Wednesday, February 5
Powell raises the banner for war but the world remains divided
Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian, February 6, 2003
Colin Powell yesterday used satellite photographs, tapes of intercepted conversations and newly opened CIA files to make the United States case against Iraq in a determined attempt to win over international opinion.
However, the presentation appeared to do little to heal the deep rifts in the UN security council. America and Britain claimed the evidence proved Iraq was in "material breach" of its UN obligations, justifying "serious consequences". France and Russia said that the evidence only strengthened the case for further inspections. Iraq rejected the presentation as a fraud.
Facing Iraq's UN representative and surrounded by foreign ministers from the 15 members of the security council, the US secretary of state took well over 70 minutes to make the multi-media presentation in the most climactic showdown in the UN chamber since the cold war. [...]
In Baghdad, Iraqi officials dismissed the tapes, satellite pictures and defector evidence as a collection of "stunts, special effects and unknown sources".
Iraq's UN representative, Mohammed al-Douri, called the presentation a fraud "utterly unrelated to the truth".
The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, insisted yesterday "war is not inevitable", but he urged Saddam Hussein to offer better cooperation with the chief UN weapons inspector when the teams revisit Iraq this weekend.
Until the inspectors present another report next Friday, the security council deadlock on Iraq is set to continue.
Mr Powell also alleged yesterday that a senior al-Qaida leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had gone to Baghdad in May 2002 for medical treatment, and that during that time "nearly two dozen extremists converged on Baghdad and established a base of operations there.
"These al-Qaida affiliates, based in Baghdad now coordinate the movement of people money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for [Zarqawi's] network, and they've now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months," Mr Powell said.
He added that the network, made up of 116 operatives, included the "ricin plotters" arrested in Britain. [...]