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Powell Confident on Backing

Secretary says he believes U.S. will have U.N. support in pressing Baghdad to disarm.

November 08, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Thursday that a showdown with Saddam Hussein on hidden chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear program could be months away as inspections determine whether Iraq is disarming.

In an interview, Powell expressed confidence that the United Nations would support U.S. pressure on Iraq. He said the pace of searching for weapons would be set by the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and Mohammed Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Declining to predict whether the Iraqi president would cooperate, Powell said, "I gave up years ago speculating what Hussein may or may not do."

A joint U.S.-British resolution is before the U.N. Security Council, which has tried unsuccessfully for more than 10 years to compel Hussein to open his hiding places, reveal his suspected illegal arsenal and destroy the weapons, as required after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"If they don't intend to cooperate, I think that will become obvious rather soon, and the U.N. will have to make its judgment as to whether they want to participate in a charade with the Iraqi government or whether they want immediately to convene to see if something else should be done," Powell said.

Powell suggested that inspections could take time, saying he could not speak for the inspectors on "how many months they think it might take" to carry out their mission.

Fielding questions outside his office, Powell spoke confidently.

He said the administration was not handling weapons threats in Iraq and North Korea exactly the same way because it did not have a "cookie cutter" foreign policy. But he reasserted that North Korea, like Iraq, must disarm.

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