Powell : 'Absolutely sure' Iraq has weapons of mass destruction

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said he is absolutely sure Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction, and he said the White House expects President Saddam Hussein to try to deceive them.

A team of UN arms inspectors are finishing their first week back in Iraq, where they are hunting for evidence of programmes to develop biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

“We are absolutely sure they have continued to develop weapons of mass destruction, and we are sure they have in their possession weapons of mass destruction,” Powell said of the Iraqis during a visit to Bogota, Colombia.

He said that if a peaceful solution was not found, “the international community, I predict, will be unified in using force.”

Iraq is required by the United Nations Security Council to hand over a list by Sunday of any weapons of mass destruction it has, as well as a description of any long-range missile programmes.

What Saddam is most likely to do is to provide thousands of documents on such peripheral issues as dual-use equipment, commercial material of potential military use, a senior US official said.

The Iraqi leader’s aim will be to try to shift the burden to the United States to prove that he is lying, the official said.

Meanwhile, President George Bush said Saddam “is not somebody who looks like he is interested in complying.

“This is not a game anymore of, ‘Well, I will say one thing and do another,”’ Bush said in Washington. “We expect him to disarm, and now it is up to him to do so.

“Anybody who shoots at US airplanes or British airplanes is not somebody who looks like he’s interested in complying with disarmament,” Bush said.

:: In Baghdad, inspection team leader Demetrius Perricos said a powerful chemical weapon, the liquid agent mustard, was found yesterday in Iraqi artillery shells at a desert installation.

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