US secretary of state Colin Powell's statement on Iraq's weapons declaration

On November 8, the United Nations security council responded to the challenge issued by President Bush in his 12 September speech to the United Nations general assembly. On that day, the security council unanimously passed resolution 1441, requiring Iraq to disarm itself of its weapons of mass destruction and to disclose all of its nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs.

On November 8, the United Nations security council responded to the challenge issued by President Bush in his 12 September speech to the United Nations general assembly. On that day, the security council unanimously passed resolution 1441, requiring Iraq to disarm itself of its weapons of mass destruction and to disclose all of its nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs.

Resolution 1441 was the latest in a long string of security council resolutions since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Previous resolutions, which included requirements to disarm and to end the cruel repression of the Iraqi people, have all been defied or ignored by Iraq.

Resolution 1441 recognised that Iraq "has been and remains in material breach of its obligations," but gave the Iraqi regime, again, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations.

Iraq's answer came on December 7 in a 12,200-page document submitted to the security council.

Resolution 1441 required Iraq to submit a declaration on all its mass weapons program of destruction, a declaration that was "currently accurate, full and complete," in the words of the resolution.

The inspectors told the security council this morning that the declaration fails to answer many open questions. They said that in some cases they even have information that directly contradicts Iraq's account.

Our experts have also examined the Iraqi document. The declaration's title echoes the language of resolution 1441. It is called, "Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Declaration." But our experts have found it to be anything but currently accurate, full or complete. The Iraqi declaration may use the language of resolution 1441, but it totally fails to meet the resolution's requirements.

The inspectors said that Iraq has failed to provide new information. We agree. Indeed, thousands of the document's pages are merely a resubmission of material it gave the United Nations years ago, material that the UN has already determined was incomplete.

Other sections of the Iraqi declaration consists of long passages copied from reports written by the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The only changes the Iraqi regime made were to remove references critical to its own conduct. The declaration totally fails to address what we had learned about Iraq's prohibited weapons programs before the inspectors were effectively forced out in 1998.

And let me just touch on a few examples, and we'll be giving out a fact sheet later with additional examples.

Before the inspectors were forced to leave Iraq, they concluded that Iraq could have produced 26,000 litres of anthrax. That is three times the amount Iraq had declared. Yet, the Iraqi declaration is silent on this stockpile, which, alone, would be enough to kill several million people.

The regime also admitted that it had manufactured 19,180 litres of a biological agent called botchulinum toxin. UN inspectors later determined that the Iraqis could have produced 38,360 additional litres. However, once again, the Iraqi declaration is silent on these missing supplies.

The Iraqi declaration also says nothing about the uncounted, unaccounted precursors from which Iraq could have produced up to 500 tons of mustard gas, sarin gas and VX nerve gas.

Nor does the declaration address questions that have arisen since the inspectors left in 1998. For example, we know that in the late 1990s, Iraq built mobile biological weapons production units. Yet, the declaration tries to waive this away, mentioning only mobile refrigeration vehicles and food-testing laboratories.

We also know that Iraq has tried to obtain high-strength aluminium tubes which can be used to enrich uranium in centrifuges for a nuclear weapons program. The Iraqi regime is required by resolution 1441 to report those attempts. Iraq, however, has failed to provide adequate information about the procurement and use of these tubes.

Most brazenly of all, the Iraqi declaration denies the existence of any prohibited weapons programs at all. The United States, the United Nations and the world waited for this declaration from Iraq. But Iraq's response is a catalogue of recycled information and flagrant omissions. It should be obvious that the pattern of systematic holes and gaps in Iraq's declaration is not the result of accidents or editing oversights or technical mistakes. These are material omissions that, in our view, constitute another material breach.

We are disappointed, but we are not deceived. This declaration is consistent with the Iraqi regime's past practices. We have seen this game again and again - an attempt to sow confusion and buy time, hoping the world will lose interest. This time, the game is not working. This time, the international community is concentrating its attention and increasing its resolve as the true nature of the Iraqi regime is revealed again.

On the basis of this declaration, on the basis of the evidence before us, our path for the coming weeks is clear.
First, we must continue to audit and examine the Iraqi declaration to understand the full extent of Iraq's failure to meet its disclosure obligations.

Second, the inspections should give high priority to conducting interviews with scientists and other witnesses outside of Iraq, where they can speak freely. Under the terms of resolution 1441, Iraq is obligated - it is their obligation - to make such witnesses available to the inspectors.

Third, the inspectors should intensify their efforts inside Iraq. The United States, and I hope other council members, will provide the inspectors with every possible assistance, all the support they need to succeed in their crucial mission. Given the gravity of the situation, we look forward to frequent reports from Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei.

Finally, we will continue to consult with our friends, with our allies, and with all members of the security council on how to compel compliance by Iraq with the will of the international community.

But let there be no misunderstanding. As Ambassador John Negroponte said earlier today, Saddam Hussein has so far responded to this final opportunity with a new lie. The burden remains on Iraq. Not on the United Nations. Not on the United States. The burden remains on Iraq to cooperate fully and for Iraq to prove to the international community whether it does or does not have weapons of mass destruction. We are convinced they do until they prove to us otherwise.

Resolution 1441 calls for serious consequences for Iraq if it does not comply with the terms of the resolution. Iraq's non-compliance and defiance of the international community has brought it closer to the day when it will have to face these consequences. The world is still waiting for Iraq to comply with its obligations. The world will not wait forever. Security council resolution 1441 will be carried out in full. Iraq can no longer be allowed to threaten its people and its region with weapons of mass destruction. It is still up to Iraq to determine how its disarmament will happen. Unfortunately, this declaration fails totally to move us in the direction of a peaceful solution.

The GuardianTramp

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