March 7, 2003
Posted at: 11:25 a.m. CST
UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary of State Colin Powell says the latest report from U.N. weapons inspectors is a ''catalog of non-cooperation'' by Iraq.
Powell says any cooperation that is coming from Iraq is coming in a ''grudging manner'' -- and is the result of the threat of military force.
Powell told the Security Council that Iraq is still refusing to offer the ''immediate,'' ''active'' and ''unconditional'' cooperation that was demanded by the U.N.
Powell says it's clear that Iraq's government has not made the decision to disarm.
He told Security Council members they must tell Saddam they ''have not been taken in'' by his ''transparent tactics.''
Powell says the clock ''continues to tick'' and that the consequences of Iraqi non-compliance must be ''very, very real.'' He said a resolution authorizing force against Iraq should come before the council in the ''very near future.''
In a key report before the U.N. Security Council, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Friday said Iraq's destruction of its Al Samoud 2 missiles constitutes a "substantial measure of disarmament." His counterpart, nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei, made his strongest statement yet in support of Iraqi cooperation.
Blix noted that Iraq is now providing inspectors with pro-active cooperation, something he had asked for repeatedly through the winter.
"The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament," Blix said. "We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed."
But Blix didn't declare Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction.
ElBaradei also took a swipe at U.S. intelligence, saying his analysis now definitively showed that suspect aluminum tubes were not destined for equipment that could be used to refine uranium for nuclear weapons use.
"Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets," ElBaradei said.
Blix noted that Iraq is now providing inspectors with proactive cooperation, something he had asked for repeatedly through the winter.
But said that even with continued cooperation from Iraq, it will take some time to ensure that Iraq has carried out key remaining disarmament tasks which he intends to present to the Security Council later this month.
"It will not take years, nor weeks, but months," he said, stressing that even after this is completed, Iraq should be subject to ongoing inspections and monitoring of its facilities.
The chief inspector, whose teams are responsible for the hunt for biological, chemical and missile programs, said Iraq had recently provided additional documentation on anthrax and the VX nerve agent.
"Many have been found to restate what Iraq has already declared."
Blix didn't declare Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction.
And in a veiled jab at the United States, he said inspectors had been unable to verify some claims about hidden Iraqi weapons and he asked again for more information about suspect sites.
CIA Director George Tenet has said all relevant information had been passed along already.
ElBaradei told the council that the IAEA found no evidence to support reports that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.
"Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that documents which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic," he said. "We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded."
"In the past three weeks, possibly as a result of ever-increasing pressure by the international community, Iraq has been forthcoming in its cooperation," ElBaradei said. "I do hope that Iraq will continue to expand the scope and accelerate the pace of its cooperation."
He reported again that in the area of nuclear weapons, inspections were moving forward.
"After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq."