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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Interview with Terence Taylor

Aired January 27, 2003 - 11:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's quickly go to Terence Taylor, man that knows an awful lot about this. He was one of the chief inspectors in Iraq from 1993 to 1997, and the head of UNSCOM.
Walk us through a quick list of the harshest indictment Mr. Blix had today of the Iraqi regime and its weapons program.

TERRY TAYLOR, FMR. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, if we were to take what Dr. Blix called the substance, that is the material itself, I think that one of the most worrying areas was the chemicals and materials required for the production of VX nerve agent, the most lethal nerve agent to have been in chemical weapons arsenals anywhere. So this is particularly worrying. And he mentioned quantities and so on. So the Iraqis have got to really deliver up this kind of information.

ZAHN: And basically the Iraqis have said in the declaration it had never been weaponized? And now Mr. Blix is confirming for the first time in a public venue that indeed his inspectors have found that it was weaponized.

TAYLOR: Yes. That's right. I think the Iraqis only admitted early on to pilot scale, laboratory scale production of this agent. Now what Dr. Blix has said, there is evidence that they did produce, they did weaponize this agent and they did solve the problems of the stabilization of the chemical agent to make it more readily usable.

ZAHN: Mr. Blix also complained that U-2 surveillance planes were not being allowed to fly when and where they wanted to. How critical is that to your fellow inspectors getting the job done, as you see it?

TAYLOR: Well, I think it's absolutely vital. We had the U-2 overflights during our inspections in the 1990s and found them valuable. And this is part of the complaints on the process, so it's not only on the substance, so there are holdups and shortcomings on the process, as well.

ZAHN: Mr. Blix made reference to the harassment of inspectors and recent disturbing incidents. Now, what is going to change if the period of inspections is extended? Why would that change?

TAYLOR: Well, it's hard to see it changing without a strategic decision taken by the regime in Baghdad. And what he's complaining about there was President Saddam Hussein and his vice president accusing the inspectors of being spies. This was the substance of that particular complaint. So unless the top leadership makes it clear they're going to cooperate in every sense of that word, as Ambassador Greenstock of Great Britain said just now, is 100% cooperation is needed and it looks as though more time might be available, but not very much time.

ZAHN: Before we head into break, a final thought about what leapt out to you today as we listened to a little more than just hour of speaking from both inspectors.

TAYLOR: Well, I thought we heard a tough analysis from Dr. Hans Blix. That doesn't surprise me. I think he gave a very good analysis, he displayed all the shortcomings, particularly on the side of substance, so a lot more needs to be done.

But both chief inspectors really are asking for more time. It seems to me that the first part of this 60 days of inspections is very much about reconnaissance and feeling their way because neither inspection agency has had their full complement of inspectors or helicopters, and they still don't have the U-2 overflights. We haven't seen inspections at full capacity yet for a very long time.

ZAHN: Based on what you've just reported now, what we've all heard this morning, why aren't any of the things we've gone through considered a material breach?

TAYLOR: Well, they are by some countries and certainly by the United States, and there's been a repeated material breach by Iraq. Of course, the most recent one as publicly stated was the was the full final and complete declaration of the 7th of December which U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that was a material breach because it fell short. No doubt governments are now analyzing this report and will probably come up with other statements to the same effect, certainly probably from the U.S.

ZAHN: We would appreciate if you'd stand by to the other side of this break. We need more of your expertise.

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