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Powell: U.S. prepared to act alone

Key week looms in U.S.-Iraq crisis

Powell: "We're talking about the most deadly things one can imagine"

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
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Monday: Chief U.N. weapons inspectors deliver a report on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council

Tuesday: President Bush talks about Iraq during his State of the Union address to Congress.

Wednesday: The U.N. Security Council will hold consultations on Iraq.

Friday: British Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit Camp David, Maryland, for talks with Bush.

DAVOS, Switzerland (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told European doubters on Sunday the United States was willing to attack Iraq alone.

"Multilateralism cannot become an excuse for inaction," he told world and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos.

In a 30-minute address that broke no new ground but attempted to enlist world support for U.S. military action against Iraq, Powell rejected criticism from delegates that the United States has not provided enough evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein retains weapons of mass destruction.

Citing the U.S. history of defending Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait, Powell said the world knows the United States can not only be trusted to consult with its allies, but it can be "trusted to use its enormous political, economic and -- above all -- military power wisely and fairly."

Asked about the U.S. focus on the "hard power" of military force rather than the "soft power" represented by such common values as democracy, free economies and human rights, Powell said the United States "believes strongly" in the latter, but added, "There comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work."

Later Jordan's King Abdullah told the Davos Forum he thought it would take a miracle to find a diplomatic solution to avert U.S.-led action against Iraq.

"Unfortunately I believe that we're now a bit too little, too late to see a way out, a diplomatic solution between Iraq and the international community," the king told world leaders.

"Today I think the mechanisms are in place. I think it would be very difficult, it would take a miracle to find a dialogue and a peaceful solution out of the crisis."

Powell reflected on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the Bush administration's realization that the country would have to go to war to defeat terrorists and states amassing weapons of mass destruction.

He said those lessons applied to Iraq.

"We knew there would be days when our anxieties would well up and we would be afraid to take the next step, and we are approaching one such moment now -- we'll have to take that next step," he said.

"The more we wait, the more chance there is for this dictator with clear ties to terrorist groups -- including al Qaeda -- to pass a weapon, share a technology or use these weapons again," he said.

"The nexus of tyrants and terror, of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, is the greatest danger of our age."

The United States has offered no proof that Iraq has ties to al Qaeda.

Powell reiterated that granting more time for U.N. inspectors to search Iraq for weapons of mass destruction would not prove fruitful without the cooperation of the Iraqi leader. He added: "there is no indication whatsoever that Iraq has made the strategic decision to come clean and comply with its international obligation to disarm."

Powell stressed that Iraq had "utterly failed" to comply with the U.N. resolution calling for Baghdad to cooperate with weapons inspectors.

"If Iraq does not disarm peacefully at this juncture it will be disarmed," he noted.

Referring to the U.N. Security Council's unanimous vote last year for Resolution 1441, Powell said Hussein's "naked defiance also challenges the relevance and credibility of the council," and added that members "assumed a heavy responsibility to put their will behind its words."

"Multilateralism cannot become an excuse for inaction," he said.

In an apparent allusion to critics who accuse the United States of wanting to attack Iraq in order to seize control of its extensive oil reserves, Powell said the United States is not interested in "any special benefits" if it takes military action against Baghdad.

"We seek nothing for ourselves other than to bring security" to the region, Powell said.

Meanwhile Sunday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told British television that inspectors in Iraq must be "given time to do the job" but if they were unable to complete their task then Saddam must be disarmed by force.

His comments came as the White House faced mounting international pressure to grant inspectors more time to complete their task -- even after they submit their report. (European opposition)

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are scheduled to deliver the report on the progress of Iraq's U.N.-mandated compliance with Resolution 1441 on Monday.

The resolution orders Baghdad to disclose all weapons of mass destruction and related materials. U.N. inspectors have been searching for evidence of such weapons since November.

The IAEA said on Sunday that it had yet to find any proof of Iraq's alleged secret nuclear weapons programme and would be informing the Security Council of this in Monday's update report. (Full story)

Iraq maintains it is complying with U.N. resolutions and that it has no weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration says it is convinced that Iraq possesses such weapons.

Bush speech to focus on war preparations

The Bush administration was preparing during the weekend for what is expected to be a crucial week full of developments related to the possibility of an Iraqi war.

President Bush gives his annual State of the Union address Tuesday, the day after the U.N. report is due. It was during his 2002 address that Bush included Iraq in his so-called "axis of evil" triumvirate of nations that he says pose a potential threat to the United States.

A senior White House official said the president will not use the speech to ask Congress to declare war. Rather, he will use the event as an opportunity to educate the public about the nature of the threat Iraq poses and to tell Americans the prospect for war is "very real." (Full story)

As war preparations continue, an international group of peace activists boarded three British double-decker buses and a taxi Saturday to begin their journey to Iraq in hopes that their presence in that country would prevent bombing by the United States and its allies. (Full story)

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