- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Wednesday accused Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of deliberately trying to divide the U.N. Security Council "into arguing factions" and said Baghdad was secretly planning to rebuild missiles it has been publicly destroying.

A visibly testy Powell dismissed Saddam's recent destruction of several of its banned al Samoud 2 missiles and his move to hand over new information on anthrax and VX nerve gas as an effort to divide the international community.

"Iraq's too little, too late gestures are meant not just to deceive and delay action by the international community," Powell told an audience at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies. "He has as one of his major goals to divide the international community, to split us into arguing factions."

U.N. inspectors last month declared Iraq's al Samoud 2 missile program illegal, because its range exceeds the 150-kilometer limit the world body imposed after the Gulf War.

But Powell said that even after Saddam had ordered some of them destroyed, Iraq's leader was continuing a program to produce more of them.

"From recent intelligence, we know that the Iraqi regime intends to declare and destroy only a portion of its banned al Samoud inventory, and that it has in fact ordered the continued production of the missiles that you see being destroyed," Powell said. He added that U.S. intelligence has information suggesting that Iraq has hidden machinery it can use to convert other kinds of engines to power the banned missile.

Powell, who travels to the United Nations on Thursday to lobby for a resolution authorizing military force, approached tones of mockery in part of his speech that seemed directed at his French, German and Russian colleagues. Earlier Wednesday, those three countries' foreign ministers declared they would not allow the United Nations to pass such a resolution while inspections still had a chance to work.

Referring to Iraq's first declaration to the United Nations in December when its foreign ministry made the claim that Iraq had already disposed of all its anthrax and VX, Powell said: "Many of my colleagues, unfortunately, in the Security Council don't even want to remember that."

He then launched into an extemporized reconstruction of the sort of remarks he has heard in his intense diplomacy with Security Council members. "Well, it was back in December. Well, you know, we don't have to think about that. Well, you know … let's not worry about that now. Let's not discuss that at our next meeting. Let's just let bygones be bygones. Let's see what we can get him to do today that might make us feel a little better," Powell said.

"It's not going to work," he concluded. "We cannot ignore it."

Powell said the United States had new evidence that Iraq was continuing to hide proscribed weapons, even after being publicly accused of doing so.

"Since my presentation to the Security Council on Feb. 5, we have received further intelligence from multiple sources showing that Iraq is continuing in its efforts to deceive the inspectors," Powell said.

For example, Powell said as recently as late January, Iraq's intelligence services were moving chemical and biological agents to the Turkish and Syrian borders. Iraqi units were moving such proscribed agents every 12 to 24 hours early last month in anticipation of weapons inspections.

He said the Iraqis began a campaign to move some banned materials to working-class neighborhoods outside Baghdad in mid-February in anticipation of allowing U-2 overhead surveillance flights. Indeed, Powell said, he knew that Saddam issued secret orders recently calling on his deputies to do everything they could to continue to conceal weapons.

"If Baghdad really were cooperating, if they really wanted to comply, if it really was disarmament that they were interested in, they would be bringing all these materials out, not scattering them for protection," Powell said.

"Nothing we have seen since the passage of (Resolution) 1441 indicates that Saddam Hussein has taken the strategic and political decision to disarm," he concluded.

Security Council Res. 1441, passed unanimously Nov. 8, allowed the return of arms inspectors to Iraq and warned of "serious consequences" — a diplomatic phrase usually interpreted as a threat of war — if Saddam failed to disarm.

That resolution, Powell said, had given Saddam "one last chance" last November.

The international community, he said, asked Saddam again and again to "disarm, give up these weapons of mass destruction, stop threatening his people" but he paid no heed because he never intended to disarm, Powell said, adding: "For 12 years, Saddam Hussein has been giving the same answer, 'No, I will not.'"

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote next week on a U.S., U.K. and Spanish resolution that would invoke the "serious consequences" clause.

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