Iraq Concealing, Not Revealing, Powell Says

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

( - The Bush administration made its case for an attack on Iraq Wednesday, when Secretary of State Colin Powell offered evidence -- including photographs, telephone transcripts and reports from intelligence sources -- that Iraq is not complying with U.N. mandates to disclose and destroy its weapons of mass destruction.

On the contrary, Powell said, "What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior...that demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort - no effort - to disarm as required by the international community.

"Indeed," Powell continued, "the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction...."

Even before Powell spoke Wednesday morning, Iraq's state media criticized Powell's address: "What Powell is going to present will be cheap satellite pictures and vague recorded conversations," the government newspaper al-Jumhouriya was quoted as saying.

Powell - both criticized and applauded for his early efforts to line up United Nations support for an Iraq invasion - reminded the world that the burden is on Iraq to prove that it has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.

"Inspectors are inspectors, they are not detectives," Powell said. They can't inspect the homes of every scientist and government official in Iraq to find the information and computer hard drives that Iraq is hiding, he added.

"Saddam Hussein and his regime are not just trying to conceal weapons. They're also trying to hide people," Powell said.

Powell assured the U.N. that every statement he makes is backed up by "solid sources and solid intelligence."

The information Powell presented comes from a variety of sources, he said. Some are U.S. sources, and some are from sources in other countries. "Some are intercepted telephone conversations; others come from people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is up to.

"I cannot tell you everything I know, but what I can share with deeply troubling," Powell said.

From our sources we know that inspectors are under constant surveillance by an army of Iraqi intelligence operatives," Powell said. "Iraq is relentlessly attempting to tap all of their communications, both voice and electronics."

Powell showed photographs of truck convoys doing "housecleaning" at a site that weapons inspectors knew about and intended to visit. He played an intercepted telephone conversation in which an Iraqi official expressed dismay about a "modified vehicle" that had not been "evacuated" along with other incriminating items.

The list of examples of Iraq's noncompliance and uncooperation "goes on and on and on," Powell told the U.N. "What we see is a deliberate campaign to prevent any meaningful inspection work."

Iraq has failed the test set forth in U.N. resolution 1441, Powell said. Based on the requirements of that resolution, Powell said, "I believe that Iraq is in further material breach of its obligations. I believe this conclusion is irrefutable and undeniable. Iraq has placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in U.N. Resolution 1441.

"And this body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately.

"The issue before us is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction, but how much longer are we willing to put up with Iraq's noncompliance before we as a Council - we as the United Nations - say, 'Enough! Enough!'"

"The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world," Powell said, as he launched into a rundown of Iraq's biological weapons program.

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has bio weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more - many more - and he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction."

Chemical weapons are equally chilling, Powell said. "Saddam has used them before, on another country and on his own people," he commented.

As with biological weapons, Saddam Hussein has never accounted for his chemical stockpiles, Powell added. We have evidence his chemical weapons existed; but we don't have evidence they've been destroyed, he said.

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent," Powell told the U.N. "That is enough agent to build 16,000 battlefield rockets. Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass causalities across more than 100 square miles of territory -- an area nearly five times the size of Manhattan."

"Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein has used such weapons. And Saddam Hussein has no compunction about using them again - against his neighbors and against his own people. And we have sources who tell us he recently authorized his field commanders to use them. He wouldn't be passing out the orders if he didn't have the weapons - or the intent to use them," Powell said.

It's the same thing with nuclear weapons, Powell said. "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program. On the contrary, we have more than a decade of proof that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons."

Powell also offered a lengthy description of Iraq's ties to terrorists, including Hamas and al Qaeda.

"Terrorism has been a tool used by Saddam for decades," Powell said. "Saddam was a supporter of terrorism long before these terrorist networks [al Qaeda, Hamas, etc.] had a name. And this support continues. The nexus of poisons and terror is new. The nexus of Iraq and terror is old. The combination is lethal."

Powell said Iraq is putting itself in "deeper material breach" by foregoing "its one last opportunity to come clean and disarm."

Powell concluded, Iraq is "closer to the day when it will face serious consequences for its continued defiance of this council."

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plan to visit Baghdad over the weekend, then report to the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 14. Some speculate that the Feb. 14 report will be the final word from arms inspectors before the war begins.

Read Powell's Remarks to UN