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 Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 23:09 GMT
Powell denounces Iraq response
Colin Powell
Powell: Not up to inspectors to find a "smoking gun"
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has accused Iraq of using "evasions and lies" in response to United Nations pressure for it to disarm.

The nexus of tyrants and terror, of terrorists and weapons of mass terror, is the greatest danger of our age

Colin Powell

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Mr Powell said the United States was ready to go to war alone against Iraq if it came to it, warning that time was running out for Baghdad to cooperate with the UN weapons inspectors.

The US would "not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction", he declared.

Jordan's King Abdullah later told the Davos forum that "it would take a miracle to find a dialogue and a peaceful solution out of the crisis".

On Monday, the UN Security Council will hear a key report from the UN inspectors. The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, said his briefing would be objective but would not produce any surprises.

Audience of sceptics

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated his support for Washington on Sunday.

He told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme: "When America is taking on these tough and difficult questions, our job is to be there - not be there at any price ... not simply there as fair-weather friends".

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

But in Switzerland, Mr Powell was facing an audience of sceptics.

European leaders have said they want the UN inspectors to continue their search for illegally-held weapons for several more months if necessary.

And business chiefs at Davos are also concerned that a war with Iraq will further threaten the international economy, pushing oil prices higher and increasing inflation.

KEY DATES
27 Jan - First full report on inspections presented to UN
29 Jan - UN discusses report
31 Jan - Bush meets Blair
15 Feb - Anti-war protests across Europe
27 Mar - Blix submits new report to UN
Mr Powell warned against giving Saddam Hussein's regime any more time, saying that would increase the risk of Iraq's arsenal falling into the hands of groups such as al-Qaeda.

"The nexus of tyrants and terror, of terrorists and weapons of mass terror, is the greatest danger of our age," he said.

Careful consideration

Leaving for New York, Mr ElBaradei said at the Security Council on Monday he would "report on progress achieved and... tell them what we still need to do".

"I hope our report will give the international community an objective assessment. How they want to use it - that's their prerogative," he said.

UN vehicle in front of a mural of Saddam Hussein
The inspectors have demanded more time
Mr Powell has said the US administration will carefully consider the reports before taking action.

But he said the Security Council resolution passed in November put the burden on Iraq to disclose its weapons programme and not on inspectors to find a "smoking gun".

He demanded that Iraq account for a long list of missing materials including biological weapons.

"These are questions of life and death and they must be answered," he said.

Mr Powell appealed to the world to trust the United States to use its power for good, citing American involvement in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bosnia, as examples of his country's good intentions.

"We seek nothing for ourselves other than to bring about security for those who have suffered so much," he said.

Senior US Senator Richard Lugar says the US should do its utmost to convince every nation that Saddam was a threat.

Refugees

But in an interview with BBC News Online's Talking Point programme the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed how it important it would be to gain a second resolution backing force

"We will work, starting on Wednesday, with all other members of the UN Security Council to get a successful second resolution," he said.

More than 1,000 protesters opposed to war in Iraq arrived in Bern on Saturday planning to march in Davos, but were prevented from reaching their destination by police.

Meanwhile, Iran has said it is ready to shelter about 200,000 Iraqi refugees in the event of war.

An interior ministry official, Ahmed Hosseini, said Iran still maintained a policy of closed borders with Iraq, but it was talking to Iraqi officials about setting up 10 camps on the border.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Jane Bennett-Powell
"King Abdullah of Jordan voiced his concern that time is running out"
  Hume Horan, Former US Ambassador to the Middle East
"We are getting closer to the brink"

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26 Jan 03 | Americas
26 Jan 03 | Americas
26 Jan 03 | Europe
26 Jan 03 | Americas
26 Jan 03 | Politics
24 Jan 03 | Middle East
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