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.

 

UN Security Council calls for Polisario pullback from Guerguerat

UK warns of ‘increased level of terrorist activity’

Merkel warns EU-Turkey ties 'severely hit' by Ankara developments

Pope Francis flies to Egypt as 'pilgrim of peace'

420 tonnes of plastic bags seized in year in Morocco since ban

President of European rights group censured for Assad meeting

Palestinians protest to support prisoners on hunger strike

Turkish army, Syrian Kurdish militia in new clashes

Erdogan to rejoin Turkey ruling party next week

Germany urges EU not to break off Turkey accession talks

OPCW says chemical weapons allegedly used 45 times in Syria

Netanyahu slams German foreign minster as 'insensitive'

Erdogan hopes for 'new page' with US under Trump

UN envoy to Libya to visit Sudan for peace talks

Tunisian PM booed out of town hall meet

Russian spy ship sinks off Turkish coast

London police arrest ‘terror act’ knifeman by parliament

Palestinians strike in support of protesting prisoners

Two Saudi soldiers killed in rocket attack near Yemen border

German soldier plots attack under refugee disguise

Iraq forces retake town of Hatra from IS

Syria accuses Israel of strike near Damascus airport

10 dead after strikes on rebel-held hospitals in Syria

Turkey’s AKP to hold special congress readmitting Erdogan

EU reviews Libya request for naval equipment

Jail terms over death of Moroccan fishmonger

UN appoints Syrian Olympic swimmer as ambassador

Bahraini activist on hunger strike behind bars

Calls on Saudi social media for jobless protest

Tunisian coastguards no match for high-speed smugglers

US wants 'strong, democratic' Turkey: ambassador

Israeli tank trades shots with Hamas in Gaza

Syria says France 'hiding truth' about chemical attack

NATO chief warns Turkey to respect ‘rule of law’

Exiled Turkish journalist urges EU to confront Erdogan

Mass funeral for dozens slain in Syria bus attack

Qatar insists Baghdad had ‘full knowledge’ of hostage deal

UN eyes new Yemen peace talks

Erdogan resumes Gulen arrests after referendum win

Turkey opposition heads to European court to challenge referendum

Turkey says informed US, Russia prior to Kurdish strikes

Iraqi forces liberate ancient city of Hatra from IS

Saudi fire stops explosives-laden boat from Yemen

50 Syria migrants stranded on Morocco-Algeria border

Libya asks EU for patrol boats to stem migrant wave