WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to split the world’s nations into “arguing factions.”
Powell showed his concern about the increasingly defiant attitude of America’s critics on the U.N. Security Council in advance of an expected vote next week on a new resolution to authorize war against Iraq.
Leaders of several nations normally allied with the United States have said more time should be allowed for weapons inspections before any war, but Powell said the inspections are futile.
He contended that Iraq’s intelligence agency in late January had taken chemical and biological agents “to areas far away from Baghdad near the Syrian and Turkish borders in order to conceal them.”
Powell spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies a few hours after the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia joined forces in pledging to block the U.S.-backed resolution.
Powell said his problem with the position of the three is that they have failed to recognize that Saddam still has not made a decision to comply with Security Council demands.
“He has not made that strategic choice,” Powell said. “And I don’t think any one of them would argue that he has.”
Powell added: “We will see in the next few days whether or not he understands the situation he is in and makes that choice.”
A State Department official said Powell was not referring to a military timetable but rather a series of events in the next few days, including the anticipated Security Council vote next week.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said that if a war occurs, the U.S. Air Force will be able to use Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. It willtake on 130 U.S. planes, the ostensible objective being to continue enforcing the no-flight zone over northern Iraq, the sources said.
In addition, an Arab official said Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will provide oil to Jordan on the assumption Jordan’s supplies from Iraq will be cut off in the event of war. According to the official, the amounts would be 50,000 barrels a day each from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and 20,000 barrels a day from the UAE.
Today, Powell will make a trip to New York where he will try to cajole fellow U.N. Security Council envoys to back the resolution advocating war against Iraq. At present, the Bush administration is short of the nine votes it needs to prevail in the Council vote.
President Bush spoke on the phone yesterday with leaders of two countries whose votes he needs, Cameroon and Pakistan.
Bush commended the “professionalism and bravery” of Pakistani security forces to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said White House spokesman Sean McCormack. The president and Cameroon President Paul Biya discussed “the friendship and importance of the bilateral relationships” between the two countries, McCormack said.