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Amin Holds Press Conference

Aired December 26, 2002 - 11:03   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, on to our continuing coverage of the continuing U.N. inspections taking place in Iraq. Let's go to Baghdad now, where the Iraqi information ministry is speaking, and you're listening right now to Houssam Amin. Let's listen in.

HOUSSAM AMIN, IRAQI MONITORING DIRECTORATE (through translator): ... a large number of samples; samples from water, ground, grass, and plants. And they have access to whatever documents they wanted. The teams have carried out thorough inspections, using gamma x-ray, which would detect any nuclear activity.

And the final analysis, that teams have been able to find any evidence directly or indirectly to support the American and British allegations that Iraq is harboring or storing banned weapons.

On the contrary, the teams have been able to see that all the information that was supplied to them by us was accurate. Also, they have made sure that -- and it has been evident to them that the Iraqis have cooperated with them fully to prove the Iraqi point of view in all sincerity.

(speaking in English): Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I would like to brief on you on the activities of the inspection teams during the last week and during the last month. It is one month past since the beginning of the inspections, 27th of November.

The number of sites which have been inspected during the last week is 47 sites; 13 of which are not related to the monitoring plants. So the total number of the inspected sites since the beginning of inspection till now is 188 sites; 32 of which are not related to the monitoring plants.

Those sites are disputed on larger scale, large region of Iraq from Mosul to Basra (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and there are related or joined to the different ministries, such as military, industrialization corporation, the ministry of industry, the ministry of culture, the ministry of defense, ministry of health and Iraqi Atomic Agency, in addition to the private sector.

The number of inspectors and staff -- I mean, UNMOVIC and IAEA staff in Iraq today is 170. Half of them are inspectors, approximately. They are distributed on five inspection teams. They are missile inspection team, chemical inspection team, biological inspection team, nuclear inspection team and multidiscipline inspection teams. And this number of inspectors and inspection teams, relatively high, although we are living (ph), as you know, two important occasions, that is the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The inspections were intrusive and extensive and sometimes they were aggressive, since the inspection teams asked Iraq side to freeze all movement of persons and vehicles in the site. This took place in some sites, of course.

And the new procedures have been applied by UNMOVIC and IAEA. For instance, inspectors asked the Iraqi side to provide the necessary number of miners (ph) and logistic support through 45 minutes only. And this request had been addressed at 6:00 in the morning. And this warning time is very short, but Iraqi side -- I mean, National Monitoring Directorate was successful and was able to secure all the requirements during less than this time -- exactly 40 minutes it was.

The inspection teams also acquired, without any restrictions, samples of metals, raw materials, finished products, as well as samples of sand, water and air and cultures, grass. And they acquired also all the -- any documents they asked to photocopy in the inspected sites. So the nuclear inspection team was able to conduct large scale gamma detection survey to detect any prohibited nuclear activity. All these activities did not support any direct or indirect evidences, physical evidences, that the American and British allegations are correct. On the contrary, the results of inspection reiterate and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the correctability of the Iraqi declarations which had been submitted on the 7th of December to the Security Council and to the UNMOVIC and IAEA.

Those indications indicates that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction and it contains no components of such weapons and there is no activities of developing or research level on these weapons of mass destruction.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION (through translator): (OFF-MIKE) as far as the list that Iraq is submitting to the head of the committee. And also, can you tell us about your position over the questioning of Iraqi scientists? Have you got a response.

AMIN (through translator): As for the list of names that will have been submitted, that will be ready in two or three days, and it will be presented to UNMOVIC. We are concerned about meeting scientists abroad. Well, we don't see it necessary that these interviews should be carried out abroad. Also, Mr. Hans Blix and Mr. Baradei said the same thing before Resolution 1441 and after the Resolution 1441 was passed.

As you know, the day before yesterday the first interview took place with Dr. Sabah. He is a former engineer. We received a request for the interview. Dr. Sabah insisted that someone else was present during the interview for his own protection.

He wanted to make sure that everything he says...


QUESTION (through translator): What would happen if the Iraqi scientists decline the request by the inspectors for interviews abroad or even in Iraq? There any steps that are going to be taken against these scientists who decline to be interviewed?

AMIN (through translator): As far as the interviews go, it's up to the individuals to go for interview or not. It's up to the individual really. We can't force people to conduct interviews if they don't want to or if we don't feel happy about it. We won't force anyone to take part if they don't want to. We don't interfere in this, and we leave it up to the individual themselves.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) you've probably heard reports that Israel is saying that now they have allegations that there may have been weapons of mass destruction leaving Iraq to go to Syria. The Syrian news agency has called these reports comic. What is your response?

AMIN (speaking in English): What can I say? That just absolutely sort of lying for internal purposes. Maybe they have some election campaign, something like that. And I have nothing to say more than that.

QUESTION: Sir, the other question, just about the questioning of Iraqi scientists. Dr. Sabah Abdel Nour insisted to be in presence of someone from the national monitoring directorate. He said it was better for everybody. Can you explain why that would be? There would also be, for instance, the question I think was put to people that there could be a tape recorder, for instance, instead of a witness. Would that be something you would accept?

AMIN: From the legal point of view, the tape recorder is not legal, if you will, because it can be manufactured or can be changed. But if there is a human being as a witness, has a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) witness, this will keep the right of the interview, the person who is participating in the interview. And this is what I think the Iraqi scientists believe. Thank you.

QUESTION (through translator): How would you respond to the Zionist claims that Iraq has sent weapons to Syria and Libya? How would you respond to these allegations?

AMIN (through translator): I just answered CNN, and I said, in all honestly, these are lies, there is no basis to these allegations.

Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. I think the aim -- there is an internal agenda inside the Zionist entity that has something to do with the election. As we know, all the Zionists are extremists, and anyone who's more extreme in his view against Arabs will win the elections.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the American or the British allegations. I wondered if you have seen the analysis of the samples that were taken out of the country to Vienna and to other places to be analyzed. And secondly, whether you have seen any of the reports from IAEA or UNMOVIC in terms of what they have actually found at any of the sites that you mentioned.

AMIN (speaking in English): With regard to the samples, we keep arbitrary sample; I mean, a sample to be kept in national monitoring directorate. If any differences in the future took place, we come back to this sample.

But if any of those samples which are taken outside Iraq to be analyzed, or even inside Iraq in the laboratories of UNMOVIC that indicates that some unusual activity took place, they will address the problem to us. Until now, no such demand from UNMOVIC or IAEA took place. This indicates that there is nothing. Always the positive -- I mean negative results appear.

QUESTION: So you're saying...

WHITFIELD: Out of Baghdad, you've been listening to Iraqi monitoring directorate (sic) Houssam Mohammed Amin respond to questions from reporters there asking him to assess the past month or so of U.N. inspections in and around Baghdad. He said in the past month, 188 sites have been looked into, 32 of which are not related to monitoring. He says samples of air and soil have been taken, and his assessment is still no direct or indirect evidence supporting American and British allegations.

He did, also, respond to reporters who asked about the Iraq -- alleged reports that Iraq was transporting weapons to Syria and Lebanon, and he says he -- that it is a lie. Those reports are a lie, and that no transporting of weapons is taking place.


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