- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2003

Iraqi intelligence officers have posed as weapons specialists and a number of genuine military scientists have been spirited out of the country to frustrate U.N. inspection teams, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is expected to tell the U.N. Security Council.
Senior U.S. officials said yesterday the final details of Mr. Powell's presentation next week are still being declassified by top CIA analysts.
But officials said it will offer the most extensive public case to date arguing that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons from U.N. inspectors, failed to meet U.N. and U.S. demands to disarm, and maintained active links to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Amid new demands from other Security Council powers to provide evidence of Iraqi noncompliance, Mr. Powell said yesterday that U.S. officials are still weighing how much to release publicly without compromising intelligence sources.
"You can be sure we will be as forthcoming as we can next week while also mindful of sources and information," Mr. Powell said, after a meeting with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri.
There were signs that some U.S. allies skeptical of the need for war with Iraq were setting a high bar for Mr. Powell's appearance, at which a number of foreign ministers are expected to attend.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in New York, "We would like to see undeniable proof."
Mr. Lavrov denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin had softened his opposition to a U.S.-led campaign in Iraq, saying Moscow sided with France and China, which also wield vetoes on the Security Council, in believing the inspection process should proceed for now.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing the nature of the Iraqi regime made the inspection process difficult.
"There is every reason to know that the inspectors have a very difficult time arriving anyplace that it wasn't expected," he said. "They have a very difficult time talking to anybody that hasn't been programmed to talk to them."
Senior administration officials said the Iraqi deception involving the scientists has emerged from intelligence sources and interrogations of defectors and prisoners captured in the war on terrorism.
The administration is also considering whether to release satellite photos showing suspicious activity at suspected Iraqi nuclear-, chemical- and biological-weapons sites targeted for U.N. visits, but is still undecided whether the ambiguous visual evidence will be convincing in a public forum such as the U.N. gathering.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Mr. Powell's brief will go beyond the narrow question of Iraqi arms programs to the larger threat Baghdad poses through its links to affiliated terrorist groups and its threats to other countries in the region.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill got a preview of next week's presentation when Mr. Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld gave a briefing to flesh out charges made by President Bush in Tuesday's State of the Union address.
The verdict was mixed, with few admitting the evidence changed their position.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat who supports the administration position, said Mr. Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld offered direct support for their contention that Iraq and al Qaeda have joined forces.
But Rep. James L. Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat and war opponent, said, "If all they have is what they presented today, … I don't think other countries will be persuaded."

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