What Saddam's doing is not enough, says US

By Time of article published Mar 6, 2003

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Washington - Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's piecemeal destruction of banned missiles is yet another "too little, too late gesture" aimed at deceiving the world into thinking he is disarming, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell charged on Wednesday.

"Nothing we have seen since the passage of (UN Security Council resolution) 1441 indicates that Saddam... has taken that strategic and political decision to disarm," Powell told the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.

Iraq destroyed another nine Al-Samoud 2 missiles on Wednesday, raising the total to 28 since it reluctantly launched the process last Saturday under UN orders.

But Powell said new US intelligence showed that even as it was destroying them, Iraq had in fact ordered production of more of the same missiles.

"Destroying a handful of missiles... under duress only after you're pressed and pressed and pressed and you can't avoid it... that's not the kind of compliance that was intended by... 1441," said Powell.

Later on Wednesday, the State Department announced the expulsions of two Iraqi UN diplomats for spying and asked numerous other countries to follow suit.

Department spokesperson Tara Rigler identified the two men as Nazih Abdul Latif Rahman and Yehia Naeem Suaood and said both had been enagaged in "activities outside the scope of their official functions".

US President George Bush met with papal envoy Cardinal Pio Laghi, whom he assured during 30-minute talks that "the world would be a better place if Saddam Hussein would disarm", said spokesperson Claire Buchan.

Bush "recalled his obligations to the American people," she said. "He stressed the importance of protecting the Iraqi people."

At the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to downplay the impact of Turkish parliament's narrow decision last Saturday not to allow 62 000 US troops to cross its territory to attack Iraq, as anti-war Turkish lawmakers appeared to be changing their minds ahead of a possible second vote.

He called Turkey an ally and a friend, noting that "it's also a democracy... working their way through a democratic process with a new government."

"What they ultimately decide remains to be seen," said Rumsfeld, stressing that "We have work-arounds," meaning plans to launch an attack on Iraq that would not include the strategic northern flank from Turkey.

At his side, General Tommy Franks, head of the US Southern Command temporarily relocated to Qatar to spearhead an assault on Iraq, said US forces in the region were prepped and ready to roll.

"If the president of the United States decides to undertake action," he told a press briefing, "we are in a position to provide a military option."

"Our troops in the field are trained, they are ready, they are capable... There is no doubt we will prevail."

Pressed on whether the elimination of Saddam figured in the Southern Command's "mission statement," Rumsfeld said: "In the event force has to be used... it will be because of a failure on the part of Saddam Hussein... to co-operate with 17 UN resolutions.

"Therefore, clearly, the goal of the use of force would be unambiguously to have the people who did not cooperate, not there... no longer in charge of that country."

Powell, warned that deep divisions on the 15-member Security Council, which must vote on a US-British-Spanish resolution for the use of force, were playing into Saddam's tactic to "deceive and delay action.

"One of his major goals," said Powell, is "to divide the international community, to split us into arguing factions."

"If these divisions continue, it will only convince Saddam Hussein that he is right, but I can assure you he is wrong," said Powell.

"That effort must fail, because none of us wants to live in a world where facts are defeated by deceit, where the words of the Security Council mean nothing, where Saddam and the likes of Saddam are emboldened to acquire and wield weapons of mass destruction," he said.

But as the United States massed more than 225 000 troops around Iraq, the White House minimised the importance of the threat from France and Russia, two of the five veto-wielding permanent security council members who are against the use of force.

Bush and Powell have repeatedly said US forces would move to disarm Iraq militarily, with or without UN approval.

Still, the White House was clinging to the possibility of a positive vote on the new resolution, which would lend any military action with the aegis of international approval.

"You will continue to hear different statements by different leaders around the world," said White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer. "I would urge everybody not to leap to conclusions about the finality of the outcome, or the finality of any individual country's vote until the day of the vote."

The security council meets next on Friday, but there was no guarantee it would vote on the resolution at that meeting. - Sapa-AFP

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