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DIPLOMATIC LICENSE

Iraq Accepts U.N. Resolution

Aired November 23, 2002 - 04:00:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Security Council says this is their last chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're coming here with full authority, comprehensible authority. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) could go any way (UNINTELLIGIBLE) immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen of the U.N., we have evidence that Saddam Hussein is up there building weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ROTH, HOST: Michael Jackson dangles his child from a hotel window. TV viewers flock to "Autopsy" and "The Bachelor", and it's time to "Die Another Day", a new James Bond film.

Welcome to DIPLOMATIC LICENSE. I'm Richard Roth.

Want a better story? This is the week U.N. weapons inspectors go into Iraq, 12 from the U.N.'s biochemical missile branch of probers, six from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which handles the nuclear file. This week inspectors are bound for Baghdad, if called up, continue their training. In the state of New Jersey, of all places, 20 chemists walk through an equipment yard at a supply company. The goal, gearing up to tell the difference, once in Iraq, between goods used to make normal business items and those whose materials could be turned into Mustard gas and other agents of death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKITA SMIDOVICH, U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: One of the major task of an inspector is to inspect the types of items in Iraq that people call dual use, to determine whether they are used for legitimate purposes or for prescribed activities. And that require certain skills that we tried to develop by both in class activities and going to field to the facility where such equipment is stored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: We have some dual-use humans with us. They have other jobs and have agreed to also appear here on television. In Miami, former deputy and then acting U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Peter Burleigh; in Washington, former U.N. biological weapons inspector Jonathan Tucker, now a senior fellow at the Institute for Peace; and at the U.N. Arab League Ambassador to the U.N. Yahya Mahmassani; and with me in the studio, James Bone of the "Times" of London.

Jonathan Tucker, you've been an inspector. They're going in, in rather small numbers now, but they gear up. What are they really going to be capable of doing four years out and with seemingly small numbers?

JONATHAN TUCKER, FMR. BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well the main task will be to verify Iraq's declarations. So depending on the amount of detail that Iraq provides, that will give them some basis for conducting initial inspections. And if there are suspicions that Iraq's declaration is not complete, they're going to have to do more investigative work to find discrepancies between what they can find on the ground and the declarations.

ROTH: Ambassador Burleigh, you were in charge for the U.S. at the Council when the inspectors were called out and were pulled out. Hans Blix goes to the Security Council Monday. Can you tell us the dynamic of the diplomacy that you think will take place among the big powers once the inspectors are on the ground there, what's going to happen.

PETER BURLEIGH, FMR. ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well it seems to me that the dynamic has changed from the period when I was most intimately involved in '98 and '99, and by that I mean in a positive way. I think the focus now of the permanent five seems to be on the actual disarmament of Iraq question and strong support for UNMOVIC and for Mr. Blix in particular. He and his staff are going to play a critical role over the next weeks and months. And in order for them to play that role, all five of the permanent five have to support them strongly. What we don't want to see is a renewal of the kind of effort by some of the permanent five, which helped to undermine the credibility of UNSCOM.

ROTH: Well that's still capable of breaking apart I think. Ambassador Mahmassani, what do you look for with Blix's briefing and the inspectors returning? Many people say they're never going to find anything.

YAHYA MAHMASSANI, ARAB LEAGUE AMB. TO U.N.: Well I think the briefing that Mr. Blix will give tomorrow to the -- on Monday...

ROTH: Monday.

MAHMASSANI: ... will be quite important, but the most important thing to realize here that the resolution of the Security Council 1441 is quite different from the previous resolutions.

ROTH: This is a resolution that is giving the -- put the inspectors back in, which Iraq...

MAHMASSANI: That's right.

ROTH: ... has accepted for now.

MAHMASSANI: That's right. This resolution is quite different. It's much stronger. It has a lot of facilities for the inspectors, a lot of margin to manipulate, and the inspectors are full authority and full power to do whatever they want in Iraq and besides, the Iraqis have expressed their full cooperation with the inspectors. In fact, Dr. Blix and Dr. Bododri (ph), when they left Iraq, they're very grateful. They said that all the facilities were put at their disposal and they did say that the Iraqis will cooperate with them...

ROTH: Jonathan Tucker, though, is Mr. Blix, do you feel tough enough? He said to one interviewer he's not aggressive. It's an American term, he wants dynamic inspectors.

TUCKER: Well I think Blix has been thus far sort of bending over backwards to appear neutral and objective not in the camp of either Iraq or the United States. And that -- there is a bit of a tradeoff between neutrality and the effectiveness and intrusiveness of the inspection system. For example, he has said that he is going to welcome intelligence information from member states, but there's going to be no Quid Pro Quo. He's not going to tell them which particular tips were correct or not, and I think it's going to be difficult to get good information from intelligence services unless he can provide something in return.

JAMES BONE, "THE TIMES": I mean I think we should cut to the chase here. I mean all the indications are that Iraq on this looming December 8 deadline to make a declaration is going to repeat its oft-repeated claim that it has no weapons of mass destruction. Now you believe that, you believe anything. The last U.N. weapons inspectors found it made thousands of gallons of anthrax, botulism and toxin, things like this. Iraq claims it destroyed them in 1991 without a trace. Hans Blix quite funnily said well said well you know, this stuff isn't like marmalade. You don't get destroyed and not keep any record.

The Iraqis even videotape people when they're tortured. They keep records of absolutely everything. So without seeing that kind of evidence of destruction, I think that there's big trouble coming up on December 8.

MAHMASSANI: I think this is really absurd. Let me tell you why. First of all, you're preempting the decision, the report of the weapons inspectors. Now if the...

BONE: I'm reading the last report from the weapons inspectors.

MAHMASSANI: Well let me tell you something here. You have to wait until the 8th of December until the Iraqis present their list.

BONE: What do you think...

MAHMASSANI: Now if they...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: Well it's up to them. I don't know what they're going to do now, but I think...

BONE: Well what do you think they're going to do?

MAHMASSANI: I think they are going to present a list. Now you're saying that if they don't have anything to declare, well that's not good enough. That's a lie. If they have something that you want to inspect. I mean this is ridiculous really. If they have...

(CROSSTALK)

BONE: If it's so ridiculous, you should read...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: If they have nothing...

BONE: ... the last report by the last inspectors.

MAHMASSANI: ... if they have...

BONE: There are lots of open questions.

MAHMASSANI: ... if they have nothing to declare, they have nothing to declare. What do you want them to do?

BONE: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: You want to...

BONE: Do you take...

MAHMASSANI: Do you want them to...

BONE: ... seriously, Ambassador...

MAHMASSANI: You want them...

BONE: Do you take seriously that they...

(CROSSTALK)

BONE: ... would destroy...

(CROSSTALK)

BONE: ... several gallons of anthrax without taking any record of it?

(CROSSTALK)

BONE: Do you take that seriously?

MAHMASSANI: This -- we are saying this is a new resolution the Security Council has given in this resolution the right of Iraq to actually present a list. Now, either you wait for the list or you keep quiet until the list comes out. You cannot (UNINTELLIGIBLE) say the Iraqis don't have anything to declare, then this is no good...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: This is not true.

ROTH: All right...

BONE: Unless it conflicts with the last inspector's report.

ROTH: Mr. Tucker...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: The last inspectors were -- let's not talk about the last inspectors...

BONE: Oh why not?

MAHMASSANI: ... let me tell you. And -- because there were a lot of spies in this inspector. Iraq had a lot of trouble with the last inspector. So we better start with a new page, with a new history...

ROTH: But it would be pretty dangerous if they said there was nothing and the inspectors found something...

TUCKER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: Why -- I don't want to preempt.

ROTH: OK, Jonathan Tucker...

MAHMASSANI: I don't want to preempt.

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: I don't want to preempt.

ROTH: Jonathan Tucker, go ahead.

TUCKER: OK, I don't think I would agree with the ambassador that we shouldn't prejudge the declaration until we have seen it. On the other hand, I think if Iraq were to say that it completely eliminated its weapons of mass destruction, had nothing to declare, that would not be considered a credible declaration, and it would be very problematic. So I think that we should wait to see, but on the other hand, I think the international community expects a detailed and truthful and complete declaration on the part of Iraq.

MAHMASSANI: I agree with you. I...

(CROSSTALK)

MAHMASSANI: ... think the Iraqis would bring out whatever they have...

ROTH: Peter Burleigh, are you worried about who's going to decide if there's a violation? You've been in the Council when in previous chief inspectors such as Richard Butler have reported. I mean who's going to determine this?

BURLEIGH: Well this is a critical question, and I -- by reading the resolution carefully -- 1441, I'm talking about, the new resolution -- it appears that Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei would report back to the Council and the Council, of course, in the end, would ultimately make a decision about whether Iraq is dissembling and therefore, continues to be in material breach.

ROTH: But they may not have...

(CROSSTALK)

ROTH: ... to decide. I mean the U.S. says they don't really have to. They may...

BURLEIGH: Well, but...

BONE: I mean I think that...

BURLEIGH: But...

BONE: I don't think...

BURLEIGH: ... let me...

(CROSSTALK)

BONE: ... resolution to be fair. I mean I think...

BURLEIGH: Well...

BONE: ... that -- you know the Americans take the position that they have the right to report directly -- I think there is a very coherent reading of the resolution, which gives them the right to report directly, and I think there's nothing in the resolution that requires a further decision by the Security Council. I think Ambassador Burleigh's reading is the French reading of the resolution. And I think...

ROTH: But he's still living in Florida. He's not in the south of France.

BONE: Well lucky he's not the U.S. ambassador or he may be ashamed he isn't. It would have been a lot easier negotiation.

ROTH: Even the U.N. weapons inspectors could be placed under restriction as they keep an eye on Iraq, as seen in this exclusive CNN video. Hans Blix, Mohamed El Baradei, the leading inspectors talk shop on the plane headed to Cyprus, the jumping off point for Baghdad. But they were warned, as were others on the plane, that there are many prohibited items they cannot use while the plane is in the air.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROTH: The United Nations flag standing tall in the wind -- the location, Larnaca, Cyprus. Shortly after U.N. disarmament experts arrived at the VIP wing of the airport. Not exactly waving the U.N. flag this week was the U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rummy is not chummy with the U.N. In Prague, he said the future of the U.N. is at stake on Iraq and earlier on a plane ride over South American, Rumsfeld questioned U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's comments on the no-fly zone over Iraq and said the Security Council had not approved them officially.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I do find it unacceptable that Iraq fires and it is for the president of the United States, the U.N. Security Council to make judgments about what their view might be of Iraq's behavior over some reasonable period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: That's a rather ornate door on an aircraft. The U.S. and Britain almost attack daily Iraqi radar sites and missile batteries, claiming they are targeted first. The U.S. and Britain say the wording in resolutions gives them the authority to keep up the patrols. The current president of the Security Council for this month is China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WING YINGFAN, SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: We do not see the point that we have the no-fly zones and so on because that's never been the Security Council's resolution about no-fly zones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Let's ask our panel what they think. Ambassador Mahmassani, no fly, no good?

MAHMASSANI: Absolutely. There is no legality whatsoever for the no- fly zone. The ambassador of China, in fact, reflected the sentiment of the Security Council. There has never been a resolution adopted by the Security Council on the no-fly zone. That was a simple action taken by the United Kingdom, the United States and France...

ROTH: All right Peter Burleigh, you were in the Council. Would no fly would come up for discussion, and what's your interpretation?

BURLEIGH: I was. All three governments that the ambassador just mentioned, that is the French, the British and our government, the U.S. government, all declared in 1992 that they were using the no-fly zones in order to implement the early resolutions of the Security Council. In particular, the protection of Iraqi civilians in the north -- the Kurds in the north and the Shia population in the south. That has been the U.S. consistent position, and I want to underscore that to begin with, it was a trilateral position, which French planes...

BONE: Ambassador...

BURLEIGH: ... also...

BONE: ... the only trouble with that...

BURLEIGH: ... flew in the no-fly...

BONE: ... is that it's clearly...

MAHMASSANI: But there's no legality.

BONE: ... a wrong position. I agree with Ambassador Mahmassani...

MAHMASSANI: There's no legality.

BONE: I was there -- I was there the day these resolutions were passed in 1991. What happened was Danielle Mitterrand was then the French president's wife, was a friend of the Kurds. She wanted the Kurds protected. The Kurds had taken to hillside. The French came at the last minute and said we want the protection of the Kurds made a provision of the cease fire, and the Chinese said no way. We don't want the protection of minorities to be something in a mandatory Chapter Seven resolution.

And therefore, that provision of the protection of minorities was broken out into a separate resolution. The cease fire resolution is called 687. The protection of minorities is a no mandatory Security Council resolution without the use -- the right to use force and it's called 688. And the American policy is incoherent, and I agree with Ambassador Mahmassani it's illegal.

MAHMASSANI: Thank you, and I really reciprocate by adding to this that it's not illegal, but in fact in a way it's not actually (UNINTELLIGIBLE) conformity with the Security Council resolution that says that it should respect the sovereignty (UNINTELLIGIBLE) integrity of Iraq.

ROTH: All right former U.S. Ambassador Burleigh, go ahead.

BURLEIGH: Well I was going to say simply that there are a whole series of resolutions, which refer to each other, as everyone on this panel knows, over the past 11 years, and have constant sub text and text of those resolutions has been the question of human rights protections and the protections of civilians in Iraq. And it is on that basis that the U.S., the British, and originally the French undertook these...

BONE: Ambassador, if I may contradict you again...

BURLEIGH: ... the protection of...

BONE: I think the British having realized the weakness of the position of basing the no-fly zones on Resolution 688, the one about the repression of minorities, have taken a different approach to the Americans, and their approach has been to say well we are basing this on an emerging principle of international law, which is the protection of minorities, the right to interference, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to protect minorities in the case of a humanitarian crisis. And I think if you ask the British, you'll find that that's their claim, rather dubious basis, for the no-fly zones, where the Americans claim to base it...

ROTH: And...

BONE: ... on this resolution...

ROTH: ... the U.S. -- the U.S. does not seem eager to test the Council on this issue. Let's get back to the inspectors. That's what's coming up in a few days. Jonathan Tucker, a lot of issues with these inspectors. What can they really find, though? I still don't understand how in this short window they're going to accomplish anything. What's the point?

TUCKER: I think the point of the initial inspection process is to access the level of Iraqi cooperation. Hans Blix has said it will take about a year to have any level of confidence about whether there are prohibited weapons in Iraq. But what they can do in this initial period is access the level to which the Iraqis are willing to cooperate...

(CROSSTALK)

ROTH: We saw those inspector wannabes or candidates tromping around New Jersey looking for dual use items. How easy is it to spot a dual use item?

TUCKER: It is extremely difficult, and I am somewhat concerned about the lack of experience on the part of these inspectors. Five weeks of instruction is not enough to give the inspectors the level of experience and expertise they need to distinguish between legitimate and prohibited uses of the same equipment. It requires a nose, a -- really a intuitive understanding of the production of weapons, and there are very few people with experience in biological defense programs, chemical defense programs. Most of them come from commercial industry, have technical backgrounds...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

TUCKER: ... but not in the specialized area of weaponization and biological and chemical...

ROTH: All right...

MAHMASSANI: You know again here, I want to point out we are going again into casting shadows on the work of the inspectors before they have even started. I mean this is unfair to the inspectors. They are equipped with the most sophisticated means and instrument this time. Let's give them a chance to start to operate before we start saying well, they cannot do it. If it's so difficult, why don't do it and give them some time? Give them a chance.

ROTH: Well Kofi Annan asked the U.S. for patience. We have very little time left...

(AUDIO GAP)

ROTH: ... left for Cyprus last weekend by an airline employee. Will there be war? What's your latest prediction or thoughts -- Ambassador Burleigh?

BURLEIGH: Well Richard, I think it's still a question that largely depends on Iraq's actions and Iraq's decisions now. Whether it will finally after all these years do what it needs to do under all these resolutions including under the most recent and supply the inspectors and through the inspectors, the Security Council with all the information that's required...

ROTH: OK...

BURLEIGH: ... with regard to weapons of mass destruction.

ROTH: A very brief answer Jonathan Tucker.

TUCKER: Yes, I would agree that Iraq faces a very stark choice between full cooperation with the United Nations and the opportunity to avoid war and the risk that if it obstructs the inspection effort, it will precipitate a military conflict.

ROTH: Ambassador, very briefly, I know you would like to avoid war. What is your prediction Ambassador Mahmassani?

MAHMASSANI: Let me say this, war is neither in the hands of Iraq nor in the inspector. It's a decision to be taken, it's in the hand by the Security Council. But let me say once more, war is the last thing we want to see in our region. Death, destruction, violence, we don't want to see body bags coming. We don't want to see the whole engulfed Middle East into turmoil. The last thing we want is war. We want peace.

ROTH: OK, the last thing we're going to hear James Bone, who a few weeks ago said we might see war sooner than we expect.

BONE: Yes there'll be war, Richard.

ROTH: OK, we'll leave it on that for a voting note. Thank you all very much for appearing on DIPLOMATIC LICENSE.

Amnesty International is one of the leading campaigners for human rights, and it uses press conferences and media events to get its message out, sometimes on Iraq, but this week on the sidewalks of New York, a demonstration to highlight Mideast deaths among both the Israelis and Palestinians, encountered some resistance from bystanders who took just one side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The balance of bias with bias is not objectivity. It is hypocrisy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) everything. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... woman. Everything (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to say...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the killing of all civilians is wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're talking about the killing...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, about both sides. Both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Palestinians. You kill our children everyday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROTH: The U.N. weapons inspectors walked over President Bush this week. Well to be more precise, Hans Blix and crew walked over the image of former U.S. President Bush, which is at the entrance to the world renown Al Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. The Iraq conflict is giving entertainers and comedians the world over a chance to give their views in unorthodox methods. In the United States, the network "Comedy Central" spoofed the struggle between the U.S., Iraq and the weapons inspectors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SOUTH PARK CARTOON)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, how's the ladder going General?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our recon team on the ladder just found new evidence of threats from Saddam Hussein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam Hussein, but we killed him. We secretly took him out months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes sir and now we believe that he's building weapons of mass destruction in heaven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it just doesn't stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These surveillance photos were taken atop the ladder of what appears to be heaven. Here we see what we believe to be a missile silo and here we see what looks like a laboratory of some sort for making chemical weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That kind of looks like a seagull.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it could be a laboratory disguised as a seagull.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That tricky ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you must understand our fears. We must take out those facilities. We must bomb heaven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen of the U.N., we have evidence that Saddam Hussein is up there building weapons of mass destruction. We have tried to communicate with Saddam through a psychic to ask him to let us see his warehouses in heaven, but he has not responded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course he has not responded because he's dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, dead and in heaven.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get those over there by the warehouse. Right. Chop, chop, come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam, I've been hearing rumors that you're secretly building weapons of mass destruction up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weapons of mass destruction, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Iraq, as you heard on the program earlier, has until December 8 to say nay or offer some examples of weapons of mass destruction. The answer may determine if the laughing stops around the world.

That's DIPLOMATIC LICENSE. I'm Richard Roth in New York. Thanks for watching.

END

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