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.


Corbyn criticised over Syria air strike rejection

Turkey protests against journalist arrests

Turkey seeks to ease tensions with Moscow

Tunisia to rethink anti-IS strategy

Saudi women begin first-ever election campaign

Russia prepares retaliation against Turkey

Cameron pushes for Britain to join Syria air strikes

Erdogan denies buying oil from IS

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Tunisia under state of emergency

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey

Tunisia group claims beheading of young shepherd on behalf of ISIS

Kerry arrives in Abu Dhabi for Syria discussions

Three Palestinians killed as fresh violence hits West Bank

Iran arrests ISIS-linked cell near Iraq border

Brussels remains on high alert for second day in a row

Israel seeks to strip citizenship of those who join ISIS

France warns Libya as ISIS gains ground

Fear escalates as ISIS edges closer to Syria Christian town

Iran sentences reporter Jason Rezaian to prison