Powell: Some Iraq testimony not 'solid'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said his pre-war testimony to the U.N. Security Council about Iraq's alleged mobile, biological weapons labs was based on information that appears not to be "solid."
Powell's speech before the Security Council on February, 5, 2003 --detailing possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- was a major event in the Bush administration's effort to justify a war and win international support.
Powell said Friday his testimony about Iraq and mobile biological weapons labs was based on the best intelligence available, but "now it appears not to be the case that it was that solid," Powell said.
The following are the key points of Powell's February 5 testimony to the U.N. Security Council:Recorded conversations: Powell played what he said was a tape of a colonel and brigadier general of Iraq's elite Republican Guard discussing hiding a vehicle before U.N. inspectors arrived to search a site.
Powell said the conversation indicated the Iraqi officials knew inspectors were coming and what they would be looking for. One official is heard to say: "We have this modified vehicle. What do we say if one of them sees it?" The other official says: "I'll come to see you in the morning. I'm worried. You all have something left."
The other official then says: "We evacuated everything. We don't have anything left."
Powell said this indicates the Iraqis hid or destroyed banned materials. He said the vehicle came from a company "well known to have been involved in prohibited weapons systems activity."Satellite images of "active chemical munitions bunkers": Powell then showed satellite photos that he said indicated the presence of "active chemical munitions bunkers" disguised from inspectors.
The first photo showed was from a weapons munitions facility, which Powell said was one of 65 such facilities in Iraq. He said the photo contained "sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions," including a decontamination truck and special security.
Powell showed later photos from the same facility that he said showed the bunkers had been "sanitized" before U.N. inspectors arrived. He also showed satellite photos he said indicated that earth was moved and graded to hide evidence at a chemical production site called Al-Musayyib.Scientists banned from interviews: Powell said Saddam had personally barred Iraqi scientists from participating in interviews with U.N. inspectors and forced them "to sign documents acknowledging that divulging information is punishable by death."
"The regime only allows interviews with inspectors in the presence of an Iraqi official, a minder," Powell said.
"The official Iraqi organization charged with facilitating inspections announced, announced publicly and announced ominously that, 'Nobody is ready to leave Iraq to be interviewed.' "
He said this was a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, which requires Iraq to abandon its alleged weapons of mass destruction programs and disarm.Mobile biological weapons labs: Calling the discovery "most worrisome," Powell said U.S. intelligence indicated Iraq had production facilities for biological weapons "on wheels and on rails."
"The trucks and train cars are easily moved and are designed to evade detection by inspectors," Powell said. "In a matter of months, they can produce a quantity of biological poison equal to the entire amount that Iraq claimed to have produced in the years prior to the Gulf War."
Powell said the evidence included firsthand accounts from four sources -- among them, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of the facilities and an Iraqi civil engineer "in a position to know the details of the program."Nerve gas unaccounted for: Powell said Iraq failed to account for its stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons, including four tons of the nerve gas VX. He said a single drop of VX can kill a human being.
"We have evidence these weapons existed," Powell said. "What we don't have is evidence from Iraq that they have been destroyed or where they are."
He said Iraq denied it had ever weaponized VX, and that U.N. inspectors had presented information on January 27, 2003 that conflicts with the Iraqi account of its VX program.Nuclear efforts continue: "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program," Powell told the council. "On the contrary, we have more than a decade of proof that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons."
Powell said Iraq had continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons and missiles capable of striking targets at a distance of up to 1,200 kilometers (745 miles).
He said Saddam has "a cadre of nuclear scientists with the expertise, and he has a bomb design," but lacks the fissile material needed for a nuclear explosion.
Powell said that in an effort to develop fissile material, Saddam "has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high-specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed."
Powell said Iraq had "no business" obtaining such tubes, even if they were for use in conventional rocket programs as Iraq and some experts have claimed.Links to terrorism: Powell asserted that Iraq has had high-level, long-standing contacts with the al Qaeda terrorist network. He said al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan have found safe haven in northern Iraq and al Qaeda associates are operating in Baghdad.
Powell also said an al Qaeda fugitive linked to the October killing of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan has found "safe haven" in Iraq and has plotted attacks in Europe.