BY TOBY HARNDEN WASHINGTON--In perhaps the most awkward moment of his long and distinguished career, Colin Powell could only sit stone-faced as Hans Blix accused him of exaggerating the evidence against Iraq as a way of justifying war(Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)...
U.S. proof overblown, Blix says
February 16, 2003
BY TOBY HARNDEN
WASHINGTON--In perhaps the most awkward moment of his long and distinguished career, Colin Powell could only sit stone-faced as Hans Blix accused him of exaggerating the evidence against Iraq as a way of justifying war.
What Powell had characterized as proof from satellite photographs that the Iraqis had infiltrated the United Nations inspection team and moved banned munitions before it arrived, Blix said could just as easily have been "a routine activity."
The secretary of state looked distinctly discomforted as the former Swedish foreign minister twisted the knife by adding, in clipped tones: "Our reservation on this point does not detract from our appreciation of the briefing."
Powell's briefing to the UN Security Council last week was the culmination of five months he had spent patiently negotiating Resolution 1441 and then building the case that Saddam Hussein had breached it.
In doing so, he had faced skepticism from some within the Bush administration. Now, with a second UN resolution looking more daunting, a centerpiece of Powell's case had been dismissed by the chief weapons inspector as a fraud.
Suddenly, for the former general it was all very personal. Instead of last week's calm, sober delivery of his 80-minute briefing on Iraq's pattern of deception, he spoke with passion Friday.
And he flatly rejected the central contention of the French and Russians. "More inspectors--sorry, it's not the answer. What we need is immediate cooperation."
"It isn't brain surgery," he said at one point.
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