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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 10:15 GMT
US fails to sway doubters
France's Dominique de Villepin
France says inspections should be tripled
There has been a mixed response to US Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council spelling out what he says is clear evidence Iraq is failing to disarm.

If Iraqi non-cooperation continues, this council must meet its responsibilities

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
The UK's foreign secretary gave strong backing to the Washington line, but the other three key Council members - China, France and Russia, all said the inspectors should be given more time.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the international community had sent a clear message to Iraq, and it should listen carefully.

But Baghdad rejected Mr Powell's allegations, saying the goal was to sell the idea of war against Iraq, and said it would issue a detailed response later on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is to hold talks with the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, who is on his way back to Baghdad.

France has reinforced its first response with a radio interview by the foreign minister Dominique de Villepin.

He said it was too early to discuss a new UN resolution opening the way for an American-led attack.

'Not an option'

Mr Powell warned a special session of the Security Council against any further delay in tackling what he called Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear arms ambitions.

Current Security Council
UN Security Council
For military action: United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Bulgaria
Sceptics or opposed: France, Russia, China, Germany and Syria
In doubt: Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan
Nine votes and no veto required to pass a resolution

"Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option," said Mr Powell

"This body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately," said Mr Powell.

As Mr Powell presented his case to the UN, the Pentagon revealed that there are now more than 110,000 US troops in the Gulf.

But the BBC's Justin Webb says Mr Powell is reported to be content to let the diplomatic process rest until Mr Blix reports back to the Security Council next week.

The Bush administration is claiming that some Council members expressed more support privately than they did in public, our correspondent says.

Delay warning

France, which has a veto in the Security Council, said that the work of the weapons inspectors had not yet run its course, and their numbers should be tripled if necessary.

Clearly, Saddam will stop at nothing until something stops him

Colin Powell
"For now we must reinforce the inspection regime. The use of force can only be a final resort," Mr de Villepin said.

In its first reaction to the presentation, Baghdad issued a blanket denial.

Adviser to President Saddam Hussein, Amer al-Saadi, said intercepts of alleged conversations between Iraqi officials cited by Mr Powell were "manufactured".

General al-Saadi dismissed other items contained in the US dossier, and said his government would issue a fuller rebuttal on Thursday.

In his presentation to the Security Council Mr Powell said that Iraq:

  • Conspired to dupe inspectors - Mr Powell played intercepted communications allegedly between Iraqi military discussing how to block the work of UN weapons inspectors.

  • Removed evidence - Mr Powell showed satellite images, which he said showed evidence being taken from key sites.

  • Failed to account for materials - Mr Powell said Baghdad had not revealed the whereabouts of materials turned up in previous inspections.

    Satellite photograph of Iraq
    Powell presented satellite images of Iraqi facilities

  • Possessed mobile weapons facilities - Mr Powell said Iraq had at least seven mobile factories for producing biological agents.

  • Blocked interviews - Saddam Hussein allegedly told scientists to refuse to be interviewed outside Iraq, in contravention of the UN resolution, and threatened them if they co-operated.

  • Had terrorist links - Mr Powell said members of a group headed by an al-Qaeda associate, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have been operating freely in Baghdad.

  • Had nuclear programme - Mr Powell said that Iraq was continuing efforts to produce a nuclear arsenal.

The BBC's Ian Pannell
"Colin Powell made a tough multi media sales pitch"
Kim Ghattas reports from Baghdad:
"We are expecting more of the same denials"
UK Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram:
"The weight of the evidence is very impressive"
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Full statement on Iraq point by point
Are you convinced by Powell's evidence?



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See also:

06 Feb 03 | Politics
06 Feb 03 | Middle East
05 Feb 03 | Americas
05 Feb 03 | Americas
05 Feb 03 | Middle East
05 Feb 03 | Middle East
04 Feb 03 | Middle East
04 Feb 03 | Middle East
05 Feb 03 | Middle East
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