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Iraq: Powell Says Standoff Will Be Settled Within Weeks

Washington, 6 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that within weeks the Iraqi situation will be brought to a conclusion one way or another. Powell spoke today to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee one day after laying out the U.S. case against Iraq before the United Nations. Powell said a key to winning UN Security Council support to act will be this weekend's trip to Baghdad by chief weapon inspectors Mohammad el-Baradei and Hans Blix.

The secretary of state said council members are looking to see a change in attitude from Iraq, which the United States says is concealing illegal weapons programs. He said that if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wants to show he is cooperating, he would allow the inspectors to meet with scientists and engineers who have worked on weapons programs. "If he [Hussein] truly had abandoned his goal of having his weapons of mass destruction and was really committed to changing the nature of his regime and his policies, he would be pushing out scientists, and experts, and engineers, and anyone else who knew anything about these programs over the last 12 years and saying: 'Here they are. Take them anywhere you want. Sit down [and] talk to them,'" Powell said.

Powell also said that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush would work toward a second UN resolution but that it may proceed with military action without one. He said council members knew when they approved a resolution last year calling on Iraq to disarm that Iraq would be subjected to military action if it failed to comply.