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Powell: Time Up for Saddam Hussein

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in Tokyo at the start of an Asian tour, says Iraq is clearly in breach of United Nation's demands that it get rid of its weapons of mass destruction, and the time has come to force it to disarm. The Secretary confirmed that the United States will soon propose a new U.N. resolution condemning Iraq, and expects the Security Council to vote on it next month.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein continues to defy the United Nation's disarmament demands and is obstructing, not cooperating with, U.N. weapons inspectors now in his country.

At a news conference in Tokyo Sunday, he accused Baghdad of hiding weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade, and warned that time was running out for the Iraqi leader to present an honest declaration of his country's weapons cache. "It is time to take action. The evidence is clear. They are guilty," he said.

He said Iraq has failed to comply with Security Council resolution 1441, which gave the nation a final chance to disarm and which led to the current inspections program. "[Resolution] 1441 says they are guilty. [It] says if they do not fix this and comply now and cooperate now, then serious consequences must flow," he said. "We are reaching that point were serious consequences must flow."

The Bush administration has used the term "serious consequences" to mean military action. President Bush said Saturday that the United States and its allies will offer a resolution to the U.N. Security Council early this week saying Baghdad has failed to comply with U.N. disarmament demands. Passage of such a resolution could be one of the final steps before a U.S. led invasion of Iraq takes place.

Secretary Powell said he expects a vote on a new resolution shortly after a report by the U.N. inspectors, due March 7.

Mr. Powell is on a four-day trip to Asia to build a consensus on the issues of weapons inspections in Iraq and multilateral action to resolve North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

On Saturday he met Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, whom he thanked for their support on both issues. Mr. Powell will discuss these matters with officials in Beijing and Seoul, and will attend the inauguration of South Korea's President-elect Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday.