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Powell Builds Case For War

Secretary of State Colin Powell will present satellite photographs and transcripts of overheard conversations among Iraqi officials in his upcoming presentation to the U.N. Security Council, an administration official said.

Powell sifted through classified U.S. intelligence on Monday to choose what he will make public on Wednesday. He is expected to display the photographs — which he will contend depict mobile biological weapons installations — and refer to transcripts of conversations, an administration official told The Associated Press.

At the White House, meanwhile, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters that the United States has a "wide variety of means" to support U.S. assertions that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

CBS News White House Correspondent Peter Maer reports the White House is insisting that the weekend's space shuttle tragedy will not delay plans for possible military action.

Powell's presentation could be critical to U.S. attempts to rally skeptical allies and other members of the Council to the proposition of war.

The secretary plans to meet in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday with 10 or more foreign ministers who will attend the critical Security Council session.

In Washington, meanwhile, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders were invited to the White House for a meeting at 7 a.m. EST Wednesday on Powell's presentation to the United Nations.

The backdrop to Powell's preparation was a continuing move toward war.

Powell met with the king of Bahrain, a key ally whose pro-government press says has deployed anti-missile batteries.

A defense official said a fourth Navy aircraft carrier will be sent to the Persian Gulf. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, based in Norfolk, Va., is wrapping up pre-deployment training and is likely to head toward the Gulf within several days, the official said. The United States has deployed almost 90,000 troops in the Gulf region, a number that may double soon.

In the region itself, two American schools in Kuwait announced plans to close for six weeks, Turkey began moving troops to its border with Iraq and Arab states scheduled a meeting to compose a unified statement against the war.

Iraqi parliament speaker Saadoun Hammadi told a group of legislators from the European Parliament that Iraq "will not turn the other cheek" should the United States use force against it.

"American aggression will end up in a catastrophe for them," Hammadi said. "They will incur casualties beyond their imagination."

Iraq has steadfastly denied it has weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors have yet to find anything conclusive and Iraq has claimed that Powell will fabricate evidence against Saddam Hussein.

Powell shot back Monday in a commentary published in the Wall Street Journal, warning that the United States "will not shrink from war." Though he won't give the council a "smoking gun," Powell promised to present evidence of the "programs that Iraq is working so hard to hide."

"We will, in sum, offer a straightforward, sober and compelling demonstration that Saddam is concealing the evidence of his weapons of mass destruction, while preserving the weapons themselves," he said.

He also alleged that Iraq "continues to acquire banned equipment, with proscribed imports arriving as recently as last month."

Saddam is expected to offer his own assessment on the U.S.-Iraqi confrontation in a television interview with left-wing former British lawmaker and anti-war activist Tony Benn. The interview was taped Sunday and will be broadcast in the next day or two, Benn said.

Facing a U.S.-led invasion, Iraq invited the two chief U.N. weapons inspectors back to Baghdad and has promised the government would "do our best" to make Saturday's visit successful.

The chief inspectors hope they will win meaningful concessions from the Iraqis on reconnaissance U-2 flights and private interviews with Iraqi scientists — two of the issues the inspectors say have stalled progress so far.

The talks with chief U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei will come just before their next important report to the council, on Feb. 14. It will be the second round of Baghdad talks for Blix and ElBaradei in three weeks.

The White House has indicated that the timetable for diplomacy is "weeks, not months" long, and both President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain have indicated the Feb. 14 date could be pivotal.

Rolf Ekeus, who headed U.N. inspections in Iraq from 1991-97, said Monday he believes the current U.N. inspection team should be given two years to carry out its work.

Weapons inspectors found missile parts Monday, but they appeared to be for short-range missiles that Iraq is permitted to have. They also visited a detergent factory, of interest because of its potential for dual civilian-military use.

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