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UN speech on Iraq''s WMDs &#34a blot&#34 on my record: Powell - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US secretary of state Colin Powell said in a television interview to broadcast Friday that his UN speech making the case for the US-led war on Iraq was &#34a blot&#34 on his record.

In the February 2003 presentation to the UN Security Council, Powell forcefully made the case for war on the regime of Saddam Hussein, offering ”proof” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The presentation included satellite photos of trucks that Powell identified as mobile bioweapons laboratories.

After the invasion US weapons inspectors reported finding no Iraqi nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

&#34It”s a blot&#34 on my record, Powell said in an interview with ABC News. &#34I”m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It”s painful now.&#34

Powell spent five days at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters ahead of the speech studying intelligence reports, many of which turned out to be false. He said he felt &#34terrible&#34 at being misinformed.

He did not, however, blame CIA director George Tenet. Tenet &#34did not sit there for five days with me misleading me,&#34 he said. &#34He believed what he was giving to me was accurate.&#34

However some members of the US intelligence community &#34knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn”t be relied upon, and they didn”t speak up,&#34 Powell said.

&#34These are not senior people, but these are people who were aware that some of these resources should not be considered reliable,&#34 he said. &#34I was enormously disappointed,&#34 he added.

Powell also said that he had &#34never seen evidence to suggest&#34 a connection between the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States and the Saddam regime.

As for post-Saddam Iraq, Powell said there was little choice but to keep investing in the Iraqi armed forces.

&#34What we didn”t do in the immediate aftermath of the war was to impose our will on the whole country, with enough troops of our own, with enough troops from coalition forces, or, by (quickly) recreating the Iraqi (armed) forces,&#34 he said.

&#34It may not have turned out to be such a mess if we had done some things differently,&#34 he said.

Powell also voiced concern over a possible civil war in Iraq.

&#34A way has to be found for the Sunnis to be brought into the political process. You cannot let . . . Iraq devolve into a mini-state in the north, a larger mini-state in the south, and sort of nothing in the middle,&#34 he said.

&#34The mission we set for ourselves at the beginning, and which we told the Iraqis that we were going to do, is to keep this as a single state. And that”s the challenge that we have now,&#34 he added.

Powell downplayed his reported differences with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and said he was on good terms with President George W. Bush.

&#34There are some who say, well, you shouldn”t have supported (the war), you should have resigned. But I”m glad that Saddam Hussein is gone,&#34 Powell said.

On Washington”s differences with Tehran, Powell also said he does not see &#34a clear military option with respect to Iran.&#34

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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