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Should U.N. Inspectors be Sent Back into Iraq?

Aired April 23, 2003 - 08:31   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A warm reception today in northern Iraq for the man in charge of rebuilding the war-torn country, retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner. Now in Kurdish-controlled Irbil. He said his arrival was like coming home.
Our reporter Jane Arraf is standing by live with more on what is happening there this afternoon now.

Jane, hello.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now this was definitely the easy part. Now, you couldn't have wanted a nicer and warmer welcome. He was embraced by Kurdish officials when he landed by helicopter from Suliminiyah (ph), further on in northern Iraq. And then he was taken through a procession of waving children, basically attacking him with rose petals, throwing flowers at him as he walked down the street to the Council of Ministers, the parliament building here.

Now this was obviously a staged demonstration, but it does reflect a genuine happiness that he's here and that the Americans are here. But in a press conference later, he explained that there were challenges ahead and one of them certainly would be getting more security to allow reconstruction. Let's listen to that.


LT. GEN. JAY GARNER, (RET.) U.S.-IRAQ RECON. ADMIN.: Everything you do has to be done in a relatively secure environment. I think what you see now, I think security is getting better every day, and I think this is the natural aftermath of a conflict. I think things are going incredibly fast, and I think they're going a lot better than has been portrayed.

So I have a good feeling about this. I'm sort of a glass half full guy, not a glass half empty guy. So I think security is getting better. I think public services are getting better. And I think in very short order, you'll see a change in the attitudes and the will of the people in the south.


ARRAF; Despite that warm welcome, though, Bill, there are a lot of things that the Kurds want. One, they want money in here fast to be able to pay government workers and get the economy back on its feet, and they want to know that they will have a part in a central Iraq, not just a marginal part, not the part that they had before the Gulf War. But something real and something solid, Kurdish representation as part of this central government -- Bill.

HEMMER: Jane Arraf, live in Irbil. Thanks.

Also in Iraq, the topic now, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, wants his experts back in that country. He says Iraq's disarmament should be confirmed independently.


HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I'm also convinced that the world and the Security Council, which have dealt with this issue for over 10 years, that they would like to have inspection and verification which bear the imprint of that independence and offer some institution that is authorized by the whole international community.


HEMMER: The White House disagrees. It says the U.N. inspectors are not needed in Iraq right now.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: We have a coalition that is working on the ground to dismantle Iraq's WMD programs, and we think that's going to be effective. We think that is going to get the job done, and the bottom line is the president wants to focus things on the most effective to get the job done.


HEMMER: That leads us to our question right now, should U.N. inspectors be sent back in to help the U.S. team members on the ground? Let's talk with it with Ken Adelman, who's director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, also Lee Feinstein, with the Council on Foreign Relations. Both are with us live today in D.C.

Good to have you both, and good morning to you.

Ken, kick it off for us, if you could -- should the inspectors be there right now helping to aid and assist the U.S.?

KEN ADELMAN, FMR. U.S. ARMS CONTROL INSPECTOR: Well, good morning, Bill. It's a great morning. It's Shakespeare's birthday, number 329.

HEMMER: Happy birthday to the bard.

ADELMAN: But, no, I see no reason to have them back into Iraq. I don't think they did a glorious job when they were there before. And I see right now that the U.N. is trying to keep in the act in Iraq, like Saddam Hussein is still there, but Saddam Hussein isn't there. Iraq has been liberated. You have free conditions in the country. You have Americans. You have Australians. You have Brits there, and the press is there. So once we find the weapons of mass destruction, the press will be there to see it. HEMMER: Listen, I understand your point.

Lee, what about it? Did the U.N. have its chance, and now it's behind that point now?

LEE FEINSTEIN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think we need to look ahead and not back. I think Ken is right, that the United States should take the lead right now in trying to find the weapons of mass destruction.

But once U.S. and coalition forces find those weapons of mass destruction, I see no reason and very little downside and only upside to bringing in the U.N. to document those weapons that are found. and then to witness the destruction by coalition forces. I think that can only help the United States in the very difficult post-conflict reconstruction.

HEMMER: What everyone around the world continues to wonder, and this is the question now, more than 30 days after the war began, will the WMD, will the weapons of mass destruction be found? Lee, do you think they're still there right now, and is it possible to locate them?

FEINSTEIN: I think it's possible to locate them. I'm fairly confident we will locate those weapons. I think there's no reason why the United States can't share some information with the U.N. inspection team. Some of that's already going on, and I think U.S. forces over time will find weapons of mass destruction and also find evidence of programs to build weapons of mass destruction.

HEMMER: Ken, what about that? Why haven't they been located? Why has it been so difficult?

ADELMAN: Several reasons, Bill. Number one is the soldiers have been doing other things, but looking for them. They've been really increasing the security of the country.

Number two, that I think evidently some of them were a lot better hidden than we ever suspected.

And number three, a lot of them could have been bombed in the massive bombing that we had on very select targets, which were top security targets of the Iraqi government, and you could have had the weapons of mass destruction right there.

HEMMER: Ken, let me stop you on that, though -- if they are not found and discovered in Iraq, is this whole operation a failure?

ADELMAN: No, I think the more you have seen and the world has seen of the barbarism, the terrible barbarism that was Iraq for all of those years, the more grateful the world is.

Listen, on your show just a few days ago, you had a report about 150, 160 kids that were just released from prison. This is 8-year- old, 9-year-old, 12-year-old kids who had been in prison for a year, two years, three years. Why? Because their families were thought to be disloyal to Saddam Hussein.

HEMMER: That wasn't the pretext for war, though.

ADELMAN: No, part of the pretext for war is this is a barbaric regime part of the international terrorist network, and I think it is absolutely true that this is a barbaric regime. Those kids would still be in prison today if it weren't for the liberation of coalition forces.

And, number two, it is absolutely clear that he had ties to terrorism around the world.

So I think it is absolutely clear that it was justified.

And number three, I think we will find, as Lee says, we will find the weapons of mass destruction, and especially the plans for that, so it will be a winner.

HEMMER: Here's what I'm wondering, if you have 200 U.S. team members working in Iraq, a thousand en route, Lee, how many do you need to scour a country the size of California?

FEINSTEIN: Well, first of all, we might look to the United States for a parallel. We had anthrax attacks shortly after September 11th, and we still haven't been able to identify the source of that.

So it's very, very difficult to do this. One thing that is really going to help is the fact that there are now key engineers and scientists from the Iraqi weapons programs in U.S. custody. They will be able to provide a lot of information. So I think with that kind of information and with some patience, the United States will be able to find these weapons and evidence of programs.

HEMMER: Lee, in 10 seconds or less, if you don't find them, is the war in Iraq a failure?

FEINSTEIN: I don't think that that that's a situation we'll confront.

HEMMER: Interesting find. We will he see what happens in the months to come. Lee Feinstein, Ken Adelman, thank you both, down in D.C.


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