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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Inspectors Tour Military Complex in Baghdad

Aired December 2, 2002 - 12:04   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 to Baghdad now, where U.N. inspectors carried out their longest visit to date without ever leaving the capital city.
Our Nic Robertson is joining us now live to tell us what they were looking for, and what they actually found -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the longest inspection we've seen so far today at any single site, the al- Karamah site, a military-industrial complex close to central Baghdad, a site U.N. weapons inspectors had believed in the 1990s that Iraq had been using to produce parts for the al-Husayn missile.

Now, the al-Husayn missile is a SCUD variant. It is a long-range SCUD missile, capable of traveling over 400 miles.

Now, the inspectors went onto that site just before 9:00 a.m. this morning. They left just after 3:00 in the afternoon when all of the factory employees left.

The director of that site, who allowed us onto the site after the inspectors left, told us the inspectors had had full access to everything that they'd wanted to see. They had been able to go around the facility, which measured perhaps half-a-mile by half-a-mile square. And he said that that plant no longer had anything to do with long-range missiles.

He said, however, that it still was involved in the production -- part of the production for short-range missiles. Iraq is allowed to have missiles with a range less than 90 miles.

Wolf, we were able to look around under the gates at points to see what the inspectors were doing, and at one time during the inspection process, we saw one Iraqi official emerge with a bundle of documents from one building, and he seemed to be quite agitated. That situation didn't turn out to be anything.

However, the deputy director at that site did confirm for us that the inspectors were going through documents at that facility -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic, these early inspections seem to be going quite well. No serious complaints, I take it, from U.N. weapons inspectors. And I also get the sense that these Iraqis are willing to let journalists follow the inspectors and take a look at some of these sites themselves. Are they giving you guys basically carte blanch to go and take a look at whatever you want? ROBERTSON: Mostly it's been that way. Today, by the time we got into the site after the inspectors had left, after the employees left, we were presented with buildings that were locked that we couldn't get into. But recently yes, the Iraqi officials, once the inspectors have gone, have taken us in, shown us a limited amount of the site, not the whole site. We've been able to speak with the director general or the military official in charge on each occasion. And each time they confirm to us or they state to us that the U.N. getting all the cooperation they need.

That is what we're seeing here, at least what Iraqi officials are telling us. What the U.N. is saying, that there is cooperation, an indication of that on Iraqi television late yesterday. They were putting out pictures showing Iraqi officials and the U.N. inspectors on the site both working together, an indication the government here feels confident about the way the process is going so far -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And before I let you go, Nic, any official reaction or unofficial reaction to our top story of what Christiane Amanpour just reported about those aluminum tubes, Iraqi officials conceding yes, they did try to purchase those tubes, but not for a nuclear program?

ROBERTSON: Nothing so far, Wolf. In fact, it's been very, very quiet on the diplomatic front here, perhaps partly because it's part of the Muslim holiday. But we're hearing very, very little about diplomatic efforts, and no response to that so far.

However, the foreign minister here today, Naji Sabri, did make one comment, and that was about the attacks, as Iraq puts it, in the no-fly zones saying that this was state-sponsored terrorism against Iraq. Of course, the United States, through the Southern Military Command, saying it takes every effort in all its responses to Iraqi ground fire to avoid civilian casualties.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting live from Baghdad -- Nic, thanks very much.

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