Powell's U.N. speech to focus on evidence

Intelligence expected to be presented includes photos, communications

January 31, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - In his presentation to the United Nations next week, administration officials indicate, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will provide three major categories of intelligence: some on Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs; some on its purchase of materials for making chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; and some on its ties to terrorist groups.

Also, two senior State Department officials told senators yesterday that there is "clear evidence" that Iraq was hiding biological and chemical weapons, harassing weapons inspectors, and harboring members of al-Qaida.

One of the officials, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, said Powell was working "feverishly" to declassify photographs, communications interceptions and other intelligence relating to Iraq's weapons programs and its ties to al-Qaida. In particular, Powell is hoping to present convincing evidence - possibly satellite photos - that Iraq has been hiding mobile biological weapons labs, Armitage told the Foreign Relations Committee.

Powell "is going to be showing some new intelligence and some new information," Armitage said. "No one will be able to evade the absolute conclusion about Saddam Hussein's denial, deception, his absolute lack of willingness to show any sign of a disarmament motive."

Officials said yesterday that the intelligence presented next week - some of which is said to be clearly incriminating, some more circumstantial - will represent the administration's attempt to "fill in the blanks" of the recent report delivered to the United Nations by Hans Blix, chief weapons inspector.

But Blix, just days after delivering the broadly negative review of Iraq's cooperation with inspectors, has challenged several of the Bush administration's assertions.

On Wednesday, Blix took issue with what he said were Powell's claims that the inspectors had found that Iraqi officials were hiding and moving illicit materials within and outside of Iraq to prevent their discovery.

He said that the inspectors had reported no such incidents.

Similarly, he said, he had not seen convincing evidence that Iraq was sending scientists out of the country to prevent them from being interviewed. Nor had he any reason to believe, as Bush charged in his State of the Union address, that Iraqi agents were posing as scientists.

Finally, he said, he had seen no persuasive indications of Iraqi ties to al-Qaida, which Bush also mentioned.

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