- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) — On the eve of the U.N. inspectors' report to the Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell Sunday told an international audience that the United States can be trusted to be patient but is also ready to act alone against Iraq if necessary to protect the world.

In a speech and then answers to questions at the World Economic Forum of government, business and academic leaders in Davos, Switzerland, Powell set no deadline for Iraq disarmament and hinted that the United States is prepared to wait somewhat longer before deciding to attack Iraq.

Powell told those allies skeptical about the need for action against Iraq any time soon that the United States does not expect any nation to act against its "core principles."

However he added that the United States would not necessarily wait for an international consensus.

"When we feel strongly about something we will lead," he said. "We will act even if others are not prepared to join us. But the United States will always work, will always endeavor to get others to join in a consensus."

As in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and in Kuwait, after the Gulf War, and after World War II, the United States does not seek "dominion" over any other state, he said. The United States can be trusted to be patient and, if necessary, "to do our job and then leave. We seek nothing for ourselves other than to help bring about security for people who have already suffered too much."

At one point Powell said the United States will be involved in consultations for "weeks" following Monday's report on Iraq's degree of cooperation with the inspection team.

"The inspections that ended in 1998," he said, "made it absolutely clear that there were weapons of mass destruction, that there were programs to develop more weapons of mass destruction. That is not speculation, it is fact."

Powell said, "We have seen evidence; I have listed some of it here; we'll be presenting more in the days and weeks ahead." He added that the question is not if there is evidence, but "are we unwilling to acknowledge the evidence because we're unwilling to take the action that the evidence may require us to take."

That, he said, "is the debate we're going to have after the two inspectors give their report tomorrow and then we'll have to make a judgment on what steps are appropriate."

After the inspectors report, "We will have consultations between President Bush and other heads of state and government. I will do the same with my foreign minister colleagues and we'll have discussions within the United Nations," he said.

"Then we'll have to make a judgment how to move forward," he said.

Powell also touched on the state of affairs elsewhere, saying India and Pakistan must take risks for peace, and work out a resolution of their problems without outsiders, including the United States, attempting to impose a solution.

In the Mideast, "Trust has broken down," and new leadership of the Palestinians must be found that will "clamp down on terrorism."

Powell noted how the Russia, China and the United States were working together to resolve the tensions over North Korea's nuclear power intentions, in contrast to the lack of cooperation during the Cold War.

He also acknowledged that President Bush "fully recognizes that economic growth is not as strong as it should be in the United States and it is for that reason he announced a growth and jobs plan that will promote investment at home and abroad, encourage consumer spending and deliver critical help to unemployed Americans.

But it was Iraq that was the central topic of his speech before the annual meeting of governmental and corporate elites at the Swiss resort.

His remarks retraced U.S. complaints against Iraq already detailed in speeches last week by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and others.

"Without Iraq's full and active cooperation, the 100 or so inspectors would have to look under every roof and search the back of every truck in a country the size of California to find munitions and programs which Iraq has failed to account for," Powell said.

"After six weeks of inspectors the international community still needs the answer to key questions," he continued. "Where is the evidence that Iraq has destroyed the tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and botulinum we know it has before it expelled the previous inspectors?" he asked. "It's not a trivial question" about materials that can kill "millions of people."

About relations with its allies, several of whom have expressed skepticism about the need for near term action against Iraq, Powell said, "Sometimes differences are just that, differences. On occasion our experiences, our interests will lead us to see things in a different way."

The United States, he said, "will not join a consensus if we believe it compromises our core principles nor would we expect any other nation to join in a consensus that would compromise its core principles."

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