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Powell to Share Iraqi Military Intelligence with United Nations

By Robin Wright
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- Washington

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will share intercepted conversations among Iraqi officials about their weapons programs and photographs of suspected mobile biological weapons labs when he takes the U.S. intelligence dossier on Iraq to the United Nations this week, U.S. officials said Monday.

“We’ve got a strong case. We’ll convince a lot of folks and move many off the fence. The lay of the land will look very different after Powell has made his presentation,” a well-placed U.S. official predicted.

In his presentation on Wednesday, Powell may reveal intercepted discussions in which Iraqis talk about moving weapons-related material and brag about inspectors missing items, U.S. officials said. The administration on Monday was still deciding which material to declassify.

Intercepts are one of the most sensitive forms of U.S. intelligence, in part because they reveal means of data collection that might tip off subjects and close off ways to gather vital information.

Iraq’s suspected mobile biological weapons laboratories have been a focus of U.S. intelligence efforts for years; locating them has become a top concern of Pentagon planners. But little is known publicly about their number or appearance.

Experts have said Iraq may have installed fermenters, spray dryers, centrifuges and other supporting gear with refrigeration capacity in the labs. The vehicles have distinguishing characteristics that would be visible in the sort of satellite photos Powell is expected to present, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. He declined to elaborate.

U.S. intelligence agencies claim the Iraqi regime uses mobile labs to hide biological weapons by disguising them as ordinary tractor-trailers or even recreation vehicles, which have been dubbed “Winnebagos of Death.”