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Transcript of Iraqi ambassador's rebuttal

Mohammed Aldouri, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.N.
Mohammed Aldouri, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.N.

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In a rebuttal to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's indictment of Iraq, Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri denies Iraq has weapons of mass
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Following U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation on the U.S. case against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.N., Mohammed Aldouri, refuted Powell's claims that Iraq is hiding or developing weapons of mass destruction:

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, thank you, Mr. President.

My delegation should like to extend its congratulations to you on your assumption of the presidency of the council for this month, and we wish you success in your work amid these very difficult international circumstances.

We had wished we were granted sufficient time commensurate with the gravity of the statements made by the U.S. secretary of state in his presentation and not just a few minutes to rebut a statement that lasted over an hour.

Nevertheless, Iraq will provide detailed and technical responses to the allegations made in that statement.

Mr. President, I shall be polite and brief.

The pronouncements in Mr. Powell's statement on weapons of mass destruction are utterly unrelated to the truth. No new information was provided, mere sound recordings that cannot be ascertained as genuine. Perhaps you saw me smile when I heard some of these recordings. They contain some words that I will not attempt to translate here. However, there are incorrect allegations, unnamed sources, unknown sources. There are assumptions and presumptions which all fall in line with the American policy toward one known objective. His excellency, President Saddam Hussein, reiterated in his interview granted yesterday to former British minister Tony Benn that Iraq is totally free of weapons of mass destruction, a statement written by numerous Iraqi officials for over a decade.

Mr. Powell could have spared himself, his team and the Security Council the effort by presenting these allegations directly to UNMOVIC and the IAEA, in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 10 of Security Council resolution 1441. He could've left the inspectors to work in peace and quiet to ascertain without media pressure.

At any rate, the forthcoming visit of Messrs. Blix and ElBaradei on the 8th and 9th of this month will be a further opportunity to verify and ascertain the validity of these allegations. Ongoing inspections have showed that previous allegations and reports from the United States and Britain were false.

Mr. President, Iraq submitted an accurate, comprehensive and updated declaration of 12,000 pages, including detailed information on previous Iraq programs, as well as updated information on Iraqi industries in various fields. The inspectors began their activities intensively in Iraq on November 27th of 2002, with more than 250 of UNMOVIC and IAEA staff, including more than 100 inspectors. As of February 4th of this year, the inspection teams had conducted 575 inspections all over Iraq, covering 321 sites. The sites indicted (ph) by President Bush in his report of September 12th, 2002, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his report of September 2002, and the U.S. CIA report of October 2002, topped the list of sites inspected by the inspection teams. Inspectors ascertained that all the allegations made in those reports were not true. This confirms Iraq's declaration that it is free from weapons of mass destruction and that its declaration is truthful and accurate, as documented by the two technical agencies entrusted by the council to undertake that task.

Mr. President, it is well known that inspection teams took samples of water, soil, plants, air, factory remnants, as well as production remnants from vast areas in cities, villages, on highways, farms, factories and universities throughout Iraq, north, south, east and west. Analyses conducted by UNMOVIC and IAEA of these samples concluded the absence of any indication of proscribed chemical, biological or radiological agent, or indeed of any other proscribed activities in any part of Iraq.

Mr. Blix confirmed in his statement to the New York Times on January 30th of this year that the inspectors did not ascertain any of the scenarios alleged by Mr. Colin Powell, that Iraqi officials were moving proscribed material inside or outside Iraq aiming at concealment. He confirmed that he did not find enough reasons to believe that Iraq was sending its scientists outside Iraq to prevent them from being interviewed and that he had no reason to believe that President Bush was correct in his State of the Union address in saying that Iraqi intelligence agents were posing as scientists for the interviews.

We would like to reiterate that Iraq encourages its scientists to submit to interviews requested by UNMOVIC and IAEA.

As for the mobile laboratories alleged by Secretary Powell this morning, Dr. Blix just yesterday stated that UNMOVIC to date had found no proof of the presence of such mobile units.

As regards the U-2 overflights and the controversy that has been raised around them, Iraq does not object to these overflight to conduct inspection activities. Rather, the obstruction is that U.S. and British warplanes impose illegal no-fly zones contrary to Security Council resolutions. It is enough for these warplanes to suspend their flights during U-2 overflights to overcome this obstacle, and Iraq cannot be responsible for these warplanes.

The allegations that trucks leave sites prior to the arrival of inspection teams is a false accusation. Inspections occur suddenly and instantaneously, without prior notification to the Iraqi side. Furthermore, UNMOVIC and IAEA have their own sources for satellite imagery, and they use helicopters as well for surveillance and inspection activities. Therefore, we believe those two agencies are very well informed of what takes place on the ground in Iraq.

It is important for me to remind that programs for weapons of mass destruction are not like an aspirin pill, easily hidden. They require huge production facilities, starting from research and development facilities, to factories, to weaponization, then deployment. Such things cannot be concealed. Inspectors have crisscrossed all of Iraq and have found none of that.

As regards sound recordings, suffice it to say that scientific and technical progress has reached such a level that would allow the fabrication of such allegations and would allow for them to be offered in the way Mr. Powell has presented. It would allow any person, at any time and anywhere, to be recorded.

As for the supposed relationship between Iraq and the Al Qaeda organization, I would note what his excellency, President Saddam Hussein, said. I quote: "If we had a relationship with Al Qaeda and we believe in that relationship, we would not be ashamed to admit it. We have no relationship with Al Qaeda," end of quote.

Mr. President, I would like to refer to a statement by a U.S. official in the New York Times lately, three days ago specifically, and I quote: "Analysts at the CIA have complained that administration officials have exaggerated reports on WMD in Iraq and particularly its presumed relation with Al Qaeda in order to bolster their case for war."

I would add that Mr. Jack Straw has set aside intelligence report from his own government asserting that there is no relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Powell's assertion that Iraq used chemical weapons against its own people in particular surprised me. When a CIA official unmasked the truth on the 31st of last month, just a few days ago, in the New York Times, stating that the U.S. administration has known since 1988 that Iraq did not use chemical weapons against its own people, for a simple reason: it does not have the very (inaudible) weapon used in the Halabja incident.

Mr. President, in conclusion, I should like to say that the clear goal behind holding this meeting, behind the presentation of the secretary of state of the United States of false allegations before this council today, is to sell the idea of war and aggression against my country, Iraq, without any legal, moral or political justification. It is an attempt to convince American public opinion first and world public opinion in general to launch a hostile war against Iraq.

In return, Iraq offers security and peace and reiterates on this occasion, before the members of the Security Council, its commitment to continue proactive cooperation with the inspector teams so as to allow them to finish their tasks as soon as possible and verify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction in order to lift the unjust sanctions imposed upon it and ensure respect of its national security and ensure regional security by disarming weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, including the huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in Israel, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 687 of 1991.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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