Posted on Mon, Mar. 31, 2003
Powell issues warning to Iran, Syria
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iran must stop its drive for weapons of mass destruction and Syria must end its support for terrorism.
In a strongly worded speech to a pro-Israel lobby, Powell bracketed Iran and Syria with Iraq as promoters of terrorism and suggested they faced grave consequences.
His tough words matched those last week of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and served to signal unity within the Bush administration on the anti-terror front.
Both Iran and Syria have shown no inclination to bend to the Bush administration's growing rhetorical campaign against them.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said Sunday that "Syria has a national interest in the expulsion of the invaders from Iraq."
Rumsfeld on Friday accused Syria of supplying military technology to Iraq, a charge Syria denied. He also said the United States would hold Iran responsible for the entrance of Iran-sponsored forces into Iraq.
Carrying the threat a step forward, Powell on Sunday demanded Iran "stop its support for terrorism against Israel" and said Tehran also "must stop its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the ability to produce them."
Turning to the regime in Damascus, Powell said "Syria now faces a critical choice" of whether to "continue its direct support for terrorism in the dying days" of President Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq.
"Syria bears responsibility for its choices and consequences," Powell said sternly at the 44th annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Of the war in Iraq, he said "let there be no doubt of the outcome. We will drive Saddam Hussein and his regime from power."
And Powell said, to wide applause from the heavily Jewish audience, "we will keep his weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East."