Nations coordinator for disarmament could be assigned to the country.

The Russian Federation was convinced that maintaining unity in the international community, the context of the Council, and concerted actions in compliance with the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions were the most reliable ways of solving the problem in Iraq through political means, its Foreign Affairs Minister Igor Ivanov said.  Resolution 1441 (2002) was geared towards speedy and practical results, but time frames were absent.  Only the inspectors could determine how much time was needed for their task.

Following the statements by Council members, the representative of Iraq said the clear goal of the meeting today and of Mr. Powell’s presentation had been to sell the idea of war against Iraq, without any legal, moral or political justification.  He reiterated Iraq’s commitment to continue proactive cooperation with the inspection teams, so they could verify, as soon as possible, that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction.  Then, sanctions could be lifted and regional security ensured.  His country would provide a detailed and technical explanation to the allegations made by Mr. Powell.

Also speaking at today’s meeting were:  Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Joschka Fischer; Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, Tang Jiaxuan; Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, Jack Straw; Minister of State in charge of External Relations of Cameroon, Francois-Xavier Ngoubeyou; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Luis Ernesto Derbez; Bulgaria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Solomon Passy; Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khurshid M. Kasuri; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, Ana Palacio; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Soledad Alvear Valenzuela; Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, Georges Rebelo Chikoti; as well as the permanent representatives of Syria and Guinea to the United Nations. 

Also attending today’s meeting were Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.

Statement by United States

COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State of the United States, said that, by the time the Council had adopted resolution 1441 (2002) on 8 November 2002, Iraq had already been found guilty of material breach of its obligations stretching back over 16 previous resolutions and 12 years.  Resolution 1441 was not dealing with an innocent party, but a regime that the Council had repeatedly convicted over the years.  The resolution gave Iraq one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences.  No Council member present and voting on that day had any illusions about the nature and intent of the resolution of what serious consequences meant if Iraq did not comply.

To assist in Iraq’s disarmament, he said, the Council called on Iraq to cooperate with returning inspectors.  The Council laid down tough standards for Iraq to meet to allow the inspectors to do their job.  It placed the burden on Iraq to comply and disarm, and not on the inspectors to find that which Iraq had gone out of its way to conceal for so long.  “Inspectors are inspectors.  They are not detectives”, he said.  He asked for today’s session for two purposes:  to support the core assessments made by Drs. Blix and Elbaradei.  As Dr. Blix reported to the Council on 27 January, “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance –- not even today -– of the disarmament, which was demanded of it ...”

He said his second purpose today was to provide additional information, to share what the United States knew about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, as well as its involvement in terrorism, which was also the subject of resolution 1441 (2002).  The material to be presented today came from a variety of sources, including from other countries.  Some were technical, such as intercepted telephone conversations and photos taken by satellites.  Other sources were people who had risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein was really up to.  He could not tell the world everything he knew, but what he could share, when combined with what had been learned over the years, was “deeply troubling”.  What the Council would see was an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behaviour.

The facts and Iraq’s behaviour demonstrated that Saddam Hussein and his regime had made no effort to disarm, as required by the international community, he continued.  Indeed, the facts and Iraq’s behaviour showed that Saddam Hussein and his regime were concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.  He began by playing a tape-recorded conversation, monitored by his Government.  It took place on 26 November 2002, on the day before United Nations teams resumed inspections in Iraq.  The conversation involved two senior officers:  a colonel and a brigadier general from Iraq’s elite military unit, the Republican Guard.

(That tape was played, over which a transcript of the remarks was projected on a screen.)

Focusing on a few key elements of that conversation, Mr. Powell said that, clearly, the two officers had not gotten rid of everything they were so anxious to

hide.  On the day before Dr. ElBaradei arrived, they were anxious to hide something.  What was it?  Under resolution 1441 (2002), they were supposed to tell us.  The conversation referred to items received from Al-Kindi, a company known to have been involved in prohibited weapons systems activity.

(A second tape was played of a voice of an officer of the Republican Guard Headquarters issuing an instruction to an officer in the field.)

Mr. Powell explained that the conversation took place just last week, on

30 January.  He recalled that the inspectors had found 12 empty chemical warheads on 16 January.  On 20 January, four days later, Iraq promised the inspectors it would search for more.  After the tape, he said he did not know what the Iraqi regime intended to do with any “forbidden ammunition”.  But, he could be sure they had not intended to present it to the inspectors.  And, why destroy the evidence that would prove that Iraq was fulfilling its promise to inspectors to find more munitions?  It made no sense unless Iraq’s intention was to keep concealing the munitions, yet claim to the inspectors that they had looked for them and found nothing.

The effort to hide things from the inspectors was not an isolated event, he went on.  That was part and parcel of a policy of evasion and deception that dated back 12 years -– a policy set at the highest levels of the Iraqi regime.  Think about the fact that Iraq had a high-level committee to monitor the inspectors who were sent in to monitor the country’s disarmament.  Not to cooperate with them, not to assist them, but to spy on them and keep them from doing their job was the reason why.  General Amir Al-Sa’di was the Iraqi regime’s primary point of contact for Drs. Blix and ElBaradei.  It was the General who publicly pledged last fall that Iraq was prepared to cooperate unconditionally with inspectors.  Quite the contrary -– Sa’di’s job was to deceive, not to disarm; to undermine the inspectors, not to support them.

Turning to the declaration that Iraq had submitted to the Council on

7 December 2002, he said that Iraq had never intended to comply with the Council’s mandate.  Instead, it had planned to use the declaration to overwhelm the international community and the inspectors with useless information about Iraq’s permitted weapons, so that there would be no time to pursue Iraq’s prohibited weapons.  Iraq’s goal was to give everyone in this room the false impression that the inspection process was working.  The result was a 12,200-page declaration “rich in volume” but “poor in information and practically devoid of new evidence”.  “Could any member of the Council honestly rise in defence of that false declaration?” he asked.

Everything he had seen and heard indicated that Saddam Hussein and his regime were busy doing all they possibly could to ensure that inspectors succeeded in finding absolutely nothing, he said.  His statements today were not assertions, but backed up by solid sources.  Citing some examples from human sources, he said: orders were issued to Iraq’s security organizations, as well as to Saddam Hussein’s own office staff, to hide all correspondence with the Organization of Military Industrialization.  That organization oversaw Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction activities.

Also, he said he knew that Saddam’s son Qusay had ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam’s numerous palace complexes.  He knew that Iraqi government officials, members of the ruling Ba’ath Party, and scientists had hidden prohibited items in their homes.  Other key files from military and scientific establishments had been placed in cars that were being driven around the countryside by Iraqi intelligence agents to devoid detection.  Thanks to the intelligence that had been provided, the inspectors recently found dramatic confirmation of those reports when they searched the home of an Iraqi nuclear scientist, uncovering roughly 2,000 pages of documents.  Some of that material was classified and related to Iraq’s nuclear programme.

Other sources had told him that, in some cases, the hard drives of computers at Iraqi weapons facilities had been replaced, he added.  Who took the hard drives?  Where did they go?  What’s being hidden? he asked.  While the Council was debating resolution 1441 (2002) last fall, a missile brigade outside Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent to various locations in western Iraq.  Most of the launchers and warheads had been hidden in large groves of palm trees, and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection.  The United States also had satellite photos that indicated that banned materials had recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities.

(He proceeded to show various photographs.)

He said that the first was a close-up image of Taji Bunker, on the left of which was a close-up of one of the four chemical munitions bunkers.  The arrows indicated the presence of sure signs that those bunkers were storing chemical munitions –- enhanced security and a chemical decontamination vehicle.  The photo on the right, taken on 22 December 2002 when the inspectors were arriving, showed two of the chemical munitions bunkers above the convoy of United Nations vehicles -- no security, no decontamination vehicle.  The weapons were gone.  The bunkers were clean.  The inspectors found nothing, he said.  That sequence of events raised the worrisome suspicion that Iraq had been tipped off to the forthcoming inspections at Taji. 

As it did throughout the 1990s, he said he knew that Iraq today was actively using its considerable intelligence capabilities to help hide its illicit activities.  From other sources, he knew that the inspectors were under constant surveillance by an army of Iraqi intelligence operatives.  Iraq was relentlessly attempting to tap all their communications, both voice and electronic.  He then turned to an example of what he called the type of concealment activity Iraq had undertaken in response to the resumption of inspections.  Just when the inspections were about to resume, that type of activity spiked.

As examples, and with accompanying images, he said that, at a ballistic missile site on 10 November 2002, he saw a cargo truck preparing to move ballistic missile components.  At a biological weapons-related facility on 25 November 2002, just two days before inspections resumed, a truck caravan appeared -– something almost never seen at that facility.  At a ballistic missile facility, again two days before inspections began, five large cargo trucks appeared, along with the truck-mounted crane to move missiles.  The United States had seen that kind of “housecleaning” at close to 30 sites.

He said that Iraq had also refused to permit any U-2 reconnaissance flights that would give the inspectors a better sense of what was being moved before, during and after inspections.  That refusal was in specific violation of operative paragraph 7 of resolution 1441 (2002).  Saddam Hussein and his regime were not just trying to conceal weapons; they were also trying to hide people.  The basic facts were known.  Iraq had not complied with its obligation to allow immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted and private access to all officials and other persons as required by resolution 1441 (2002).

Also, Saddam Hussein had directly participated in the effort to prevent interviews with scientists, he went on.  In early December, Saddam Hussein had all Iraqi scientists warned of the serious consequences that they and their families would face if they revealed any sensitive information to the inspectors.  They were forced to sign documents acknowledging that divulging information was punishable by death.  He also said that scientists should be told not to agree to leave Iraq; doing so meant they would be treated as spies. 

He noted that, in mid-November, just before the inspectors returned, Iraqi experts were ordered to report to the headquarters of the Special Security Organization for Counter-Intelligence for training, which focused on evasion methods, interrogation resistance techniques, and how to mislead inspectors.  Among other points:  weapons at a facility in mid-December were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work being done there; on order from Saddam Hussein, Iraqi officials issued a false death certificate for one scientist, and he was sent into hiding.  That list went on and on, he said.

By the standard set out in operative paragraph 4 of resolution 1441 (2002), he said he believed that Iraq was now in further material breach.  That conclusion was “irrefutable and undeniable”.  Iraq had now placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for under that resolution.  At the same time, the Council placed itself in danger of irrelevance if it allowed Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately.  The issue before that body now was not how much more time it was willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction, but how much longer it was willing to put up with Iraq’s non-compliance before it said “Enough!”, he said.

Turning to biological weapons, he recalled that it had taken the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) four long and frustrating years to pry an admission out of Iraq that it had biological weapons.  When it finally admitted having those weapons in 1995, the quantities were vast.  Less than a teaspoonful of dry anthrax in an envelope had shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001.  That had forced several hundred people to undergo emergency medical treatment, and killed two postal workers.  Iraq had declared 8,500 litres of anthrax, but UNSCOM estimated that Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 litres.  If concentrated in dry form, that amount would be enough to fill tens of thousands of teaspoons, and Saddam Hussein had not verifiably accounted for even one teaspoon of that deadly material.

Continuing, he said that one of the most worrisome things that emerged from the thick intelligence file the United States had on Iraq’s biological weapons programme was mobile production facilities for biological agents.  His country had first-hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and rails, which could be easily moved and were designed to evade detection by inspectors.  In a matter of months, they could produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.

He said that, during previous inspections, the United Nations inspectors had had only vague hints of that programme.  The confirmation had come only in 2000, from an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of those facilities.  His account had been corroborated by other sources.  Iraq had at least seven of those sophisticated mobile biological weapons factories.  In fact, they could produce enough dry biological agent in a month to kill thousands upon thousands of people.  From Iraq’s past admissions, it was known that it had successfully weaponized not only anthrax, but also other biological agents, including aflatoxin and ricin.

Iraq had also investigated dozens of biological agents causing diseases, he continued, such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus, cholera and haemorrhagic fever.  It had developed ways to disperse lethal biological agents, widely, indiscriminately, into the water supply and into the air.  In 1995, an Iraqi military officer, Mujahid Salh Abdul Latif, had told inspectors that Iraq intended the spray tanks to be mounted onto an MIG-21 that had been converted into an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.  Iraq had also admitted to producing four spray tanks, but to this day it had provided no credible evidence that they had been destroyed.  There could be no doubt that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more.  It also had the ability to dispense those lethal poisons and diseases in ways that caused massive death and destruction.

Turning to chemical weapons, he said that it was important to keep in mind that Saddam Hussein had used those horrific weapons on another country and on his own people.  In fact, in the history of chemical warfare, no country had more battlefield experience with chemical weapons since the First World War than Iraq.  Saddam Hussein had also never accounted for vast amounts of chemical weaponry -– 550 artillery shells with mustard, 30,000 empty munitions and enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500 tons of chemical agents.  Considering just one category of missing weaponry –- 6,500 bombs from the Iran-Iraq war –- the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) had said that the amount of chemical agent in them would be on the order of 1,000 tons.  The United States had evidence that those weapons existed, but there was no evidence from Iraq that they had been destroyed.

Iraq’s record on chemical weapons was replete with lies, he said.  It had taken years for Iraq to admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent VX.  To this day, Iraq was denying that it had ever weaponized VX.  Yet, on 27 January, UNMOVIC had told the Council that it had information that conflicted with the Iraqi account of its VX programme. 

Iraq had embedded key portions of its illicit chemical weapons infrastructure within its legitimate civilian industry, he continued.  Even to experts, that infrastructure looked like an ordinary civilian operation.  The inspectors would be unlikely to turn up anything prohibited, especially if there was warning that they were coming.  “Call it ingenious -– or evil genius –- but the Iraqis deliberately designed their chemical weapons programme to be inspected”, he said.

Presenting evidence related to the “delivery end of Saddam’s chemical weapons business”, he said that in May 2002 his country’s satellites had photographed unusual activity at the Al-Musayyib chemical complex.  In the photograph before the Council, cargo vehicles were accompanied by a decontamination vehicle associated with biological or chemical weapons activity. What made the picture so significant was that a human source had corroborated that movement of chemical weapons.

To support its deadly biological and chemical programmes, Iraq procured needed items from around the world using an extensive clandestine network.  What the United States knew came largely from intercepted communications and human sources who were in a position to know the facts.  Iraq’s procurement efforts included equipment that could filter and separate micro-organisms and toxins involved in biological weapons and to concentrate the agent, as well as growth media that could be used to continue producing anthrax and botulism toxins, sterilization equipment for laboratories, class-lined reactors and specialty pumps, large amounts of a precursor for nerve and blister agents -- thionyl chloride, and other chemicals, including sodium chloride, an important mustard agents precursor.

Of course, Iraq would argue that those items could also be used for legitimate purposes, he said, but if that were true, why did the United States have to learn about them by intercepting communications and risking the lives of human agents?  His conservative estimate was that Iraq today had a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent, which was enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.  Even 100 tons of agent would cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory -– an area nearly five times the size of Manhattan.  In that connection, he reminded the Council that the 122-millimetre chemical warheads that United Nations inspectors had found could very well be, as had been noted, “the tip of a submerged iceberg”.

Other sources testified to the fact that, since the 1980s, Saddam’s regime had been experimenting on human beings to perfect its biological or chemical weapons.  A source said, for example, that 1,600 death-row prisoners were transferred in 1995 to a special unit for such experiments.  An eyewitness saw prisoners tied down to beds, blood oozing around their mouths, and autopsies performed to confirm the effects on the prisoners.  Saddam Hussein’s inhumanity had no limits.

Turning to nuclear weapons, he said that there was no indication that Saddam Hussein had ever abandoned his nuclear programme.  On the contrary, there was more than a decade of proof that he remained determined to acquire nuclear weapons.  While in 1991 the inspectors had found nothing to conclude that Iraq had a nuclear weapons programme, based on defector information, in May of 1991 Saddam Hussein’s lie was exposed.  In fact, he had a massive clandestine nuclear weapons programme that included several techniques to enrich uranium, including electromagnetic isotope separation, gas centrifuge, and gas diffusion.  If Saddam had not been stopped, Iraq could have produced a nuclear bomb by 1993.  In 1995, another defector had reported that, after his invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein had initiated a crash programme to build a crude nuclear weapon in violation of Iraq’s United Nations obligations.

Saddam Hussein already possessed two of the three key components needed to build a nuclear bomb.  He had a cadre of nuclear scientists with the expertise, and he had a bomb design.  Since 1998, his efforts had been focused on acquiring the third and last component –- sufficient fissile material to produce a nuclear explosion.  He had made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after the inspection resumed.  Those tubes were controlled by the nuclear suppliers group precisely because they could be used as centrifuges for enriching uranium.  While there was a lot of controversy about those tubes, most United States experts thought they were intended to serve as the rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The United States also had intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq was attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines, he said.  Both items could be used in a gas centrifuge programme to enrich uranium.  Intercepted communications from mid-2000 through last summer showed that Iraqi front companies sought to buy machines that could be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors.  People would continue to debate that issue, but there was no doubt in his mind.  Those illicit procurement efforts showed that Saddam Hussein was very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons programme -– the ability to produce fissile material.

Mr. Powell then turned to the systems he said Iraq was developing to deliver weapons of mass destruction, in particular, Iraq’s ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  While inspectors had destroyed most of the prohibited ballistic missiles, numerous intelligence reports over the past decade from sources inside Iraq indicated Saddam Hussein retained a covert force of up to a few dozen SCUD-Variant ballistic missiles with a range of 650 to 900 kilometres.  Iraq’s alleged “permitted” ballistic missiles, the Al-Samoud 2 and the Al-Fatah, violated the 150 kilometres limit and were prohibited systems.  The UNMOVIC had also reported that Iraq had illegally imported 380 SA-2 Rocket engines, some acquired as late as December last year, after resolution 1441 had been adopted.

While showing a map and a photo, he said that Iraq had programmes intended to produce ballistic missiles that fly over a thousand kilometres.  As part of the effort, Iraq had built an engine test stand that was larger than any it had ever had.  The missiles were intended to project power, to threaten and to deliver chemical, biological and, “if we let him”, eventually, nuclear warheads.

Iraq had been working on a variety of UAVs for more than a decade.  The UAVs were well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons, and there was ample evidence that Iraq had dedicated much effort to developing and testing spray devices that could be adapted for UAVs.  Intelligence collected on 27 June last year indicated that Iraq’s newest UAV went 500 kilometres non-stop on autopilot. Not only was the test well in excess of the 150-kilometre limit, the test was left out of Iraq’s 7 December declaration.  That declaration had claimed that its UAVs had a range of only 80 kilometres.  Iraq could use UAVs to deliver biological agents to its neighbours or, if transported, to other countries, including the United States.

Turning to the subject of terrorism, he said Iraq and terrorism went back decades.  Baghdad trained Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives, and Saddam used the Arab Liberation Front to funnel money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.  It was no secret that Saddam’s own intelligence service was involved in dozens of attacks or attempted assassinations in the 1990s.  There was, however, the potentially more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda network.  Iraq today harboured a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associate of Usama Bin Laden.  After the Taliban had been ousted from Afghanistan, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training centre in north-eastern Iraq.

Baghdad had an agent in the most senior levels of a radical organization, Ansar Al-Islam, that controlled that corner of Iraq, he continued.  In 2000, that agent had offered Al Qaeda safe haven in the region.  Zarqawi travelled to Baghdad in May 2002 for medical treatment, and during his stay nearly two dozen extremists converged on Baghdad and established a base of operations there.  Those Al Qaeda affiliates now coordinated the movement of people, money, and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network and had been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months.  Denials on the part of Iraqi officials were not credible. Last year, an Al Qaeda associate had bragged that the situation in Iraq was “good”, that Baghdad could be transited quickly.

Last year, two suspected Al Qaeda operatives were arrested crossing from Iraq into Saudi Arabia.  The captured assassin of Laurence Foley, murdered in Amman, Jordan, last October, had said his cell received money and weapons from Zarqawi.  After the attack, Mr. Powell said, an associate of Mr. Foley’s killer left Jordan for Iraq to obtain weapons and explosives for further operations.  The United States had asked a friendly security service to approach Baghdad about extraditing Zarqawi.  That service had contacted Iraqi officials twice and had passed details that should have made it easy to find him.  The network remained in Baghdad, and Zarqawi still remained at large.  His network’s terrorism was not confined to the Middle East.  Zarqawi and his network had plotted terrorist actions against countries, including France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany and Russia.

When Bin Laden was based in the Sudan, in the early and mid-1990s, anAl Qaeda source had said that Saddam and Bin Laden had reached an “understanding” that Al Qaeda would not longer support activities against Baghdad.  Early ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda had been forged by secret high-level Iraqi intelligence service contacts.  Members of both organizations had met repeatedly and had met at least eight times at “very senior levels” since the early 1990s.  A foreign security service had told the United States that Bin Laden had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum and later with the Director of the Iraqi intelligence service.  He said he was not comforted by the belief of some that the contacts did not amount to much, as Hussein’s secular tyranny and Al Qaeda’s religious tyranny did not mix.  Ambition and hatred were enough to bring Iraq and Al Qaeda together.

A detained senior Al Qaeda terrorist had described Iraq offering chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates beginning in December 2000.  A militant known as Abu Abdallay Al-Iraqi had been sent to Iraq several times between 1997 and 2000 for help in acquiring poisons and gases.  That militant had characterized his relationship with Iraqi officials as “successful”. None of that should come as a surprise to any.  Terrorism had been a tool of Saddam for decades.  The nexus of poisons and terror was new.  The nexus of Iraq and terror was old.  “The combination is lethal”, Mr. Powell said.  “When we confront a regime that harbours ambitions of regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction, and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past.  We are confronting the present -– and unless we act -– an even more frightening future.”

He said underlying all the facts and patterns of behaviour described was Saddam Hussein’s contempt for the will of the Council, his contempt for the truth, and, most damning of all, his utter contempt for human life.  His use of mustard and nerve gas against the Kurds in 1988 was one of the twentieth century’s most horrible atrocities.  He had also conducted ethnic cleansing against the Shia Iraqis and the Marsh Arabs.  His police State ruthlessly eliminated anyone who dared to dissent.  Iraq had more forced disappearance cases than any other country.  “Nothing points more clearly to Saddam Hussein’s dangerous intentions -– and the threat he poses to all of us -– than his calculated cruelty to his own citizens and to his neighbours”, he said.  “Saddam Hussein and his regime will stop at nothing until something stops him.”

In conclusion, Mr. Powell said that, for more than 20 years, Saddam Hussein had pursued his ambition to dominate Iraq and the broader Middle East, using intimidation, coercion and annihilation of all those who might stand in his way. Saddam Hussein was determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction and make more.  “Should we take the risk that he will not someday use these weapons at a time and a place and in a manner of his choosing -– at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?” he asked, and continued, “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 11 world.”

He said over three months ago, the Council had recognized that Iraq continued to pose a threat to international peace and security and that Iraq had been and remained in material breach of its disarmament obligations.  Today, Iraq still posed a threat and still remained in material breach.  “Indeed, by its failure to seize 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.”  Resolution 1441 was not written to go to war, but to preserve the peace.  Iraq was not taking the last chance it had been offered.  “We must not shrink from whatever lies ahead of us. We must not shrink from our duty to the citizens of our countries”, he concluded.

Statements by Other Members

TANG JIAXUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the Council had basically maintained unity and cooperation on the issue before it today, which was critically important.  He welcomed the United States’ effort to provide the United Nations with its information and evidence on mass destruction weapons in Iraq, which was consistent with the spirit of resolution 1441 (2002) and could help increase transparency.  He hoped the various parties would hand over their information and evidence to UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help them achieve more effective inspections.  The inspections had been going on for more than two months, and everyone should respect the views of the two agencies and support the continuation of their work.

He hoped, he said, the upcoming trip to Baghdad by Dr. Blix and            Dr. ElBaradei on 8 February would yield positive results.  The Council had a common stand on the elimination of mass destruction weapons in Iraq.  It was also the universal desire of the international community to see a political settlement to the issue within the United Nations framework, and to avoid any war.  At present, the most important issue was full implementation of resolution 1441 (2002).  As long as there was still the slightest hope for political settlement, the utmost effort should be exerted to achieve it.  China was ready to join others in working in that direction.

JACK STRAW, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that the Council had just heard a most powerful and authoritative account of Iraq’s practices by Mr. Powell, which demonstrated the great danger that Iraq’s regime represented.  Three months ago, the Council had united to send Iraq an uncompromising message:  cooperate fully with weapons inspections or face disarmament by force.  Resolution 1441 was a powerful reminder of the importance of international law and the authority of the Security Council itself.  United and determined, the international community had given Iraq a final opportunity to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction, of gases that could poison thousands of people; of bacteria and viruses that could disable and kill by the tens of thousands; of the means to make nuclear weapons, which could kill by the million.

Without Iraq’s immediate, full and active cooperation, however, inspectors in a country as huge as Iraq could never be sure of finding all weapons of mass destruction, he continued.  Sadly, the inspectors’ report last week and

Mr. Powell’s presentation today left no illusions -- Iraq held resolution 1441 in the same contempt as previous resolutions on the matter.  Saddam Hussein was gambling that the international community would lose its nerve, rather than impose its will.

Resolution 1441 had set two clear tests for further material breach by Iraq, he said.  First, it must not make “false statements” or “omissions” in its declaration.  However, the documents that Iraq had submitted in December, while long on repetition, were neither full nor accurate, nor complete.  The declaration’s central premise that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction was a lie, which had been repeated yesterday on television by Saddam Hussein.  The declaration also had obvious omissions, not least a failure to explain what had happened to the large quantities of chemical and biological weapons materiel and munitions unaccounted for by United Nations inspectors in 1998.  And there was no admission of Iraq’s extensive efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction since the last round of UNSCOM inspections ended in December 1998.

Regarding a second test for a further material breach, namely, “a failure by Iraq at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation” of resolution 1441, he said that it was clear that Iraq had failed that test.  Last week’s briefing and today’s presentation had confirmed the worst fears:  that Iraq had no intention of relinquishing its weapons of mass destruction and no intention of following the path of peaceful disarmament set out in resolution 1441.  “Instead of open admissions and transparency, we have a charade, where a veneer of superficial cooperation masks wilful concealment, the extent of which has been devastatingly revealed this morning by Secretary Powell”, he said.

He said that among the questions remaining were:  why was Iraq refusing to allow UNMOVIC to use a U-2 plane to conduct aerial imagery and surveillance operations; when would it account for 6,500 bombs which could carry up to

1,000 tons of chemical agent; and how would Iraq justify having a prohibited chemical precursor for mustard gas?  There could be only one conclusion:  Iraq was in further material breach, as set out in resolution 1441.

Given what had to follow, and the difficult choice now facing the Council, it would be easy to turn a blind eye to the wording of the resolution and hope for a change of heart by Iraq, he continued.  Easy, but wrong, because in doing so the Council would be repeating the mistakes of the past 12 years and empowering a dictator who believed his diseases and poison gases were essential weapons to suppress his own people and to threaten his neighbours.

“Saddam must be left in no doubt as to the serious situation he now faces”, he said.  The United Kingdom did not want war.  It wanted the United Nations system to be upheld.  But the logic of 1441 was now inescapable: time was now very short.  If non-cooperation continued, the Council must meet its responsibilities.  Now was a moment of choice for Saddam and the Iraqi regime.  It was also a moment of choice for the United Nations.  The League of Nations -– the United Nations’ pre-war predecessor –- had failed because it could not create actions from its words.  “We owe it to our history, as well as to our future, not to make the same mistake again”, he said.

IGOR S. IVANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said his country viewed today’s meeting through the prism of the consistent United Nations efforts to find a political settlement of the situation on the basis of complete and scrupulous compliance with its resolutions.  The deployment of international inspectors in Iraq had demonstrated the ability of the international community to act together.  He was convinced that maintaining the unity of the international community, within the context of the Council, and concerted actions in compliance with the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions were the most reliable way of solving the problem of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq through political means.

The Council, and through it the international community, must have all of the necessary information it needed to answer the question about whether weapons of mass destruction remained in Iraq, he said.  The information given today required further and serious study and had to be immediately handed over to UNMOVIC and the IAEA for on-site verification.  The inspectors must answer the questions asked by the United States.  He appealed to all States to immediately hand over to inspectors any information that could help them discharge their mandate.  Information provided today indicated that the activities of the inspectors in Iraq must continue.  They alone could help the Council work out the best possible and balanced decision.

Mr. Blix’s and Mr. ElBaradei’s statements showed that in Iraq a unique inspection system had been deployed which had everything it needed to ensure compliance with resolution 1441.  The Council must do everything possible to support the inspection process.  His country was prepared to provide an airplane for aerial monitoring and additional inspectors.  It was obvious that the work of UNMOVIC and the IAEA could be effective only with full cooperation, in good faith, by Iraq.  That would be the only way towards a political settlement, including the lifting of sanctions.  Iraq should realize how crucial that was and do everything possible to allow the inspectors discharge their mandate.  Resolution 1441 was geared towards speedy and practical results, but timeframes were absent.  Only the inspectors could determine how much time was needed for their task.

He said the international community in the twenty-first century was confronting new global threats, requiring a unified response from all States.  The creation of the broad coalition combating international terrorism was an example of that.  It was obvious that a difficult battle with terrorism lay ahead, and the information provided today was further corroboration of that.  Unity in the world was pivotal in approaching that, or any problem.  Tactical differences might arise, but must not overshadow the strategic goals in the interest of common security and stability.

FRANÇOIS-XAVIER NGOUBEYOU, Minister of External Relations of Cameroon, said that the information presented today was certainly troubling.  It was now up to the Council to make the best use of it, in the spirit of the process provided by resolution 1441 (2002).  The data just produced could facilitate the inspections.  Would it not be wise to provide the inspectors with that information and give them more time to do their job? he asked.  It was undoubtedly the first time since the Cuban missile crisis that the peoples of the world were assessing two options –- diplomatic or peaceful; or a war which, in its wake, had grave consequences for Iraq, the Middle East and the world.

He said the Council did not act on the basis of public opinion, but the disarmament of Iraq clearly divided people into two schools of thought.  Both sides had assuredly assessed the role and the mission of the Council, which was today considered a decisive player from which the world expected a solution.  Cameroon recommended the continuation and implementation of forceful and robust action to compel Iraq to cooperate fully with the inspection teams.  He appreciated the commitment of the United States to the eradication of all mass destruction weapons in Iraq.

At the same time, he went on, the Council’s central role must be preserved, reaffirmed and respected, as it took a decision, in one direction or another.  War was not inevitable; the inspectors should be given time to study and verify the information just presented.  The UNMOVIC and the IAEA must continue their delicate mission, with strengthened resolve and in a more robust manner.  He asked the Secretary-General to go to Iraq to speak with Saddam Hussein about that urgent problem.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that the report presented to the Security Council by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell contained information, indications and questions that deserved to be explored further, but it would be up to the inspectors to assess the facts in accordance with resolution 1441 (2002).  Already, the report brought a new justification to the path chosen by the United Nations, which should strengthen the international community’s common resolve on the disarmament of Iraq.

He noted that there were still “gray areas” in Iraq’s cooperation with the inspections, such as the unresolved questions in the ballistic, chemical and biological areas.  Those uncertainties were unacceptable.  As a priority, the focus must be on the biological and chemical domains, since it was there that presumptions about Iraq were most significant.  “So, it is a demanding démarche, anchored in resolution 1441, that we must take together.”  If that path failed and led into a dead end, then France ruled out no option, including the use of force as a last resort, to ensure Iraqi compliance.

But, he added, in such a hypothesis, the entire world needed to be provided with answers to several questions in order to limit the risks and uncertainties.  To what extent did the nature and scope of the threat justify the recourse to force?  How could the considerable risks of such an intervention actually be kept under control?  That, obviously, required a collective responsibility on the part of the world community.

For now, he continued, the inspections regime, as outlined in resolution 1441, should be strengthened since it had not been explored to the end, and the use of force could only be a final recourse.  “Why go to war if there still exists an unused space in resolution 1441?” he asked.  Consistent with the logic of that resolution, efforts had to be made to move on to a new stage and further strengthen the inspections.  Given the choice between military intervention and an inspections regime that was inadequate for lack of cooperation on Iraq’s part, the international community should choose to strengthen decisively the means of inspection, he said.  For example, the international community could double or triple the number of inspectors, increase the monitoring capabilities, and establish an information-processing centre to supply the needed intelligence resources.  Such an enhanced regime could be complemented by having a permanent United Nations coordinator for disarmament in Iraq.

In that regard, he urged Iraq to cooperate actively.  That should include permitting meetings with Iraqi scientists without witnesses and agreeing to

U-2 observer flights, among other demands.  Iraqi authorities must also provide inspectors with answers to the new information presented by Secretary of State Powell, between now and the inspectors’ next report on 14 February.  The upcoming trip to Baghdad by Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei would have to be the occasion for clear results to that end.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, LUIS ERNESTO DERBEZ, said that today’s presentation clearly contained valuable information to help determine and guide the Council’s decisions.  It would also provide the Council with additional elements of judgement in determining the extent to which Iraq had complied with its resolutions.

Mr. Powell’s presentation had reinforced Mexico’s firm belief in the need for progress towards effective and verifiable elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as well as the facilities for developing them, he continued.  Mexico’s position had been unequivocally aimed at achieving the disarmament of Iraq in the most effective way possible and by peaceful means, while ensuring at all times that that goal was achieved at the lowest cost in terms of human suffering and economic instability, without undermining the urgent battle against international terrorism.

Consistent with that position, his Government had made direct approaches to the Iraqi authorities, urging them to cooperate without delay in the manner required by the inspectors.  Mexico had also shared the content of those initiatives with other members of the Council so that the message could be conveyed to the Iraqi authorities as forcefully as possible and through the greatest possible number of channels.  In the presence of Iraq’s representatives at the Council table, he wanted to repeat his call for that country to concretely translate its declared intentions into active cooperation and genuine collaboration with the inspection process, as provided for in resolution 1441, he said.

Concluding, he reaffirmed his country’s confidence in the inspection activities as the best possible way to detect, destroy and verify the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  He was in favour of intensifying and strengthening those inspections, as well as the assistance that members of the Council and the international community, in general, could provide to UNMOVIC and to the IAEA to successfully accomplish their delicate mission.

It was in that context that Mexico recognized the importance of today’s presentation to the Council by the United States, he said.  It reiterated its willingness to continue to make a constructive contribution to the work of the Security Council, in the conviction that cooperation and the search for multilateral solutions would give greater weight to the decisions of that body.

SOLOMON PASSY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, said his country had aligned itself with the position taken by the European Union.  The compelling evidence presented today shed additional light on the realities in Iraq as far as the implementation of resolution 1441 and other Council resolutions was concerned. He hoped that the data made public could still be used by UNMOVIC and the IAEA. Resolution 1441 had unanimously been adopted as a last chance for the disarmament of Iraq by peaceful means.  Today’s Council meeting would carry a compelling message to the international community.

He said Iraq’s cooperation had not been satisfactory on substantive issues identified by the inspectors.  He insisted that Iraq provide all additional and complete information confirming the destruction of any available weapons of mass destruction.  It was paramount that Iraq change its attitude to proactive cooperation with the inspectors.  So far, Iraq had been in material breach of relevant Council resolutions, including resolution 1441.  He expected Iraq to comply fully with its disarmament obligations by the next briefing by inspectors, scheduled for 14 February.

Effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq was still possible through the implementation of 1441, he said.  At the same time, the international community should assume its responsibilities for ensuring the implementation of the respective Council resolutions.  In the event that in the near future inspectors did not report that Iraq had changed its attitude, the Council would have to take all necessary and appropriate action for implementation of relevant resolutions adopted since 1990.

KHURSHID M. KASURI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said he welcomed the United States’ initiative to work through the United Nations in seeking the elimination of mass destruction weapons in Iraq.  The extensive presentation made by Secretary Powell would add to the knowledge base of Council members, and, even more importantly, enhance the ability of the inspectors to identify areas of concerns and to pursue more specific lines of action.  The presentation, therefore, was a significant step forward in responding to the challenge facing the Council in securing full implementation of its resolutions regarding Iraq’s disarmament.

He said that, following the presentations last week by Drs. Blix and ElBaradei, the majority of Council members felt that full verification of the Iraqi declaration would require more active cooperation from that country.  In particular, Dr. Blix asked the Iraqi Government to take three steps in the context of his forthcoming visit to Baghdad:  allow free and unrestricted aerial surveillance, including manned and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles; agree to private interviews of Iraqi scientists; and adopt legislation prohibiting the acquisition and local production of weapons of mass destruction.  Iraq should move swiftly towards meeting those requirements.

The briefings by the head inspectors were not meant to be conclusive, he said.  Their conclusions –- positive or negative -- should be awaited.  The inspectors’ report in the future would constitute an indispensable element in the judgement that the Council was supposed to make regarding Iraqi compliance, as envisaged in resolution 1441 (2002).

While the international community was justified in bringing about the earlier possible compliance by Iraq with its resolutions, he said it could not ignore other elements that arose in the context of security, namely:  ameliorating the suffering and ensuring the welfare of the Iraqi people; preserving the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq; and preserving the political and economic stability of the region.

ANA PALACIO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, expressed gratitude to Secretary Powell for the information provided to the Council today.  The fact  that the United States had presented the evidence to the United Nations was a recognition of the importance of keeping the question of Iraq within the framework of the Organization.  The data presented today led to a conclusion that Iraq was deceiving the international community and violating its obligations established under resolution 1441.  The presentation had also demonstrated the links of Saddam Hussein’s regime to terrorism.

Iraq should not be allowed to accumulate weapons of mass destruction, she continued.  The lack of cooperation by Iraq could be explained by the fact that Saddam Hussein had not given up his plans to develop biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.  The IAEA and UNMOVIC had full confidence in their ability to uncover the truth, but inspections were not an end in itself.  The inspections could only bear fruit with active cooperation by Iraq.  So far, that was not the case.   The question remained, of the lack of will on behalf of the regime to fulfil its disarmament obligations.  The Council could and should demand full cooperation from Iraq, which should disarm without delay and without any concealment.

She went on to say that at stake was the credibility of the Security Council, which had become an invaluable instrument of maintaining international peace and security.  Yet, for 12 years, it had witnessed consistent non-compliance on behalf of Iraq.  It was time to send a message that accumulation of weapons of mass destruction by that country was a threat to international peace and security.

Spain continued to maintain as a fundamental principle the need for compliance with Council resolutions, she said.  Iraq must face the most serious consequences for its non-compliance.  In spite of continued non-compliance by Iraq, however, there was a still a chance for that country if it radically modified its behaviour.  Now, the international community was offering the last chance to Saddam Hussein, and she hoped he would not miss that opportunity.

SOLEDAD ALVEAR VALENZUELA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, expressed concern at the serious information just received, which pointed to a pattern of defiance by Iraq in fulfilling its obligation of unconditional and immediate disarmament.  Resolution 1441 gave Iraq a last opportunity to fulfil its disarmament obligations, but the Iraqi regime was now bringing its people into greater suffering.  Attempts at partial compliance and attempting to deceive or obstruct the process were violations of the resolutions.  Such an attitude no doubt derived from the authoritarian attitude of the regime.

She said the inspections process must be continued so that the process could lead to conclusions the Council could use for its decisions.  The inspections could lead to the goal of peace only if pressure was kept upon Iraq.  It was up to the head of UNMOVIC, in accordance with paragraph 11 of resolution 1441, immediately to inform the Council of any non-compliance on the part of Iraq, including that related to Iraq’s obligation of cooperation with inspections.  She demanded action and information from Iraq without any delay or hesitations, and the accusations levelled today required urgent and precise clarification by Iraq.

The Council must use the mechanisms of multilateral cooperation, she said.  The adoption of resolution 1441 had demonstrated the unity of which the Council was capable, and it must persevere in efforts to maintain a shared position.  A crucial stage was being entered in a situation involving many fears concerning the region and the world, and she was concerned at the consequences of ending the use of diplomatic channels.  She appealed to Iraq to consider its responsibilities to the Council and the preservation of international peace and security.

GEORGES REBELO CHIKOTI, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, thanked Secretary Powell for sharing with the Council that compelling evidence.  The information presented today by Mr. Powell introduced new elements, strengthening the view that it was important to continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to take a decision within the framework of the Council.  The importance of cooperation should not be minimized.  He strongly urged Iraq to do much more, especially given that its substantive cooperation was an obligation.  Only through such cooperation could Iraq prove, beyond any doubt, that it was ready to embark on a programme for the elimination of its missiles, and chemical and biological weapons.

He said the Council needed clear and unambiguous answers from Iraq to the outstanding questions raised by the inspectors.  Strengthening and enlarging the scope of the inspections were important developments and were another chance to enhance their efficiency.  If the inspections enjoyed the full political support of the Council and the international community, and if those were given adequate time, they could be a powerful tool in the common endeavour to disarm Iraq, avert war, and reinforce international peace and security.

The overall picture reinforced the need to continue the inspections, he stressed.  In that respect, he urged Iraq, the United Nations inspectors and countries with the means to do so, to pursue urgently, and more aggressively and cooperatively, decisive information leading to an accurate identification of weapons of mass destruction and their elimination, in accordance with the relevant Council resolutions.  Iraq threatened international peace and security, but he still believed that a peaceful solution could be found.  His own country was living testimony of the disastrous consequences of war.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that in order to ascertain the data presented by Secretary Powell, it was necessary to refer the facts to UNMOVIC and the IAEA.  He urged all Member States, which had accurate information regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, to submit it to the inspectors, who could assess their accuracy and report to the Council accordingly.

While the Council had unanimously adopted resolution 1441, it was no secret that Syria had joined the consensus after receiving clarifications and guarantees that the international community would seriously proceed with the investigation, refraining from the use of the resolution as a pretext for war against Iraq.  The fact that some Council members were now speaking about adopting a second resolution testified to the seriousness of that approach.

The inspections had achieved some progress, he said.  They had also not encountered serious obstacles.  The Council could still make an effort to arrive at a peaceful solution to the question of Iraq.  Syria still believed in the possibility of avoiding war, which would bring serious consequences for the whole region and endanger numerous lives.  Several days ago, the Council had addressed the issue of protecting civilians and children in conflict.  While making such efforts to protect civilians, how could it speak about going to war against a country that remained within its boundaries, while Israel continued to occupy Arab territories in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions?

It would be incorrect to believe that inspections in any part of the world could be free from obstacles and problems, he continued.  Also, from hearing the inspectors’ reports last week, it was important to ask if the difficulties encountered in Iraq were serious enough to warrant war.  Iraq had expressed its readiness to cooperate with inspections and arrive at a peaceful solution.  Iraq and the inspectors should work out a common denominator of cooperation in order to clarify the situation, as soon as possible.  The continuation of the work of the inspectors would definitely lead to building confidence in the region.  Syria was calling on the Council to continue to endorse the work of the inspectors and give them sufficient time to carry out their mandate under resolution 1441.

He added that the Council should also lift the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people and activate the provisions of its resolution calling for the declaration of the Middle East as a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, without any exceptions.  Those provisions should include Israel, which was the only country in the region possessing such weapons.  It was important to arrive at a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis.  Iraq’s neighbours had expressed a readiness to cooperate with the Council towards that end.  A peaceful settlement would save the thousands of lives that would be lost through military action outside of the legitimacy of the Council.

MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) said the information and intelligence provided by  Mr. Powell would be transmitted immediately to the competent authorities for evaluation.  He hoped other States would also put information at the disposition of the inspectors.  That was one of the recommendations of resolution 1441 that, had it been implemented, would have allowed the inspectors to have made more progress in the field.  The 27 January reports of Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei had shown that, from the point of view of procedure, progress had been made.  Thanks to cooperation of Iraqi authorities, for instance, inspectors had had easy access to more than 200 sites, including presidential sites and private residences.  That had helped UNMOVIC and the IAEA to make a partial evaluation of the Iraqi arsenal.

Turning to substantive questions, he said there was still work to be done, particularly in the biological, chemical and ballistic missiles area.  The inspectors had reported that the 7 December declaration of Iraq had been inadequate, that interviews with scientists did not proceed satisfactorily and that reconnaissance flights by U-2 airplanes were not possible.  Iraqi cooperation had been more forthcoming on matters of procedure than on substance.  He, therefore, appealed to Iraq to scrupulously conform to its obligations under resolution 1441.  Among other things, Iraq must give precise responses to numerous questions not addressed, including convincing proof of unilateral destruction of certain biological and chemical weapons.  Iraq should also provide without delay a credible and updated list of scientists involved in arms programmes.

While the promise of better cooperation was encouraging, Iraqi authorities must translate that promise into verifiable action.  The possibility of the suspension or lifting of sanctions should encourage Iraq to fully cooperate with inspectors.  The existence of gray areas, on the one hand, and progress made, on the other, indicated that inspections must go on.  His country had always stressed peaceful settlement of the matter.  There were still chances for a peaceful settlement, and those chances must be grasped.  “Today, we are witnessing a crucial stage for maintenance of international peace and security.  We must work in unity to build a world of peace and cooperation”, he said.

JOSCHKA FISCHER, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the place and timing of today’s detailed account underlined, once more, that the Security Council remained the centre of decision-making on the Iraq crisis.  It was now decisive that the inspectors were also provided with that extensive material, in order to be able to clarify the unresolved questions, quickly and fully.  He had no illusions about the inhumane and brutal nature of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.  Under his rule, Iraq had attacked its neighbours, Kuwait and Iran, fired missiles at Israel, and deployed poison gas against Iran and its own Kurdish population. 

He said that several States suspected that Saddam Hussein’s regime was withholding relevant information and concealing military capabilities.  That strong suspicion must be dispelled beyond any doubt.  At the same time, the dangers of military action were plain to see.  A peaceful solution must continue to be sought.  The instruments of inspection and control should be toughened.  The French delegation made some very interesting proposals on that matter, which deserved further consideration.  Moreover, diplomatic efforts under way by States in the region to bring the Iraqi Government to fully implement the resolutions should be supported.  Iraq should disarm openly, peacefully and in cooperation with the inspectors, without any delay.

Statement by Iraq

MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said his country would provide detailed and technical explanatory answers to the allegations made in Mr. Powell’s statement.  What had been mentioned in the presentation was utterly unrelated to the truth.  No new information had been provided, except for sound recordings that could not be ascertained as genuine.  What had been presented contained incorrect allegations, unnamed and unknown sources, as well as assumptions in line with the American policy towards one known objective.

He said President Hussein had reiterated in his interview yesterday that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction, a statement repeated by numerous Iraqi officials for more than a decade.  Mr. Powell could have spared himself, his team and the Council the effort by presenting his allegations directly to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in accordance with resolution 1441.  He could have left the inspectors to work in peace and without pressure. 

At any rate, the forthcoming visit of Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei on the eighth and ninth of this month would be another opportunity to verify the validity of those allegations, he continued.  The ongoing inspections had proven the falsity of previous allegations and reports issued by the United States and the United Kingdom.  Iraq had submitted an accurate, comprehensive and updated declaration of 12,000 pages, he continued.  It included detailed information on previous Iraqi programmes, as well as updated information on the country’s industries in various fields.

The inspectors had begun their activities in Iraq as of 27 November, he said.  By 4 February, the inspection teams had conducted 575 inspections all over Iraq covering 321 sites.  The sites referred to by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair in their September reports, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report of October 2002, topped the list of the sites inspected by the United Nations teams.  The inspections had ascertained that all the allegations contained in those reports were not true.  That confirmed Iraq’s declaration that it was free from weapons of mass destruction.  It was well known that the inspectors had taken samples of water, soil, plants, air, factory and production remnants throughout Iraq.  The analysis of those samples conducted by UNMOVIC and the IAEA confirmed the absence of any indication of proscribed chemical,

biological or radiological agents, or any proscribed activities in any part of Iraq.

In his statement to The New York Times on 30 January, Mr. Blix had confirmed that the inspectors had not ascertained any of the scenarios alleged by

Mr. Powell, including movement of proscribed materials aiming at concealment.  He had confirmed that he had not found enough reasons to believe that Iraq was sending scientists out of the country to prevent them from being interviewed.  He also had no reason to believe what President Bush had said in his State of the Union address regarding Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists for the interviews.  Iraq was encouraging its scientists to participate in the interviews requested by UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

As for the mobile laboratories, he said that Mr. Blix had stated that UNMOVIC to date had found no proof of those laboratories’ existence.  His country did not object to overflights of U2 planes.  The obstruction to those overflights stemmed from the presence of United States and United Kingdom warplanes in the illegally imposed no-flight zones.  It would be sufficient if those flights were suspended during the U2 overflights.  Allegations that trucks had left sites before the arrival of inspection teams were unfounded.  Inspection teams, after all, arrived unannounced, and UNMOVIC and the IAEA had their own resources for surveillance.

Programmes for weapons of mass destruction were not like an aspirin pill easily hidden.  Such programmes required huge facilities which could not be concealed, and inspectors, criss-crossing the country had not found them. Regarding the sound recordings, he said scientific and technical progress had allowed for fabrication of such allegations.  As for the alleged relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, he said that, recently, Saddam Hussein had said that if such relationship had existed, he would not have been ashamed to admit it.  Such a relationship did not exist, he had said.

Analysts at the CIA had complained that administration officials had exaggerated reports on that issue, he said.  Mr. Straw of the United Kingdom had set aside intelligence reports from his own Government asserting that such a relationship did not exist.  Mr. Powell’s assertion that Iraq had used chemical weapons against his own people was surprising.  A CIA official had recently stated that the United States Administration had known since 1998 that Iraq had not used such weapons for the simple reason it did not have the weapons used in the mentioned incident.

The clear goal of the Council meeting today and Mr. Powell’s presentation was to sell the idea of war against Iraq without any legal, moral or political justification, he said.  He reiterated Iraq’s commitment to continue proactive cooperation with the inspection teams so they could verify as soon as possible that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction in order for unjust sanctions to be lifted.  Regional security could be ensured by disarming weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, including the huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in Israel, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 14 of Council resolution 687 (1991).

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For information media. Not an official record.