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Powell Accuses Iraq of Trying to Divide U.N.

BY Admin  March 5, 2003 at 6:15 PM EDT

Powell said that Iraq’s recent decision to comply with a U.N. order to destroy its al-Samoud 2 missiles is “not the kind of compliance that was intended by U.N. Resolution 1441″ — and not enough to satisfy U.S. disarmament demands.

“Iraq’s too-little, too-late gestures are meant not just to deceive and delay action by the international community, he has as one of his major goals to divide the international community, to split us into arguing factions. That effort must fail,” Powell said.

Powell said U.S. intelligence indicates that Iraq is hiding some of its al-Samoud missiles and production equipment while simultaneously destroying other parts in an effort to deceive inspectors.

U.S. officials have been working to garner support for a new Security Council resolution that would pave the way for the use of military force, but have said that previous resolutions have already authorized the United States to forcibly disarm Iraq if necessary.

Powell’s comments came just hours after a joint statement by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Russia that said their countries would block any new U.N. resolution calling for the use of force in Iraq as long as inspectors are “producing increasingly encouraging results.”

The statement cites Iraq’s recent destruction of some of its al-Samoud missiles and private interviews with Iraqi scientists as positive signs that Iraq can be disarmed peacefully. The announcement also calls for a more swift inspection schedule and for Iraqi officials to cooperate more fully and meet “detailed timelines.”

“We will not allow the passage of a planned resolution which would authorize the use of force,” French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told a joint news conference with his Russian and German counterparts.

Quoting from the statement, De Villepin said that “Russia and France as permanent Security Council members will full assume all their responsibilities.”

When asked whether France would use its veto power to stop such a resolution, De Villepin said, “We are totally in the same line as Russia.” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters Tuesday that his country would consider a veto.

Meanwhile, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix told reporters Wednesday that Iraq had been proactively cooperating in some areas, but that Iraq has not fully accounted for all of its biological weapons and that questions remained about Iraq’s purported destruction of anthrax or VX chemical agents.

Blix said he would report “benchmarks,” or unresolved issues in the Iraq inspections, during a report to the Security Council Friday.