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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Too Soon to Deep-Six Diplomacy

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In his speech to the UN Security Council, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made the most detailed case yet that Saddam Hussein is concealing biological and chemical weapons programs from UN inspectors.

He also presented new evidence that an al-Qaida network, headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi, has set up shop in Iraq.

Powell's argument that al-Qaida is working with Hussein's regime was a little tenuous, but he no doubt got Russia's attention when he said Zarqawi and his network have plotted terrorist actions in Europe and Russia.

"We also know that Zarqawi's colleagues have been active in the Pankisi Gorge, Georgia, and in Chechnya, Russia," he said. "The plotting to which they are linked is not mere chatter. Members of Zarqawi's network say their goal was to kill Russians with toxins."

Scary stuff, if true. Let's hope the United States shares any intelligence it may have on this with Russia.

But let's also remember what Powell's purpose was in presenting this information: to persuade the Security Council to support military action against Iraq.

The United States needs the support of Russia, one of five permanent members with veto powers, and one way to win the Kremlin's heart is to give credence to its claims that Chechen rebels are a link in the international terrorism chain.

So far, it does not appear to be working. President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Thursday that Russia's position has not changed and both spoke in favor of a diplomatic solution.

"A first analysis indicates there is no new evidence to prove Iraq has weapons of mass destruction," Ivanov told reporters Thursday.

Ivanov has rightly called for a thorough study of the information Powell presented, much of it based on informants and U.S. intelligence.

He has joined his French, German and Chinese counterparts in pushing for expanded and intensified inspections. The hope is that the inspectors, armed with Powell's information, will have more success in getting Iraq to come clean.

Iraq must disarm. But the United States must not give up on diplomacy too soon.