First Published: 2003-06-02

 
Powell defends Iraq's WMD allegations
 

US Secretary of State says Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were not figment of anyone's imagination.

 

Middle East Online

There's no debate. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: Powell

ROME - US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday again voiced absolute certainty that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that the regime of ousted President Saddam Hussein had continued to develop them in the period leading up to the US-led war.

"There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It wasn't a figment of anyone's imagination," he told a news conference in Rome.

"That Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, there was no doubt in my mind as I went through the intelligence... The evidence was overwhelming that they had continued to develop these programmes," he added.

The US and its Iraq allies have been pushed onto the back foot in recent days over allegations that they exaggerated and embellished intelligence reports of Saddam's suspected weapons programme in order to justify their invasion of the oil-rich country.

"There's no debate. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," Powell said. recalling that weapons of this type were use in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

On February 5 Powell told the United Nations Security Council that Saddam's regime was doing everything to hide its weapons of mass destruction from the world.

But on Saturday Britain's Guardian newspaper alleged that Powell attended a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on the eve of his speech to the UN at which both men privately expressed doubts over public claims about Iraq's suspected illegal weapons.

The British Foreign Office immediately denied the report.

Powell referred on Monday to the resolution the UN adopted in November 2002, which said Iraq had not fully respected its international obligations to accept the destruction of any chemical and biological weapons and any ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres.

"In the fall of 2002, in resolution 1441, every member of the UN Security Council, all 15, unanimously agreed to the resolution that started out with the proposition that Iraq was in material breach of its obligations," Powell said.

"Iraq convicted itself. Iraq did not provide the answers demanded by the international community," he added.

Referring to the period following the withdrawal of UN inspectors from Iraq in 1998, Powell said: "Iraq simply ignored the demands of the international community to allow the inspectors back in."

Seven weeks after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, no concrete proof has emerged to back up US and British claims Iraq was developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons which served as a justification for the US-led invasion.

Powell's latest comments came during a visit to Italy as part of a US drive to build support for a new Middle East peace initiative and the reconstruction of post-war Iraq.

 

Arab army chiefs to discuss dream of joint military force

Thousands of Yemen troops side with President Hadi

‘Islamic State’ claims executions of Ethiopia Christians in Libya

Khamenei urges Iran military to increase ' defensive preparedness'

Crisis of unemployment: Over 30% of Arab youth jobless

Libya peace talks 'very close' to final accord

Large wave of displacement as violence rages on in Anbar

Egypt sentences 11 football fans to death in retrial after 2012 riot

Tunisia prevents departure of more than 12,000 would-be jihadists

Unidentified gunman opens fire on pro-Kurdish party office in Turkey

Iraq PM's spokesman resigns over pro-Saddam song

Israel pledges to transfer frozen taxes to Palestinian Authority

'Differences' emerge in Libya peace talks

Saudi Arabia vows to cover UN aid appeal for Yemen

Iraqi forces kill Hussein deputy in Salahuddin province

Iraq massacre site turns into memorial

Israeli coalition talks approaching deadline

Turkish PM condemns EU resolution on Armenian genocide

Tehran calls for immediate Yemen peace talks

Assad accuses Turkey of torpedoing UN Aleppo truce plan

New round of Libya rival talks in Morocco

EU urged to label Israeli West bank products

General Dempsey: Military option on Iran 'intact'

UN chief calls for immediate Yemen ceasefire

Abadi to Iran: We welcome your help as long as you respect Iraq sovereignty

Anger in Indonesia as Saudi Arabia executes second woman

France jihadist attacks fuel unprecedented rise in Islamophobia

Turkey mine chief: ‘I am not a murderer’

France sees progress in Rafale jet negotiations with UAE

Lebanese TV contempt trial opens at slain Hariri tribunal

Fresh round of Iran nuclear talks April 22-23 in Vienna

Yemen calls on renegade army units to drop support for Huthis

UN envoy condemns Libya air strike as 'unacceptable'

African migrants’ hope of reaching Europe dashed

Armenian senior advisor to Turkish PM retires

Egypt to demolish ousted Mubarak’s party HQ

Slow turnout in Sudan polls

UN peace envoy to Yemen quits

Reconquest of all of Anbar remains out of reach for now

Iran holds Obama 'accountable' for fate of nuclear agreement

Arab coalition mulls large-scale manoeuvre in preparation for ‘ground assault’

Libya appeals for Russia support over arms embargo

Turkey vows to brush off any EU genocide decision

Bashir heads toward widely expected victory with ‘empty ballot boxes’

Rebels in southern Syria reject all forms of cooperation with Qaeda affiliate