From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Powell's U.N. presentation 'compelling' but

Date 7 Feb 2003 16:14:21 -0500

Note #7587 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Powell's U.N. presentation 'compelling' but 'terrifying,'  PC(USA) attendee
February 6, 2003

Powell's U.N. presentation 'compelling' but 'terrifying,'  PC(USA) attendee

by Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made "a strong, compelling
presentation" to the United Nations Security Council Feb. 5, according to
Presbyterian U.N. Office official Jennifer Butler, one of a handful of
non-governmental organization leaders admitted to the historic session.
Nevertheless, Butler told the Presbyterian News Service, "every, every
possible alternative must first be exhausted before choosing the course of
Presbyterians have a particularly vested interest in Iraq, she added, because
of the five Presbyterian congregations there.
Butler said she's acutely aware of the threat of terrorism and that Powell's
presentation renewed the fear she felt Sept. 11, 2001, when she had to
evacuate her office near the U.N. in New York when the World Trade Center was
attacked. "It's easy for me to get caught back up in that fear," she
But the prospect of war "is equally terrifying," she said. "A war would
destabilize, even destroy, the region, result in the loss of tens or hundreds
of thousands of Iraqi and American lives, and cost over $100 billion."
Trying to balance realism with the biblical injunction to be "wise as
serpents and as innocent as doves" is especially challenging these days, she
said. "The 2002 General Assembly of the PC(USA) has called on the U.S. to
exercise restraint," she said, "so in this situation that means we must
exhaust all possibilities before resorting to war."
The full text of Butler's report on the Security Council session:

UN Security Council still divided on continued inspections versus military
action; U.S. evidence helpful, but inconclusive

By Jennifer Butler
Presbyterian U.N. Office

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 5 - This morning Secretary of State Colin Powell
presented what the United States views as clear evidence that Iraq is not
disarming and which therefore places it in grave breach of Security Council
Resolution 1441. Security Council members welcomed the evidence as helpful to
the inspections process, but aside from Great Britain, most did not view it
as immediate cause for war.
Evidence presented by Powell consisted of a handful of intercepted
communications between Iraqi military leaders and satellite photographs of
what he said were weapons labs and bunkers. This evidence was presented in a
lengthy hour and a half presentation. Audiotapes were played aloud with
translation provided on a video screen. 
The satellite photos, which Powell introduced as "are hard for the average
person to interpret," were intended to show sites producing biological and
chemical weapons and trucks moving materials so inspectors could not find
them. The audio taped intercepts were perhaps the stronger of the two types
of evidence. In one communication a leader instructs a subordinate to "remove
the expression 'nerve agents' wherever it comes up in the wireless
New evidence presented by Powell largely addressed the question of biological
and chemical weapons. On the question of nuclear weapons, Powell reviewed
previous concerns regarding aluminum tubes, which have multiple uses, and
Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets used in nuclear weapons production. 
Powell showed a satellite photograph of what the US says is an al Qaeda
training camp in Khurmal led by terrorist named Al-Zarqawi. Powell
acknowledged that this Kurdish area was outside of Hussein's control.
However, he stated US intelligence backed by other foreign intelligence
agencies had new evidence that this group was involved in the murder of USAID
worker Lawrence Foley and that it had taken refuge in Baghdad. Powell
suggested that after al Qaeda's successful attacks on American embassies in
1998, Iraq was more willing to assist al Qaeda especially in training them to
use chemical and biological weapons.
	Powell's conclusions seemed to indicate that the US felt the grounds
for war were clearly laid out in his presentation. He concluded, "Leaving
Iraq in possession for a few more months is not an option, not in a
post-September 11th world."
After the US presentation of evidence, Council members responded. China,
France and Russia welcomed and affirmed the usefulness of the evidence laid
out by Powell, yet saw no immediate need to go to war. However Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw of the United Kingdom, the only Security Council member
to side with the US, expressed concern that Iraq is questioning the Security
Council's resolve. Iraq seems to be "gambling we will lose our nerve rather
than enforce our will." He further asserted that Iraq is in material breach
of Security Council resolutions and that the choice now facing the world was
one of empowering a dictator or taking action. "On February 14 if
non-cooperation continues, the Council must act."  Taking a historical view,
Straw warned that the League of Nations failed "because it could not create
actions from its words" and so was doomed to failure. 
In separate remarks, China, France and Russia, three of the five Council
members with veto power, welcomed the evidence and urged inspectors to follow
up on the information. Each urged the Security Council to complete the
inspections process and expressed hope that this newly revealed information
would make the process faster and more efficient. Each urged Iraq to actively
comply with the inspectors' demands. France proposed that the inspections be
further enhanced by increasing the numbers of inspectors and tools at their
disposal, and offered to provide some of those resources, as did Russia.
France seemed to sum up this position saying "why go to war if there still
exists some unused space in 1441?" All three states spoke of the importance
of the next report of the inspectors due on February 14. 

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