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Iraqi Ambassador Speaks

Aired January 27, 2003 - 11:52   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now that we've had a chance to hear weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei speak to the U.N., let's check in with our own Richard Roth, who basically lives at the U.N. and get his perspective on what we needed to glean from the messages today -- hello again, Richard.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Paula. I still don't get my mail here, but...

ZAHN: That will come.

ROTH: Yes. Mohamed ElBaradei, the nuclear affairs person, and Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector regarding chemical, biological and missiles, gave an extensive briefing to the U.N. Security Council. A lot of what they said regarding Iraq's noncooperation has been stated, either to the council or to the press.

There weren't really any big bomb shells, but it was still an interesting list of places and aspects of Iraq not giving the inspectors what they want. Chief weapons inspector Blix says Iraq has to provide hard evidence and documentation.


HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: These reports do not contend that weapons of mass destruction remain in Iraq, but nor do they exclude that possibility. They point to a lack of evidence and inconsistencies which raise question marks which must be straightened out if weapons dossiers are to be closed and confidence is to arise.


ZAHN: All right. We're going to interrupt both Mr. Blix and Mr. Roth to here what Mohammad Al-Douri, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.N., has to tell reporters.


MOHAMMAD AL-DOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: ... its obligations according to Resolution 1441. Iraq provided a full and complete declaration, and since the 27th of November, 2002, Iraq has actively cooperated with Resolution 1441 by facilitating interviews and in granting immediate, unconditional, unrestricted access for inspections from the IAEA and the UNMOVIC.

In less than two months, more than 440 inspections were carried out to more than 297 sites, which included presidential sites. Now there are 237 inspectors and officials from UNMOVIC and IAEA in Iraq. All the sites that the United States and the Britain alleged in their two recent reports that were producing weapons of mass destruction were repeatedly inspected, X-rayed, and environmental samples were taken to make sure that nothing happened there, the result to prove that Iraq is clear of weapons of mass destructions.

The inspectors also proved that all the intelligence information provided later by the United States and the Britain and satellite pictures were baseless. By doing so, the only way out for the United States and the Britain was to resort to the so-called remaining disarmament issues by claiming that not resolving these issues is a material breach to Resolution 1441. Everybody knows that any legal or logical reading of Resolution 1441 contradicts that.

We should keep in mind that the Security Council that includes the U.S. and the Britain laid down Resolution 1284, the mechanism of dealing with the remaining disarmament issues, and that the Security Council disarmament panel stated in 1999 that these remaining disarmament issues could be dealt with after the suspension of sanctions within the future ongoing monitoring in Iraq.

In spite of this fact, Iraq provided new information in this declaration and has expressed her sincere willingness to clarify any questions and work out solving these issues.

No country in the world has disarmed as Iraq did between 1991- 1998. What else but disarmament is the demolition of hundreds of dual-use installations, conducting 3,392 inspections, 2,359 hours of interviews with 1,378 person and 10,256 inspection visits to sites subject to the monitoring system. There is no and will never be such a record of disarmament for any other nation in the history.

I would also like to refresh your memories that the former American President Clinton declared after the Desert Fox aggression that he had, by bombing Iraq in 1998, destroyed all the alleged weapons of mass destruction sites. Since then, and until Mr. Bush decided to make an issue out of Iraq, all the U.S. intelligence reports stated that Iraq did not restore his weapons capabilities.

We therefore should be very careful in determining who is actually in material breach of Security Council resolutions and has decided that the international community and caused the severing and death of nearly 2 million of the Iraqi population under a big lie called weapons of mass destructions.

We have today circulated a document to the Security Council that reflect our sincere effort concerning disarmament and we remain ready to actively cooperate, as we have done in the past, to respond to any doubts through the mechanism laid down by the Security Council and to continue the active cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

Concerning today's session of the Security Council, the main conclusion of today's session is that both Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei said that inspections are working and they found no weapons of mass destructions. From the point of view of the IAEA, as said by Mr. ElBaradei, presented by Mr. ElBaradei, the remaining questions are not unresolved disarmament issues in the nuclear file. All the remaining disarmament issues reflected or referred to in the Mr. Blix statement were actually explained in our declaration. We also invited Mr. Blix in his recent visit to Baghdad and several times before to discuss these files to further clarifying any doubts that could exist.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, the U.S. ambassador said that the inspectors found some items there in Iraq that was not declared in your report to the Security Council. And is this a breach of the thing or just some oversight?

AL-DOURI: We discussed that question.


AL-DOURI: We discussed that question in Baghdad with Mr. Blix and his team, and I think that he was convinced that this would not continue a material breach as it was mentioned before.


QUESTION: ... South African model has been cited. Will Iraq be willing to consider cooperation on the same lines like South Africa?

AL-DOURI: We are doing everything. We are cooperating in all ways with UNMOVIC and IAEA.

And hopefully, I am sure that we will continue in that path that might finish with the inspection as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Ambassador, does that cooperation include the 8,500 liters of liquid anthrax that Dr. Blix spoke about?

AL-DOURI: Sorry?

QUESTION: Dr. Blix says you've never provided any evidence that you've destroyed the 8,500 liters of anthrax. Can you tell us...

AL-DOURI: Well, we told Mr. Blix several times -- I mentioned in my declaration, my statement that we are willing to discuss all issues that Mr. Blix and his team would like to discuss relating to the report, Almarim (ph) report. So we are willing to discuss any -- any -- any question that Mr. Blix want to discuss.


AL-DOURI: Sorry?

QUESTION: He must have brought it up with you already at some point.

(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: He must already have asked you about this, the...

AL-DOURI: He raised only the question. And we told him that if he has time, we can discuss him right now, all (UNINTELLIGIBLE) explain our position very clearly.


AL-DOURI: Of course, we are trying our best.

QUESTION: Dr. Blix says that you certainly must have more documentation that can be provided. Given the pressure from the U.S. that is on Iraq, isn't it clear that Iraq -- and the calls have been made for Iraq to be more forthcoming...

AL-DOURI: We open all doors. We open all doors to Mr. Blix and his team. And I think if there is something, he will find it. But if there is nothing, certainly he would not find anything.

QUESTION: They are asking for budgetary documents, for paperwork in the absence of other formal documentation.

AL-DOURI: We have no hidden reports at all. We gave everything, and we put it in our report with the 12,000 page. And I think they have to read carefully this report.

QUESTION: Ambassador, is it Iraq's view that it is time to end the inspections because it gave everything that it needs to?

AL-DOURI: Well, we think that there is no more need for inspections or inspectors. But if they consider that there is a need, we are willing to cooperate with them for the future.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, it's very clear that what you're doing now is staring -- you're staring down war. And I wonder, you're saying that you're doing everything that you can; the inspectors clearly say that you're not doing enough. What more specific measures are you going to take, as a country, to cooperate further with inspectors to avert war?

AL-DOURI: Well, you know, this is always the same question as before, raised several times. I cannot say more than we are willing to cooperate fully with inspectors so to reach their goals, and also we have to finish with this mass killings in Iraq with this inspection -- with this regime -- sanction regime which caused a lot of sacrifice from Iraqi people. So we need that this game will finish one day.

QUESTION: Should we expect to see more documentation, more evidence forthcoming from Iraq?

AL-DOURI: Well, I think, we give all what we have. But whatever we will find, certainly we will provide it to inspectors.

QUESTION: Ambassador, is it possible to put an end to the mass killings, as you call them, without getting rid of Saddam Hussein and his regime? AL-DOURI: This is a very foolish question. Thank you.


OK. Thank you very much.

ZAHN: Heard a somewhat defiant Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. say, contrary to what we heard inspectors Hans Blix and Mr. ElBaradei say today that they are, in fact, cooperating. His exact quote was that they have given immediate unconditional access to inspectors.


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