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Powell Defends US Policy on Iraq Weapons - 2004-01-09


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has defended the Bush administration's past statements on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

He says Iraq represented a danger that could not be ignored, and the international community and Saddam Hussein's regime had years of chances to solve the problem before the U.S. led coalition decided to go to war.

Mr. Powell says Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and used them in the past - and even if no weapons have been found recently, the ousted Iraqi leader intended to develop them.

Mr. Powell was reacting to a report by a Washington-based research institute, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which accused the Bush administration of misrepresenting the weapons threat from Iraq.

The research group claimed Mr. Powell misrepresented the threat in a speech to the United Nations Security Council in February. Mr. Powell said all the evidence he cited at the United Nations had been carefully checked with the intelligence community and was solid.

Mr. Powell acknowledged he has not seen what he called "concrete evidence" linking Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, but that the possibility of such connections did exist when he made his U.N. speech in February.

Information for this report is provided by State Department.

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