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Iraq's Foreign Minister Speaks with Reporters

Aired January 27, 2003 - 05:02   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we've got it together now. We want to go back live to Baghdad, where Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, is speaking with reporters.
Let's listen in to what he has to say.

NAJI SABRI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And we hope the report that will be submitted over the last two months will reflect that. And the Iraqi government has cooperated fully with all inspection teams. They have met the obligations that were issued in their resolutions and decisions. And we hope this will stop the aggression that's being practiced by America.

In regard to Colin Powell's allegations, made yesterday in Davos, Switzerland, and we say to Mr. Powell to go back to the declaration by Mr. Eckert (ph) and the IAEA. Professor Zeferrera (ph), who is in charge of Iraq's compliance with the IAEA, have declared that they did not have the ability or the know how to produce nuclear weapons. In contrast to Israel, which has several nuclear weapons, no declaration has been made by the United Nations Security Council.

In 1998, the IAEA declared that there was no nuclear capabilities within Iraq and in another report that Iraq was in compliance with the IAEA not having nuclear capabilities or nuclear weapons. For years there was no evidence of Iraq having the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Iraq has fulfilled its compliance obligations. These organizations, UNSCOM and IAEA, have declared their reports, which are in contrast to what Colin Powell has said.

How is it possible that in the course of two months the inspection teams were able to visit around 500 sites and not able to produce anything, without full cooperation without the Iraqi government? As to accusations of pipes and empty containers, Iraq has proven and supplied the appropriate evidence, that they're lying, that they are lies.

And another accusation that has been made -- which is a lie -- by this administration, and the administrations of UNMOVIC asked, we sent documents to the U.N. regarding the declarations of weapons. As to Iraqi allegations that it is connected to terrorism, we absolutely have no connection or ties to any terrorism.

America's allegations that Iraq is connected to terrorism are all lies to hide America's true intentions, and that America's accusations that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction is false, because America's sole interest is in Iraq's oil resources. And this is to protect America's greater interests and Israel's greater protection, part of America's aggressive plans against Arab countries. And those are the two true objectives.

I will answer any questions that you may have.

QUESTION: You said that any allegations that Iraq is not cooperating and providing full cooperation with the inspectors is not true. But in spite of all of that, and even in spite of the report in New York later today is ambiguous, is not black and white, do you in your heart of hearts believe that there's anything which has reduced or could persuade the United States and Britain from pressing on with the case for war and an attack against Iraq? Is there anything you think that could take that option off the table?

SABRI: Our acceptance of the resumption of the inspection activities and despite Iraq's decision to deal with the Resolution 1441, this evil administration and its ally, Mr. Blair, in Britain, have continued in their threats of aggression against Iraq and in their tremendous psychological warfare against the Arab countries, Muslim countries, including, of course, the people of Iraq, with regard to their intentions of aggression.

And as I explained, their sole aim is not the so-called weapons of mass destruction, because they know very well, these two governments know very well that there are no weapons of mass destruction or related activities in Iraq. But the sole, the aim is their desire to control, to occupy this country, to colonize this country, to control its oil and the oil of the Gulf and Arabia, as well as to protect the security of Israel and its expansionist policies against Arab countries and to ensure Israel's continuation of its policy of terrorist aggression against the Palestinian people.

QUESTION: You don't think there's anything that could dissuade a military attack, then?

SABRI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We are saying that our cooperation has been a super cooperation, not just a proactive cooperation, but a super cooperation. What can a country do when it is being aggressively attacked by two countries in the north and in the south? We have gone through over 490 different sites of cooperation for the inspection teams, through military facilities, economic positions, universities. What else can be asked of the Iraqi people to submit than what they have done for this cooperation?

That is more than what was asked from us from the 1991 to 1998 first period of inspections. What else can be asked from the Iraq than its declarations that it has already made of nearly thousands of pages in less than three weeks? It was a full and complete and accurate declaration that answered questions about everything.

And when we are asked about questions of this declaration, we would tell them specifically to go to what page and where to turn to to find it and where to read it. We told them to read and you will find the answers, satisfactory answers to what you may have in the form of questions.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Channel 4 News, ITN. It's clear that it's one minute to midnight as far as the allies that are determined on their course. Is there anything that you think you could do to avoid military action? And is there any point, if you feel that their mind has already been made up, is there any point in any more weapons inspections if you have nothing else to show?

SABRI: First of all, there are no allies. There is one ally and your country, Mr. Tony Blair, to the evil administration in Washington. There are no allies, first of all.

The ball is in their court. We have done everything possible to let this country and the whole region avoid the danger and the threat of war and destruction by the warmongers of Washington and their ally, Tony Blair.

They are fond of exporting destruction and death to other parts of the world. And we have done everything to avoid this fondness in death and destruction to come to this region.

They are the ones who are escalating the situation, making a lot of threats, fabricating and creating every day a lot of lies, keeping to microphones and to cameras every day to launch more lies and more fabrication, more unsubstantiated accusations against Iraq and threatening others. And these threats, this psychological warfare operation, the target is not the people of Iraq alone. The targets, you, Europeans, also, other Arab countries, because this administration dreams of controlling the whole world. By controlling this region, they are dreaming of dominating the whole world.

So they are intending to try the whole people into submission to their evil plans.


SABRI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The 27th of this month is the same as the 27th of every month. It's a normal day. The Security Council, if the Security Council is loyal to its mission, it has to say to the two organizations to solve this problem to the Iraqi government that has cooperated, that has done a super cooperation over the past time period, and in any occasion or under any circumstance, and we saw in '98 the leader of the inspection team, who was an agent for the U.S. originally from Australia, Butler, was dismissed in '98, and today Iraq has declared something that has no shades of suspicion.

Hopefully, the mission will say to these two organizations to go and fulfill the missions of the United Nations Security Council.


RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Excellency, you said that now the ball is in their court, meaning Washington and London, and that they have no allies. Do you think that there is no room for diplomacy at this stage? Many people are saying that war is inevitable. And who would be the allies, maybe, that Iraq would be counting on or looking to for some solution? SABRI: Diplomacy is there in every time. All times are for diplomacy. The ones who say there are no time for diplomacy are warmongers and those who are fond of exporting death and destruction to others, those who are fond of exporting evil to other nations, those who find themselves, who only find themselves in war and destruction to others, who cannot see themselves living properly among other nations, except by launching aggression against others and killing others and causing misery and destruction to other nations.

As for on whom we are counting, we are counting on ourselves, on our people, on our Iraqi valiant people. We are counting on our people, after god, of course.


SABRI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I will defer that question to Mohammed Amin (ph), who will answer questions about interviews with scientists. This has to do with the implementation of Security Council resolutions. Resolution 1441 says with Iraq's will, respecting Iraq's will, but American and British air strikes has violated this resolution, which says -- so if the two or two organizations wish that these planes fly into Iraq, these two organizations have to say, the two organizations have to say to America then that they have to stop their aggressions against Iraq because they void the resolutions. They void Resolution 1441 and international law.

We don't reject a U2 plane entering Iraq's space, but we can't guarantee its safety.

COSTELLO: We're going to step away from this live press conference right now out of Baghdad. You've been listening to Naji Sabri, Iraq's foreign minister. And he has said what we have all heard before out of Iraq, that America has an evil administration, and also its ally, Britain. It lumped that into that category, too.

But it says America is really conducting psychological warfare against Arab and Muslim countries and the sole end to all of this with the weapons inspections is to occupy the Muslim world and the true aim is for oil and to protect Israel.

It also says Iraq has cooperated fully with U.N. weapons inspectors and that America's allegations that Iraq is hiding something, all lies.

Of course, Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, will speak before the United Nations Security Council. He'll have his status report around 10:30 this morning. That's Eastern time. And we'll begin revving up our coverage of the U.N. weapons report about 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. It will be fully cranked up by 10:00. And, as I said, Hans Blix is expected to speak some time around 10:30 Eastern time, and that coverage will be anchored by Paula Zahn.

Also, later today Judy Woodruff has an exclusive interview with Mohamed ElBaradei at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN's "Inside Politics." TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

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