U.S. planning to release intelligence on Iraq
Pentagon: Military could be ready for war by mid-February
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration is likely to declassify intelligence as early as next week that it says shows that senior Iraqi officials have been working to conceal weapons and evidence of weapons programs from United Nations weapons inspectors, administration officials said late Monday.
The information includes satellite photographs and "intercepts," according to one of the officials, who declined to be more specific. (Full story)
Word of the impending offer of proof came hours after top U.N. inspectors sought a few more months' "investment in peace," even though their report to the Security Council stated that Baghdad was resisting U.N. efforts to verify its disarmament.
President Bush is expected to lay out his case against Iraq in his State of the Union address Tuesday. He will not call for war but will make it clear that the United States and its allies are prepared for military action, officials said. (Full story)
The Pentagon said Monday that the U.S. military will be ready by mid- to late February to quickly go to war if the president gives the order.
Officials also said that if Iraq were to make an aggressive move before then, the United States could respond instantly, but any action might be limited to strikes by fighters, bombers and cruise missiles.
In an interview Monday, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz promised that Iraq will try to cooperate more with U.N. weapons inspectors -- but said he could not rule out a strike on Kuwait in the event of a U.S.-led military attack. (Full story)
Powell: Not much more time for Iraq to disarm
Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence revealed photographic evidence gathered in recent days that Iraqi forces have moved an increasing number of hand-held surface-to-air missile launchers and anti-aircraft artillery pieces into key locations in and around the capital, Baghdad.
CNN has been told the imagery shows launch sites on civilian buildings and other areas the United States would hesitate to strike. This has been a key Iraqi tactic for years, but it has been stepped up in anticipation of a U.S. strike.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Monday that there was "not much more time" for Iraq to verify that it has complied with a U.N. resolution to disarm.
"The issue is not how much more time the inspectors need to search in the dark, it is how much more time Iraq should be given to turn on the lights and come clean," Powell said. "Iraq's time for choosing peaceful disarmament is fast coming to an end." (Transcript)
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Security Council that Iraq was resisting international efforts to ensure it disarms, but inspectors should have more time to complete their work.
Blix said Iraq has failed to account for a wide range of chemical and biological weapons and missiles. He said there is "strong evidence" that Iraq maintained quantities of anthrax after it claimed to have destroyed its stocks. (Excerpts)
ElBaradei said his inspectors had been unable to verify whether Iraq has an active nuclear weapons program. But he urged Security Council members to let the inspection process "run its natural course."
"Barring exceptional circumstances and provided there is the sustained, proactive cooperation by Iraq, we should be able in the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program," ElBaradei said.
"These few months, in my view, would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid a war." (Transcript)
Iraq denies it has weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi leaders insist the United States is looking for an excuse to launch a war to dominate the region and steal Iraqi oil.
"All the sites that the United States and the Britons alleged in their two recent reports produced weapons of mass destruction were repeatedly inspected, X-rayed, and environmental samples were taken, to make sure that nothing happened there," said Mohammed Aldouri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations. "The result is to prove that Iraq is clear of weapons of mass destruction" at those sites. (Full story)
The Security Council's 15 member nations will hold closed-door discussions on Blix and ElBaradei's report Wednesday and will discuss the next step.
CNN correspondents John King, Barbara Starr and Andrea Koppel contributed to this report.