U.S. wants Iraqi scientists to be interviewed; Powell skeptical regarding Iraq declaration
Iraq's weapons declaration bears out U.S. skepticism that Saddam Hussein would come clean, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday, adding that using force to disarm Saddam remains an option.
Powell withheld a detailed assessment of the declaration until chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix reports to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, but said the declaration appears suspect. According to AP, a senior White House official said the administration would have a reaction to the documents by the end of the week.
"We said at the very beginning that we approached it with skepticism, and the information I've received so far is that skepticism is well-founded," Powell said in his first public comments on the declaration.
Powell told reporters at the State Department that the United States was in consultation with international weapons inspectors and other Security Council members on what to do next. If Iraq refuses to disarm, Powell said, "The international community has an obligation to act and do whatever is necessary to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, and that includes the use of military force."
At the White House, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said the declaration filed by Iraq "can be the difference between war and peace." Fleischer also renewed a call for U.N. weapons inspectors to interview Iraqi scientists.
"There are people inside Iraq who are dedicated to peace, who would like to talk, have knowledge that they would like to share, and it's in the interests of the world to hear their facts," Fleischer stated. (Albawaba.com)
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