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Powell Briefs US Lawmakers on Iraq - 2003-02-06

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell briefed U.S. lawmakers on Iraq Thursday, a day after presenting the administration's case against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein before the United Nations.

Secretary Powell says the visit to Baghdad by chief weapons inspectors Mohamed ElBaradei and Hans Blix in the coming days will be key to winning Security Council support for the U.S. position on Iraq.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Powell said Security Council members are looking for a change in attitude from Iraq. The secretary said, if Saddam Hussein wants to show he is cooperating, he would allow inspectors to meet with scientists and engineers who have worked on weapons programs, and turn over other evidence.

"If he was really serious about it, he would be telling us what happened to the anthrax, what happened to the bombs, what is going on at this facility, what did you cover up, turn it all over, turn over all your cards, and let's get this resolved, that is not what he has done," Mr. Powell said.

Secretary Powell said the United States is providing inspectors with information on Iraqi weapons. He said 60 different sets of data have already been submitted.

He said the administration would consider a second U.N. resolution authorizing force against Iraq. But he said the United States already has the authority to take such action, if necessary, without another resolution.

"The president does not like war, does not want a war, but this is a problem we cannot walk away from," he said.

Secretary Powell also suggested that military action against Iraq could reshape the region in ways that could benefit U.S. interests.

"Even though there may be some difficulties in the days of a conflict, or months after a conflict, I think, there is also a possibility that success could fundamentally shape that region in a powerful, positive way that will enhance U.S. interests, especially if, in the aftermath of such a conflict, we are also able to achieve progress in Middle East peace," he said.

Members of the Foreign Relations Committee praised Mr. Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, saying he made a convincing case about Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions. But many lawmakers also urged him to continue seeking the support of other Security Council members.