Inspections report appears to do little to change minds
Powell: 'The threat of force must remain'
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U. S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the latest U.N. weapons inspection report -- which gave a mixed review of Iraqi disarmament -- does not alter the U.S. belief that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is defying the international community and hiding weapons of mass destruction.
Powell said the use of force against Iraq "must be a resort" considered by U.N. members.
"What we need is not more inspections, what we need is not more immediate access," Powell told the Security Council. "What we need is immediate, active, unconditional, full cooperation on the part of Iraq. What we need is for Iraq to disarm."
There was no evidence to suggest that the latest U.N. report had swayed any minds. Those nations that support more inspections repeated their calls for them after the presentation, and those nations that say Saddam is not cooperating said more inspection would be futile.
Connections between Iraq and terrorist organizations "are emerging" and the United States can provide more evidence that they exist, Powell said.
The secretary of state spoke after a presentation by Hans Blix, executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and Mohammed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Using strong and blunt language, Powell discounted some of the progress cited in the inspection report, dismissing it as "process."
"The threat of force must remain ... We cannot allow this process to be endlessly strung out as Iraq is doing right now," Powell said, adding that "serious consequences" must now be considered against Iraq.
But nations opposed to the Bush administration's call to disarm Iraq by military force seemed unmoved Friday and said the latest report suggested there was progress.
Foreign ministers for China, France and Russia, which want more weapons inspections, said after the presentation that the latest report did not justify a move toward war.
"No one today can claim the path of war will be shorter than the path of inspections," said Dominque de Villepin, the French foreign minister. "No one can claim that it would lead to a safer, more just, more stable world -- for war is always the sanction of failure."
Villepin called for a meeting on March 14 to hear further progress reports from the inspectors.
"Let us give the United Nations the time they need to complete their work," he said, adding that there is no need for a second resolution on the Iraqi issue
Tang Jiaxuan, the Chinese foreign minister, said the inspections have "achieved some positive results' and asserted that "a great deal of work needs to be done" by the inspections. "We are obliged to try our best and use all possible means to avert war," he said.
Nations that support the Bush administration's policies reiterated their belief that the time had arrived to take more concrete steps against Iraq.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said Saddam Hussein will only carry out a "dramatic and immediate" change "if we ... hold our nerve ... and make sure Iraq will face the serious consequences" agreed upon last fall when the U.N. passed its disarmament resolution.
For its part, Iraq asserted the report pointed to cooperation on its part and accused the United States of "imperialist ambitions."
"The outlaw here is America, not Iraq," said Tariq Aziz, deputy prime minister in Rome, where he met with Pope John Paul II.
In Baghdad, an Iraqi parliament member said the progress report by the two chief weapons inspectors shows that Iraq is in full compliance with weapons inspectors and indicates "inspectors need more time to fulfill their task."
"The two reports show that Iraq has complied with the Resolution 1441 and Iraq hasn't got any weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it shows that Colin Powell's claims in front of the Security Council are baseless," said Mohammed Al-Adhami, a member of the Iraqi parliament.
In Washington, President Bush did not speak directly about the U.N. report, but he repeated his vow to disarm Saddam during a speech at FBI headquarters.
"When I speak about the war on terror, I not only talk about al Qaeda, I talk about Iraq, because after all, Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction, and he's used them," Bush said. "Saddam Hussein is used to deceiving the world, and he continues to do so. Saddam Hussein has got ties to terrorist networks. Saddam Hussein is a danger. And that's why he will be disarmed, one way or the other."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said there was no reason to expect more weapons inspections would result in success in the effort to disarm Iraq.
"It has taken more than 12 years for Saddam Hussein to disarm," Fleischer said. "There is no question if force is used, it will achieve the objective of preserving the peace far faster than the current path we are on," Fleischer told reporters.
In an interview with CNN, Powell declined to say whether the administration would pursue a second U.N. resolution on Iraq, stating he wanted to talk to the president first. But he noted that a second resolution "would provide political support" for some nations.
Powell said "there's still a chance for peace," but stressed the need to maintain pressure on Iraq and "take this to conflict, if necessary, to disarm Iraq."