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CNN BREAKING NEWS

The Iraqi Declaration.

Aired December 7, 2002 - 04:00-04:12   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
MONITA RAJPAL, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal at the CNN Center. Welcome to our special coverage of Iraq's weapons report handover to the United Nations. Call it declaration day, a day ahead of the U.N. deadline. Baghdad is expected to submit to international officials thousands upon thousands of pages of information meant to detail any government involvement with ban weapons materials.

Meanwhile, U.N. monitoring teams deploy south of the Iraqi capital investigating two sites deemed of interest. They're back on the job after a two-day break during the Muslim observance of Eid al Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan. Iraqi officials continue to maintain that inspections will not turn up any weapons of mass destruction because they say none exists, and Baghdad says the documents handed over Saturday will bear that out.

So what is President Saddam Hussein's responsibility this weekend, according to the U.N.? Well, as for Security Council Resolution 1441 passed on November 8, Iraq must give -- quote -- "An accurate full an complete declaration of all aspects of its programs to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, as well as all other chemical, biological and nuclear programs including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material.

We go straight now to Baghdad where CNN's Rym Brahimi is standing by with the latest. Rym, the Iraqi government says they have nothing to declare when it comes to weapons of mass destruction programs, but everyone else, especially the United States, is saying they do. So, what can we expect to see or what do we know about what we can about to see in these -- in this declaration?

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Monita, indeed the Iraqi government has maintained until this moment that it has no weapons of mass destruction and that certainly between the moment when the inspectors left, the previous inspection team in 1998 and now they did not produce any weapons of mass destruction. Now what the declaration will include from what Iraqi officials tell us is basically the history, the past history of Iraq's weapons program.

It will also include what was left over from the previous inspection team that wasn't able to complete its work when it left -- excuse me, in 1998. So that'll all be in there. It'll include, also, the fuel use activities that Iraq is doing. These are activities basically, it's all the industries that could be potentially used for military purposes, but that are being currently used for civilian purposes like the petro chemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) agricultural industry also pulled into that fuel use activity sector.

It'll also include things, Monita, like all the monitoring that's been going on, monitoring systems that were in place until the inspectors left in '98, what was still being monitored, if anything, after they left. Things like what's left of the missile program and basically that's what it's going to list. There's about 4,000 pages of documents, that's just the declaration purpose. In addition to that, Monita, there'll be something like seven or 8,000 pages of supporting documents in what we are told, basically the evidence or the proof of what they're saying in their declaration -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Rym, all this happens as weapons inspections continue. Do we know anything about the sites that were searched today?

BRAHIMI: Yes, well after a two-day break, Monita, to -- at the end -- as the Iraqis mark the end of Ramadan, well the inspectors are back out today. They went into two teams, one of them the nuclear experts, well they went to a site south of Baghdad. It's a site that's been seen before, not only by the previous team of inspectors, but also a site that they themselves visited only a few days ago. It's in a place called al-Tahadi, and it's an area where there used to be nuclear reactors that were actually bombed in 1981 by Israeli jets.

Now that place is a very, very big complex. It's got something like 100 -- more than 100 buildings in it and last time the inspectors were there a few days ago, they spent five hours in that site. So we're going to have to wait and see what they come back from with that. The other team, the experts in the biological and chemical field, they went to a site some 40 kilometers south of Baghdad. Now that's also part of the huge military industrialization complex of Iraq, and we're also going to wait to hear from them on more detail -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Rym, well there is an air of anticipation among some in the international community over this declaration. What are the people of Baghdad saying about this?

BRAHIMI: Well people here are sort of holding their breath, I would say, in a way. I'm not sure if they feel the declaration will make much of a difference. They do know that it's an important day. They've been told -- they have actually been able to follow the inspections on television. Not all of them, but especially the one at the palace the other day, for instance. That was -- some of it was shown on Iraqi TV, on Shabbat TV actually, which is a TV channel that belongs to President Saddam Hussein's son.

So they have an idea of what's going on. I'm not sure how clear an idea, a picture they do have. They are, of course, worried because there is this sense among many Iraqis that no matter what they do really, the U.S. still intends to bomb them, and that it'll happen, and that really this is just a temporary reprieve. And so, the mood is pretty much one of maybe not great anticipation. There is, I think, the two-day feast, holiday feast after Ramadan was a welcome break, but then now they're coming back to work -- they'll be coming back to work tomorrow and I think they'll just -- they're just really concerned with their day-to-day life, hoping the sanctions will eventually be lifted, but not really expecting the best -- Monita.

RAJPAL: All right, Rym, thanks a lot for that. Rym Brahimi reporting to us there from Baghdad.

Well the chief U.N. weapons inspector says parts of Iraq's declaration might not be made public. The announcement brought complaints from some within the Bush administration, but Hans Blix says the move may be necessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: For the first time, the counts of loss discussing the risks of releasing parts of this declaration that might help to achieve proliferation of nuclear or biological or chemical weapons, and the Council is fully aware that as the highest authority in the U.N. system for security, they must make sure that they itself respects the conditions, the treaties, the amputee, the CWC and the Bio Convention. And hence, it has asked that the IAEA examine the nuclear declaration to see if there are any such parts and in that case, to advise the Council that these should be withheld from any distribution. And similar that the UNMOVIC will go through the text and see if there are any parts that relate to biological, chemical weapons or anything else that touches upon conditions or any other very sensitive thing, that we would advise the Council that these should not be circulated to anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Now one senior U.S. official says he's confident that permanent Security Council members will eventually get to read the entire document.

In the meantime, top Bush administration officials say that no matter what the report says, they can prove Iraq has illegal weapons programs. They say that while the report may be long, they're not impressed by its size.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just because Iraq turns over a phone book to the United Nations doesn't mean that nobody inside Iraq has an unlisted phone number. And so the variety of things that we want to find out about is whether or not Iraq has left information out of here. So we won't be fooled by the size of this document to thinking that the size of one dictates that Iraq has complied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: U.S. officials say they want to compare the declaration to their intelligence on Iraq. Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations says the report will contain a -- quote -- "very huge amount of information", but Mohammed Aldouri says the information will show that Iraq does not have the weapons in question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED ALDOURI, IRAQI AMB. TO U.N.: We are -- we are saying they would find nothing. We said again and again that we have no more destruction weapons at all. So Iraq is clean of any kind of mass destruction weapons. There is no mass destruction and this is -- this is very clear. We hope not to repeat it again and again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Now Aldouri says the claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction are quote -- "political propaganda against Baghdad".

As we reported, international monitors have resumed inspections of suspect sites. Taking a closer look now at the makeup and mission of the U.N. contingent, members of the U.N. monitoring verification at inspection commission or UNMOVIC are joined by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Swede Hans Blix is overseeing the operation. UNMOVIC was created in 1999 to replace and continue the mandate of UNSCOM, the team responsible for Iraqi weapons check through December of the previous year. UNMOVIC personnel are looking for chemical and biological weapons materials and related delivery systems. The IAEA group is seeking nuclear arms stockpiles.

Prove it, that's what some people are calling on Washington to do as U.S. officials repeat claims that Baghdad is lying about its weapons programs. It's not the first time the U.S. has been called on to provide evidence that could help resolve an international dispute.

Anderson Cooper takes a look back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNITELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why can't you present your own evidence, for God's sake? Nobody's stopping you.

FLEISCHER: I think, Helen, the burden is on Saddam Hussein to comply...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why don't you lay it out on the table? Why don't you share it...

FLEISCHER: I think the burden of proof lies with Saddam Hussein.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There have been moments in American history when presidents have decided that it was worthwhile to make some intelligence data public...

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're wondering why reporters are so insistent to see proof, this is why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that you can see for yourself...

COOPER: May 26, 1960 at a United Nations meeting, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. exposed evidence that Soviet espionage was alive and well, demonstrating how the United States seal, which hung on a wall in the American embassy in Moscow was bugged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now here is the seal. I'd like to just show it to the Council. They've got a beautiful piece of carving, and I -- you will note how it opens up into two pieces -- go ahead, open it up -- and here is the -- here is the clandestine listening device. You can see the antenna and the aerial was right under the beak of the eagle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba.

COOPER: Two years later, President Kennedy revealed there was proof that Soviet nuclear warheads existed on Cuba's mainland 90 miles from the United States. A week later, America's ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, put the question to his Russian counterpart. The world was watching.

ADLAI STEVENSON, U.S. AMB. TO THE U.N.: Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR has faced and is facing medium and intermediate range missies and sites in Cuba? Yes or no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will have your answer in due course.

STEVENSON: I'm prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that's your decision.

COOPER: Finally, the proof out in the open, President Kennedy received word the Soviets would dismantle and pull nuclear warheads out of Cuba. Twenty years later, September 1, 1983 Korean Airlines Flight 007 is shot down by Soviet fighters despite initial reports that the plane had landed safely on an island off the Japanese coast -- proof of what really happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNITELLIGIBLE)

COOPER: U.S. intercepted cockpit voice recordings from Soviet search and rescue aircraft revealed the fact that the Soviets knew they had shot down a Boeing 747 with American passengers on board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can we think of a regime that so broadly trumpets its vision of peace and global disarmament and yet so callously and quickly commits a terrorist act to sacrifice the lives of innocent human beings.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper, CNN, Doha, Qatar.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: And stay with CNN for continuing coverage of the handover of the Iraqi documents. I'm Monita Rajpal. We now return you now to our regular programming already in progress.

ANNOUNCER: This has been CNN Breaking News.

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