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Powell: Iraq Hiding Evidence

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the U.N. Security Council. (AP Photo/E.Amendola) U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the U.N. Security Council. (AP Photo/E.Amendola)
A slide is displayed on a screen during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council at the United Nations. (AP Photo) A slide is displayed on a screen during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council at the United Nations. (AP Photo)
An image of a slide displayed on a screen during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council at the United Nations in New York. (AP Photo) An image of a slide displayed on a screen during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council at the United Nations in New York. (AP Photo)
The text of a part of a intercepted phone conversation is displayed on a screen during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council. (AP Photo) The text of a part of a intercepted phone conversation is displayed on a screen during Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council. (AP Photo)

February 5, 2003
Posted at: 9:45 a.m. CST
Updated at: 10:41 a.m. CST

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary of State Colin Powell says that Iraq "never had any intention of complying" with United Nation Security Council Resolution 1441 to disarm.

Powell began his speech before the council with audio tapes of phone intercepts by American intelligence assets that detailed two cases of subordinates asking senior Iraqi military officials for guidance about the possession of items that would have been discovered by approaching U.N. inspectors.

In one phone call, an Iraqi Republican Guard colonel contacted a general to ask about a "modified" vehicle that the colonel had in his possession. The general spoke of "evacuating" material before Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived for an inspection.

The voices on the tape were discussing a modified vehicle one of them had in his possession that was made by an Iraqi company that Powell said was a weapons manufacturer.

"We have this modified vehicle," one of them said as the two discussed a pending visit by a U.N. weapons inspector.

"I'm worried you all have something left," the second voice says.

"We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left," the other replies.

In another call, discussion between an Iraqi headquarters unit and another base took place. In that call "forbidden ammo" was discussed, and the need to keep it hidden.

"Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction," Powell said.

In his presentation, Powell said that Iraq "bulldozed and graded to conceal chemical weapons evidence" at the Al Musayyib chemical complex in 2002, and had a series of cargo vehicles and a decontamination vehicle moving around at the site. Powell said that information had been delevopled by a human source.

Powell cited other human intelligence sources that he said reveils how Iraqis are dispersing rockets armed with biological weapons in western Iraq.  He also presented declassified satellite pictures that he said were 15 munitions bunkers. Powell said four of them had active chemical munitions inside. Powell also told the council that informants within the country claim that Iraq has 18 trucks that it uses as mobile biological weapons labs.

Showing satellite photos, Powell said that two days before the inspections began, trucks arrived at close to 30 missile sites and removed material. He said "we don't know precisely what Iraq was moving."

Powell referred specifically to two photographs, one taken November 10 of a ballistic missile site, and one taken on November 25, showing a caravan at a biological weapons facility.

Those trucks were "something we almost never see at this facility and we monitor it carefully and regularly," Powell said.

As he opened his presentation, Powell reminded the Council that it had voted unanimously last Nov. 8 for a resolution that "gave Iraq one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences."

"No Council member present...had any illusion...what serious consequences meant," he said.

Is discussing Iraq's chemical weapons program, Powell said that "Iraq's record on chemical weapons is replete with lies."

Powell spoke of the admission to UNSCOM of its creation of four tons of VX nerve gas only after documents were obtained of the VX program after the defection of Hussein's now-late son-in-law.

"Saddam Hussein has used these horrific weapons on his country and his own people," Powell said of Iraq's chemical weapons. "No one has more experience in the use of chemical weapons than Saddam Hussein."

"I believe the conclusion is irreparable and undeniable," Powell declared. "Iraq has now put itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in U.N. resolution 1441 and this body places itself in danger of irrelevancy if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately.

He said Saddam has been hiding Iraqi scientists and weapons experts from inspection teams and said a dozen of them are now being held under house arrest "at one of Saddam Hussein's guest houses."

"This is all part of a system of hiding things and moving things out of the way and making sure they have left nothing behind," Powell said.

Powell presented his case in a rapid-fire delivery, moving from tape recordings to photos and other evidence without pause.

He said his case was persuasive that Iraq is hiding its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and missile activity and was deliberately misleading inspectors. "I believe this conclusion is irrefutable and undeniable," he said.

"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.' "

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