Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, has told the United Nations Security Council that Iraq is deliberately blocking the work of weapons inspectors.
In a long-awaited report to the 15-member Council, Mr Powell presented evidence which he said proved that Iraq was continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The report did not include a “smoking gun” but Mr Powell said that intercepted telephone calls, satellite photographs and the testimony of defectors showed that Iraq was actively deceiving UN weapons inspectors.
He said the evidence proved that Iraq was in “further material breach” of resolution 1441 and told the Security Council it had to take military action to disarm Saddam.
He said: “How much longer are we prepared to put up with Iraq’s non-compliance before we as a council, we as the United Nations, say ‘enough, enough’.”
Responding to congressional concern that the United States is considering the use of nuclear weapons in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday that “no sane person” would want to see that happen.
“No sane person would like to see those weapons used,” Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee. “They’ve been used twice in anger, what, 55, 58 years ago? And it’s a wonderful thing that humanity has not used those weapons again in anger in those 58 years, whatever it is. That’s an amazing accomplishment.
“I don’t think in the history of mankind there’s been a situation where there’s been a weapon of that type that has not been used in that period of time. Why is that? It is, I think, because people are respectful of their lethality. And that’s a good thing.”
Rumsfeld reminded the committee members, many serving for the first time on the panel, that the United States does not have a “no first-use policy” when it comes to nuclear weapons. In fact, the United State’s long-standing policy is to reserve the right to respond with nuclear weapons if the United States or its allies are attacked with weapons of mass destruction or overwhelming conventional forces.