- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 5 (UPI) — The Iraqi liaison between Iraq and international arms inspectors ridiculed the U.S. evidence of Iraqi violations presented Wednesday to the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

"It was a typical American show complete with stunts and special effects," Gen. Amer Al-Saadi said of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's 75-minute presentation. "What we heard today was for the general public and mostly the uninformed to influence public opinion and commit aggression against Iraq."

Indeed, Al-Saadi told reporters Wednesday night in Baghdad, the United States itself is in violation of Resolution 1441, which in Paragraph 10 "calls upon member states to submit all evidence in their possession" if they suspect Iraq has committed violations. Instead of handing over its evidence to the council for evaluation, the United States decided to stage a public spectacle, he said.

In his speech Wednesday to the Security Council, Powell said of the Iraqi liaison: "It was General Saadi who, last fall, publicly pledged that Iraq was prepared to cooperate unconditionally with inspectors. Quite the contrary: Saadi's job is not to cooperate, it is to deceive; not to disarm, but to undermine the inspectors; not to support them, but to frustrate them and to make sure they learn nothing."

Meanwhile, Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Aldouri was equally dismissive of Powell's report. "There are incorrect allegations, unnamed sources, unknown sources. There are assumptions and presumptions which all fall in line with the American policy towards one known objective," he told Security Council members.

In his presentation to foreign ministers and ambassadors at the United Nations, broadcast live on television, Powell said, "Iraq's behavior demonstrates that (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort — no effort — to disarm as required by the international community." The report included recordings of intercepted phone calls between senior Iraqi military officials, diagrams of biological mobile weapons labs and satellite photos of chemical weapons facilities.

Powell also gave new details of the alleged link between the Iraqi regime and the al Qaida Islamic terror network, and reiterated U.S. claims — disputed by some experts — that Iraq has sought materials to build uranium enrichment equipment to help make nuclear weapons.

Al-Saadi said the United States and its ally Britain have also "undermined the credibility" of the U.N.-mandated inspectors by contradicting their findings to date. The inspectors — weapons and scientific experts from the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency — have taken "swipes of walls, trees, furniture, whatever" and found no evidence that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons are or have been present at any of the inspection sites, he said.

Iraq's 12,000-page declaration that details its previous and current weapons programs, submitted to the United Nations in December as required, is "100 percent correct and true," Al-Saadi stated firmly. "Anything to the contrary is pure allegation."

The inspections coordinator went on to address several specific points of Powell's presentation. Among them:

— Intercepts between Iraqi officers that Powell said demonstrated the country's efforts to hide evidence of weapons of mass destruction: "Any third-rate intelligence outfit could have produced such recordings," Al-Saadi said.

— Documents detailing weapons programs and other declarable activity that Powell said Iraq has deliberately hidden, as supported by such documents discovered in the residence of a leading Iraqi scientist: That was a case of Hans Blix, head of the U.N. inspection teams, of "unfortunately … jumping to conclusions in his (Jan. 27) report before he knew the details of the documents seized."

— The testimony of Iraqi defectors: Powell ignored Blix's assessment of the information provided by defectors, replied Al-Saadi, who added Blix told him he found the information "valueless." "The aim is to have some personal gains, nothing more. Nothing relevant has ever been given me," Al-Saadi related Blix as having told him.

— Aluminum tubing whose high grade means Iraq is using it for centrifuges in an illegal nuclear-weapons program, Powell said: The Iraqi inspections coordinator countered that such a conclusion was contradictory to that of the IAEA inspectors. "Is he (Powell) the proper authority now? We would like to know who is the authority" to declare what Iraq actually uses the aluminum alloy for, he said.

— An Iraqi scientist who was taken into hiding, issued a false death certificate and replaced by an intelligence agent on the orders of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein prior to inspectors arriving at the site: The notion of faking a deceased scientist is "ridiculous" in this age of DNA analysis, said Al-Saadi, and such allegations are "below the level" of a nation that purports itself to be a world leader.

Iraqi Ambassador Aldouri, in an official reply to the presentation after brief comments by each Security Council member state, said, "Powell's statements on weapons of mass destruction are utterly unrelated to the truth. No new information was provided."

Baghdad's envoy continued, "Nevertheless Iraq will provide detailed and technical responses to the allegations made in that statement."

Outside the council chambers, he later told reporters, "It's obvious that Mr. Powell's remarks did not achieve the results the U.S.A. administration intended. The Security Council members made it clear that the information provided should be delivered to the inspectors and that the inspection process is successful and should continue. The other clear message is that inspections are working and other means should not be allowed."

Only four council members, Britain, Bulgaria, Chile and Spain, made strong statements echoing Washington's position, warning that time was running out.

"I believe that it (Powell's presentation) was a set of accusations that could easily be refuted," said Aldouri. "We are committed to proactively cooperate with inspections as we have done since their return to Iraq" on Nov. 27.

He vowed answers would be given in a Baghdad news conference that already had begun, "to respond to Mr. Powell's presentation."

Sitting at one end of the blond, horseshoe-shaped table in the elegant council chamber, Aldouri said "mere sound recordings" can not be ascertained as genuine.

"Perhaps you saw me smile as I heard some of these recordings. They contained some words that I will not attempt to translate here."

He then continued, "Powell could have spared himself, his team and the security council the effort by presenting these allegations directly" to U.N. weapons inspectors, formally called the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and the IAEA.

"He could have let the inspectors work in peace and quiet to ascertain without media pressure," said Aldouri, promising that the visit this weekend by Blix and ElBaradei, "present a further opportunity to verify and ascertain the validity of these allegations. Ongoing inspections have showed that previous allegations and reports from the United States and Britain were false."

Said the Baghdad envoy, "It is important for me to remind that programs for weapons of mass destruction are not like an aspirin pill, easily hidden. They require huge production facilities starting from research and development facilities to factories to weaponization, then deployment. Such things cannot be concealed. Inspectors have crisscrossed all of Iraq and found none of that."

He dismissed Powell's accusation of a relationship between Iraq and al Qaida by recalling Saddam recent comment that, "If we had a relationship with al Qaida and we believed in that relationship we would not be ashamed to admit it. We have no relationship with al Qaida."

Concluded Aldouri: "The clear goal behind holding the presentation of the secretary of state of false allegations before this council today is to sell the idea of war and aggression against my country, Iraq, without any legal, moral or political justification. It is an attempt to convince American public opinion first and world public opinion in general to launch a hostile war against Iraq.

"In return Iraq offers security and peace and reiterates … its commitment to continue proactive cooperation with the inspector teams," he said.


(William Reilly contributed to this report from the United Nations.)

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