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.

 

Yemen rebels warn Saleh will bear consequences

Iraqi forces advance against IS in Tal Afar

US, Gulf officials hold talks on Mideast peace

Taliban warns Afghanistan will become 'graveyard' for US

Stranded migrants feel unwelcome in hostile Bulgaria

Former Libyan PM freed after nine-day kidnapping

Palestinians demand two-state pledge from Trump

What is behind the Syrian regime’s push south-west of Raqqa?

Egypt puts hope in leather exports

Saudi Arabia, Iran to exchange diplomatic visits

IAEA chief briefs US's Haley on Iran deal

11 killed in attack on Libya checkpoint

Turkey says German FM copying ‘racists, far right’

French satire magazine publishes provocative Islam cartoon

Air raid on Yemen capital kills dozens of civilians

After Barcelona, ISIS-inspired threats in Europe continue

Netanyahu tells Putin that Iran’s growing Syria role is threat to Israel

Israel to strip accused Muslims of citizenship

Cairo warns against US decision to withhold aid

Iranian opposition leaders ‘protected’ by house arrest

Turkish FM to tell Iraqi Kurds to cancel independence vote

Qatar approves law for protecting domestic workers

Pentagon chief arrives in Turkey for talks on Syria, Kurds

Two arrested in Morocco over suspected links to Barcelona attackers

Iraqi forces retake three districts of IS-held Tal Afar

Lebanon army says in final stage of IS border battle

Spanish town Ripoll reels from discovery of it’s young jihadists

Jordan opens first job centre in Syrian refugee camp

Outrage in Morocco over sexual assault video

Former Libyan premiere Ali Zeidan still held by kidnappers

Syria opposition talks in Riyadh end with no breakthrough

Erdogan vows to prevent Kurdish ‘terror corridor’ in Syria

Iraqi troops recapture first two districts from IS bastion

UN says thousands fleeing Tel Afar amid anti-IS offensive

Second round of Kurdish referendum talks could happen next week

Dozens killed in coalition strikes as US-backed forces advance in Raqa

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal

Two North Korean shipments to Syrian chemical weapons program intercepted

German foreign minister says Erdogan backers threatened his wife

Turkey arrests former national goalkeeper for ‘coup links’

Iran in negotiations to unblock Twitter

Yemeni FM says Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen

On the trail of Spain's attackers

Mattis in Baghdad to support Iraqi forces

UN urges Iraq to do more for IS sex abuse victims