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Iraq: Security Council Still Split After Powell Speech

United Nations, 6 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations Security Council remains divided over Iraq following a presentation by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell setting out evidence that Iraq is hiding banned weapons of mass destruction. Veto-holding Security Council members Russia, France, and China said after Powell's speech that they still do not support a military confrontation with Iraq at the current time and that Iraq should cooperate with continued weapons inspections.

Powell on 5 February used satellite images and intercepted Iraqi communications to illustrate the U.S. position that Iraq has been systematically deceiving UN arms inspectors. He also said evidence indicates Iraqi ties to operatives linked to the Al-Qaeda terror network.

Arguing that military action may be necessary, Powell said Iraq was undeniably in violation of its UN obligations and has placed itself in danger of the "serious consequences" threatened in Security Council Resolution 1441.

"I believe that Iraq is now in further material breach of its obligations. I believe this conclusion is irrefutable and undeniable. Iraq has now placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in UN Resolution 1441," Powel said.

Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Muhammad al-Duri, rejected Powell's presentation as "utterly unrelated to the truth." Iraqi presidential adviser Lieutenant General Amir al-Saadi called the presentation a "typical American show, complete with stunts and special effects."

Powell was strongly backed by Security Council members Britain and Spain, as well as 10 East European states: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

The 10 countries said in a joint statement that they understand the danger posed by tyranny and that democracies must face the "clear and present danger" of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime. The 10 countries offered to contribute to an international coalition to disarm Iraq if military action becomes necessary.