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Showdown Iraq: Interview With Tim Trevan

Aired September 30, 2002 - 12:17   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There is a great deal of concern Iraq is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The former U.N. weapons inspector, Tim Trevan, says Iraq has anthrax, botulism toxin and the nerve gas, VX. He has also written a book about the hunt for Saddam Hussein's secret weapons.
Tim Trevan joins us now live to talk about some of Iraq's capabilities.

I assume over the past four years -- correct me if I'm wrong -- the situation has gotten a lot worse.

TIM TREVAN, FORMER U.N. INSPECTOR: We can only presume so, because the basic motivations for Saddam having these weapons haven't changed. He still wants to get them. There have been no inspectors in there to prevent him from using his facilities for making them. And we know from various intelligence sources that he has been trying to acquire the raw materials to make these things.

BLITZER: He has had four years now to hide weapons of mass destruction. Don't -- isn't it prudent to assume that he's not going to put them at places like presidential palaces, sensitive sites that he knows if these inspectors return, they're going to want to go there right away? Hasn't he found other locations that may be totally secret?

TREVAN: Certainly. And also, inspections were very good for proving that Iraq was doing things, but they weren't after 1991 that successful in actually finding items. What they were useful for was proving that everything had been imported to have a biological weapons program, for example. But we didn't actually find biological weapons.

So, in the last seven or eight -- six or seven years of UNSCOM's operations, they didn't actually find things that were hidden. Iraq certainly knew how to hide things from inspectors.

BLITZER: Tim, we have an e-mail from Julie, who is e-mailing us this: "Saddam has agreed to let inspectors in. The previous inspection team succeeded in destroying most of Iraq's dangerous weapons and capacity to make them. There is no reason not to give the new inspection team a chance. Why make war to obtain what can be had peacefully?"

TREVAN: Well, there were two objectives of UNSCOM. One was to find and destroy the weapons, and the other was to ensure that Iraq didn't rebuild. UNSCOM was successful to a certain extent. It did find a lot of weapons. It did destroy a lot. But what it couldn't do is prove that Iraq had nothing hidden. For that to be able to be done, Iraq needed to cooperate with the inspectors. Iraq never cooperated. At the best, it was a game of cat and mouse.

I think that the only way that you can ever gain any certainty that Iraq has disarmed is for Iraq to say, this is what we made, and then have a positive accounting down of what was made.

BLITZER: So are renewed inspections basically a sham? Is it simply a waste of time?

TREVAN: I think it's bordering on that. Certainly, inspections can monitor known sites to see what activity is going on in them. But Iraq has learned from the weapons inspection process. It's learned that if it were to rebuild, how to do so in a way which is much more difficult for inspections to identify, either by doing one job in one factory, and another in another. Certainly, there is no one single assembly plant.

BLITZER: I spoke to Richard Sperzel yesterday, who is a former weapons inspector. You probably know him. His greatest concern is something like anthrax that the Iraqis could engage in a massive anthrax attack. Is that a concern that you have as well?

TREVAN: Certainly. I think the three things that are most worrying are the VX, because...

BLITZER: That's the gas.

TREVAN: That's the nerve agent gas.

BLITZER: Which they used against the Kurds.

TREVAN: They didn't use that one. They used sarin and tabun. But this was a new program for a nerve agent, which is more potent than either sarin or tabun. And it's the one that they had most success in making a staple nerve agent.

So, if they were to rebuild, that's the one they would go for, and that's the one that they hid items from us and never fully explained.

So, I think they certainly will have VX by now, and I think anthrax and botulinum and toxin would be the other two...


BLITZER: The question, though, is: Could they deliver it in a significant military way and weaponized?

TREVAN: If you're thinking of weapons, there are three different types of weapons categories you've got to think of: Something which is useful in terms of tactics on the battlefield. No, I don't think they can do that. Something which is a strategic weapon for terror delivering a few items to Israel. Yes, they can probably do that. And the third is a pure terror weapon in the terms of terrorism just spreading the agent in a city by terroristic means. And they can probably do that as well.

BLITZER: And a new element that the Pentagon has been talking about, the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, in particular, is these mobile vans that can move biological weapons around, and hidden, obviously, from potential U.S. retaliation.

TREVAN: At one stage in the inspection process, the Iraqi counterparts were boasting almost that they deployed these tactics, of moving things around while inspectors were in the country to make it impossible to find them. And certainly, one could have mobile biological weapons production facilities which would be almost impossible to locate.

BLITZER: So, your bottom line assessment right now is what is going to happen to our viewers who are interested in knowing something from someone who has been there on the ground as a weapons inspector.

TREVAN: Well, my advice to the inspectors would be simply to go in to the Iraqis and say, you have you to cooperate. We are not going back to cat and mouse, because that's not good enough. And cooperation means you have to tell us where the documents are, which explain the entire past activity, and where the missing items are. If you don't provide that, we're going to report you to the Security Council for not cooperating.

BLITZER: Tim Trevan, thanks for your expertise.

TREVAN: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Thank you.


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