Powell sure of support for war

Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 9:18 p.m.
WASHINGTON - Facing European resistance, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday the United States would be able to put together a strong coalition if it decided to go to war with Iraq.
"I don't think we will have to worry about going it alone," he said.
Powell also raised hopes that Germany and France, skeptical of using force to disarm Iraq, might reach a consensus with the United States in the U.N. Security Council after inspectors report next week on their searches for hidden weapons.
"We listen to others and we find a way forward," Powell said at the State Department as he held talks with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of Britain.
In fact, he said, while the Bush administration feels a new U.N. resolution to authorize force probably is unnecessary, it is keeping an open mind because many Security Council nations "would prefer to see a second resolution if it comes to the use of military force."
In Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he could never accept the idea that war is inevitable.
"This is a common position of France and Germany, and we will not be diverted from it," Schroeder said.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Germany would try to arrange to have the weapons inspectors report again after Monday.
And in Athens, Greece, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said there was not enough evidence from the inspections to justify military intervention.
"We want to hope that no country will take unilateral action outside of U.N. resolutions," Ivanov said.
"If that happens Russia will do all that is necessary to return the process to the diplomatic path."
President Bush spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about cooperation on Iraq, the White House said. The Kremlin said Putin told Bush "the main criterion" in assessing the situation should be the inspectors' findings.
Powell and other administration officials left little doubt, though, that Bush was moving closer to a decision to go to war - with U.N. support or without it.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, seeking support from the Council on Foreign Relations, told the influential private group in New York that disarming Iraq is critical to the war on terrorism.
Wolfowitz said the administration was providing weapons inspectors with "names of individuals whom we believe it would be productive to interview," giving information about sites suspected of containing hidden weapons and helping the inspectors on ways to thwart Iraqi infiltration.
In what was the most extensive description by an administration official of U.S. intelligence support, Wolfowitz also said, "We know from multiple sources that Saddam has ordered that any scientists who cooperate during interviews will be killed, as well as their families."
Also, the Pentagon official said, "Scientists are being tutored on what to say to the U.N. inspectors and Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as scientists to be interviewed by the inspectors."
But in Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, a senior Iraqi official, said Iraqi scientists had refused to submit to private interviews with U.N. arms inspectors despite government attempts to encourage them to do so under an agreement with the United Nations.
Former President Clinton, meanwhile, said it was wise for the administration to seek wide support in the United Nations and to listen to what the inspectors had learned. But, Clinton said, the administration ought to keep open the option of going it alone.
Powell told reporters at the State Department that Iraq's failure to disarm was "a challenge that must be met."
He said the administration would consider the inspectors' report on Monday and participate in Security Council deliberations about it.
But, he said, "the United States reserves the right to do what it thinks is appropriate to defend its interests, the interests of its friends and to protect the world."
Powell said he was confident "we'll be joined by many nations" if the United States decides to attack Iraq. "I am sure it will be a strong coalition," he said even as Germany and France stiffened their resistance.
Foreign ministers from Iraqi neighbors - Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia - issued a statement urging Saddam to cooperate with the inspectors, since "the countries of this region do not wish to live through yet another war and all its devastating consequences."
The White House also fired another shot in its paper war against Iraq, issuing a list of charges to support the U.S. contention Iraq had refused to disarm.
It said weapons were hidden in lakes, rivers, mosques, and hospitals and moved around continually.
Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld went to Capitol Hill to give a private briefing to which all members of the Senate were invited.
John Kerry, D-Mass., a presidential candidate, said in a speech at Georgetown University, "The Bush administration's blustering unilateralism is wrong, even dangerous, for our country."
"In practice, it has meant alienating our longtime friends and allies, alarming potential foes and spreading anti-Americanism around the world."
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., called on the Bush administration to tone down its rhetoric.
Hagel, in a telephone news conference from Omaha, criticized Rumsfeld for characterizing Germany and France as "old Europe" and said the United States needs to assure the world its leadership is patient, responsible and wise.

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