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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Al-Saadi Responds to Powell Remarks

Aired February 6, 2003 - 12:03   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go right to Baghdad right now. That is where top Iraqi officials are briefing reporters, led by General Amer Al-Saadi, the chief scientific adviser to President Saddam Hussein.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

AMER AL-SAADI, IRAQI SCIENTIFIC ADVISER: Last night we said that we will reply or respond to Secretary Colin Powell's presentation at the Security Council regarding Iraq in a little more detail.

I cannot cover the entire report which took over 90 minutes to tell the Security Council about it. To rebut it point-by-point will take me a lot longer. Therefore, I will do my best in the time possible, and we will certainly send a letter -- detailed letter of rebuttal, point-by-point, to the Security Council to be the official response of Iraq to all the allegations that were contained in this report.

No doubt you are aware of the reaction of the world -- around the world -- regarding Secretary Powell's allegations regarding Iraq, and it is heartening for us also to see that a lot of people around the world are of the same opinion, that it was intended mainly for the uninformed in order to sway them for the war preparation, and also to undermine the U.N. bodies that were entrusted to implement Security Council Resolution 1441.

I will go into the report and I quote from it, and then comment on each quote.

Under the heading of, quoting out of context, falls the following: "I asked for this session today," says Secretary Powell, "first to support the core assessment made by Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei.

"As Dr. Blix reported to this council on January 27, quote, 'Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance not even today of the disarmament which was demanded of it,' unquote."

Of course, he conveniently omitted (ph) the next sentence which refers to: "Iraq's delay in enacting national legislation," et cetera.

That, in Dr. Blix opinion, was a measure that Iraq could have done, in his words, "to show its political will." And we have had numerous discussions regarding that. And the matter is under consideration and it takes some time. In addition, we have already explained to you on previous occasions that this enactment of the law is necessary during the ongoing monitoring phase: That is, it assumes that the disarmament phase is finished and the ongoing monitoring phase, in order to facilitate its function, it requires such a law.

And the first to ask for this enactment was the nuclear fire (ph), the nuclear domain for which the IAEA was responsible. And it was the first body to ask for that when they really finished their work, and they were satisfied in going on with the ongoing monitoring.

And we thought at the time that we could enact the law, only regarding the nuclear activities, when we presented the draft for possible comments. It was returned to us with the comment that the law is required for all activities, not just the nuclear.

So it was back to us, and we then proceeded to make another draft taking examples from other countries and sent it back for comments late in 1997. And after that, it was not returned to us with comments as required. And the subject was brought up again when we resumed relations with the Security Council and UNMOVIC.

And as we said, these things take time. It doesn't mean that we don't have the political will to do it. It will come.

Therefore, this remark by Dr. Blix, which was in that context, was taken out of context.

Of course, the remark of Dr. ElBaradei which, I quote, referring to Dr. ElBaradei as reported, he said Colin Powell said, "Iraq's declaration of December 7," quote -- this time Colin Powell is quoting -- "'did not provide any new information relevant to certain questions that have been outstanding since 1998,' unquote."

He conveniently omits the next sentence which says, "not that these questions have anything to do with disarmament." Something to that effect. I don't remember exactly the words. But the words mean exactly that, not that these questions which are remaining from 1998 can be considered as question pertinent to disarmament. So this is another quoting out of context which Secretary Powell was guilty of.

And as I said earlier, that the purpose of the show that was -- that went on inside the Security Council was mainly for home consumption, for the uninformed.

Here we are at the world's highest legal authority, the Security Council, presenting the evidence. Never mind its veracity, this is my word (ph). At the same time, undermining the competence of the IAEA and UNMOVIC and reaching a satisfactory conclusion. This is the message that was being told to the world and to the public, the American public.

Regarding the telephone intercepts, I will not grace them with any more comment other than what I said yesterday. They were below the level of a super power (ph). One can concoct anything and fabricate anything in this regard. And they are no evidence at all. Then he goes on to deal with our declaration of the 7th of December. I quote, "For example, let me focus on the now famous declaration that Iraq submitted to this council on December 7. Iraq never had any intention of complying with this council's mandate. Instead, Iraq planned to use the declaration to overwhelm us and to overwhelm the inspectors with useless information about Iraq's permitted weapons so that we would not have time to pursue Iraq's prohibited weapons," unquote.

Secretary Powell conveniently forgetting Paragraph 3 of Security Council Resolution 1441, which demands from Iraq, amongst other things, to give currently accurate and complete declaration -- currently accurate, full and complete declaration regarding its programs, including any activity which Iraq claims have nothing to do with its past programs.

It is in the resolution asking us to tell them exactly what went on in those establishments that previously were engaged in programs -- in those past programs and now what are they doing from 1998 onwards. And we did that. We did as required by the resolution. Why now does he say that?

It is misleading and conveniently forgetting what the resolution requires from us. We did not choose to put all this information. And we had to do them in a hurry in Arabic. And that of course took a long time to translate. We had a very short time in order to do that.

As for the past programs, we were required also to produce our currently accurate, full and complete disclosure in the declaration about the past programs -- and that's what we did -- and to include all the documentary evidence that supported our declaration. And that was the total of over 12,000 pages.

So to claim, as I said, that we intended to overwhelm the inspectors with useless information -- but who asked us for the useless information? The declaration. The resolution itself, which was crafted by the two powers, U.S.A. and the United Kingdom.

And then he goes on to say...

BLITZER: That's Dr. -- excuse me, Dr. Amer Al-Saadi, excuse me, the chief scientific adviser to the president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, dismissing as beneath the level of a superpower the statement that the Secretary of State Colin Powell made yesterday before the United Nations Security Council, saying that he is prepared to go point by point and dismiss, to reject, to rebut the allegations made by the secretary of state, that the Iraqi government is still concealing weapons of mass destruction.

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