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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Officials Optimistic on More WMD Discoveries Soon

Aired June 26, 2003 - 19:19   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: Now we move on to Iraq and a tantalizing hint that some kind of big announcement could be on the way in the search for weapons of mass destruction.
Now last night, we gave you an exclusive look at some newly discovered components that could produce nuclear weapons.

Our national security correspondent, David Ensor, follows up tonight with another exclusive report on what may be ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his first interview since starting work in Baghdad, the CIA's top man on weapons in Iraq told CNN over a secure teleconference between Baghdad and CIA headquarters that Americans searching for weapons of mass destruction are now making rapid progress.

David Kay said the world can expect surprises soon.

DAVID KAY, CIA CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: My suspicions are that we'll find in the chemical and biological areas, in fact, I think there may be surprises -- some surprises coming rather quickly in that area.

ENSOR: Kay declined to be more specific but progress is being made, insists CIA officials, because key Iraqis finally beginning to open up. Men like Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who turned over documents and parts of an Iraqi gas centrifuge system for developing nuclear weapons fuel. Obeidi and his family have finally been moved out of Iraq at the scientist's request.

(on camera) Senior CIA officials say the key to finding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is not searches but scientists. They are hoping doing right by Dr. Obeidi and making that public will bring in other Iraqi scientists, ready to tell what they know.

KAY: So we're actually being inundating with Iraqis who want to cooperate with us, and that's how we'll get -- I think we'll get it rather quickly, real breakthroughs in all of these areas.

ENSOR: The breakthrough with Obeidi has nuclear experts at the CIA excited. Mike, not his real name and we can't show you his face, talked to us about the gas centrifuge part the scientists gave them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first evidence we have from an Iraqi that he was told to hold it for reconstitution.

ENSOR (on camera): So this is fairly significant?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we believe it's very significant.

ENSOR: Doesn't look like much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand it doesn't look like much. It's a very thin and very round and very strong and very difficult to manufacture.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR: There is no smoking gun WMD evidence yet, but clearly the new man in charge of looking for it is optimistic he'll find some soon -- Anderson.

COOPER: David, I don't want to throw water on this at all, but I mean, they have been optimistic in the past. You're sensing this time it's a different level of optimism?

ENSOR: Well, this is the new man in charge and he is an optimist from nature. He says he's going to stay there until the job is done. But he says there's a lot of new information coming in, a lot of Iraqis -- you heard him say it -- coming in and volunteering information about the chemical and biological programs, as well as the nuclear one.

COOPER: All right. We'll stay tuned. David Ensor, thanks very much.

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