Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday begins a lobbying campaign for United Nations action against Iraq with fellow foreign ministers at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Echoing President Bush's U.N. speech Thursday, Mr. Powell says the U.N. must enforce its resolutions on Iraq or risk becoming politically irrelevant.
Mr. Powell holds separate or group meetings during the day with about 60 foreign ministers, including members of the U.N. Security Council, as he presses the world community to confront Iraq's defiance of U.N. resolutions.
Addressing a foreign policy group in New York Thursday night, the Secretary said President Bush's message to the General Assembly earlier in the day was not a declaration of war, but rather a challenge to the U.N. to enforce its own resolutions for Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction.
"To assume the Iraqi regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions of people and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble," he said. "And as the President said to the assembled delegates of the United Nations General Assembly today, this is a risk we must not take, we have to respond. The President gave a clear call for response. It wasn't a declaration of war. It was a statement to the United Nations that it is time to act."
Mr. Powell said Saddam Hussein, whom he called a "tyrant leader," has long made what he termed an "unholy alliance" with terrorists. He also said the Iraqi leader has never lost his intent to develop terror weapons, and said his violations of international law are unarguable. "One can argue as to what his development activities are. One can argue as to what his stockpiles look like. One can argue at the pace of development within Iraq of these terrible weapons," he said. "But what is not arguable is that he is in violation of international law and the international constraints that were placed upon him. And what is also not arguable is that he has the intent, he has never lost the intent to develop these kinds of weapons."
Mr. Powell had afternoon meetings set with his colleagues from the other permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia, China, Britain and France, and a separate session with the the ten non-permanent members.
Other meetings on his schedule include a session with foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and with his counterpart from Qatar, whose support would be critical in the event of U.S. military action against Iraq.
President Bush in his U.N. policy speech made no specific threat of force against Baghdad, yet suggested such a scenario would be "unavoidable" in the absence of firm action by the international community.
The Secretary of State also planned three appearances on U.S. television networks Friday to press for domestic support for administration policy.
In his address to the private National Committee on American Foreign Policy here, Mr. Powell said he is confident the administration can successfully make its case against Iraq to the American people, once they have "paused" to examine the President's address and supplementary information still to come.