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Powell expects ' a persuasive case' against Iraq

U.S. will prove Iraq breaking U.N. resolution, he says

Colin Powell

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Iraq's director of monitoring claims the empty chemical warheads are leftover from 1996 U.N. inspections. CNN's Rym Brahimi reports. (January 16)
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Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Iraq must be proactive and produce evidence that it is no longer producing weapons of mass destruction. (January 16)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday that the United States believes it will have "a persuasive case" by the end of the month that Iraq is in breach of a key U.N. resolution governing disarmament.

"We believe ... based on what we have seen so far, that Iraq is failing to meet the mandate of [U.N. Security Council Resolution] 1441. Iraq has failed to cooperate. It has failed to put forward a believable declaration, as required," Powell said to a group of foreign journalists.

"It is not making people available. It is not making documents available. It is deceiving the inspectors. It is trying to make it harder for the inspectors to do their work."

Powell said the United States will provide more evidence of Iraqi offenses, which, along with the update that chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is to give the U.N. Security Council on January 27, will make it clear that Iraq has hindered the work of inspectors.

Powell said the United Nations risks its credibility if it ignores the consequences of the resolution, which called on Iraq to disarm.

"We cannot get ourselves into a situation where the council just in the presence of this kind of non-co-operation, just wants to not do anything and let it continue forever," Powell said.

President Bush has threatened military action against Iraq if it refuses to abide by United Nations resolutions calling for it to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction. Baghdad has repeatedly denied possessing such chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

Meanwhile, the White House said Bush found it "troubling and serious" that United Nations inspectors found 11 empty chemical warheads inside Iraq.

"It is prohibited for Iraq to possess chemical warheads," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

"The president views this as troubling and serious," Fleischer told reporters a day after the discovery. Noting that a senior Iraqi official said Iraq had forgotten it had the warheads, Fleischer said the United States wondered "what other mental lapses they are having."

Fleischer said the warheads were not declared in Iraq's report to the United Nations, which Baghdad has insisted is a full and accurate accounting of its weapons programs. (Full story)

Dimitri Perricos -- the leader of the U.N. inspection team in Baghdad -- said the discovery of chemical warheads "may not be a smoking gun" that would indicate Iraq had violated resolutions.

In Baghdad, weapons inspectors were checking Friday on whether the warheads found Thursday were mentioned in last month's 12,000-page Iraqi declaration to the United Nations.

Tests were under way to see how recently -- if at all -- any of the warheads had been loaded with deadly chemicals. Spokesman Hiro Ueki said inspectors destroyed similar warheads in the 1990s.

A team of U.N. arms inspectors found the 11 warheads at an ammunition storage area south of Baghdad. A 12th warhead is being evaluated, and all have been described as being in "excellent condition." (Full story)

A chemical team and a biological team also fanned out Friday to inspect sites to the northwest and southwest of Baghdad.

Iraq played down the discovery of the warheads, saying the items did not constitute weapons of mass destruction and that they were "forgotten" materials.

Earlier Friday, in a televised speech marking the 12th anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War, President Saddam Hussein vowed that his nation "would rise up" against its aggressors.

"We have determined and planned to defeat the aggressors. We have mobilized our abilities, including those of the army, people and leadership," he said.

"Baghdad, its people and leadership, is determined to force the Mongols of our age to commit suicide at its gates," Saddam said, referring to the Mongol armies that sacked the Iraqi capital in 1258. (Full story)

In Paris -- while meeting with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- French President Jacques Chirac suggested giving inspectors additional time to search for possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (Full story)

Also Friday, U.S. warplanes dropped bombs on Iraqi air defense sites at two locations south of Baghdad, in what the Pentagon says were defensive strikes, according to a statement from the U.S. Central Command.

The strikes took place around two cable repeater sites, which are part of the Iraqi military's air defense command and control system at sites located near An Nasiriyah, approximately 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, and Al Kut, approximately 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, the statement said. There was no immediate comment from Iraq.

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