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CNN BREAKING NEWS

White House Responds to Iraq's Release of Weapons Document

Aired December 7, 2002 - 07:35   ET

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

CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone, as we've been telling you this morning, journalists have gotten their first look at the Iraqi weapons declaration that is soon to be handed over to U.N. representatives and Suzanne Malveaux is joining us from the White House where the president has been keeping a --surely -- a close eye overnight on these developments.
And, interesting development, Suzanne. We've heard from Rym Brahimi this morning that now Saddam Hussein on a bit of a PR push with Kuwait -- planning to address the people of Kuwait in about four and a half hours.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, an interesting development. The White House is, of course, eagerly awaiting to see this declaration, but they really have very little faith in its content. The Bush administration officials believe it'll have very little to offer in terms of proving that Saddam Hussein has disarmed.

It was just yesterday that President Bush met with his National Security Council to discuss the next steps. They agreed on a number of points.

First of all that the administration is going to take its time in looking over the document to make sure they have a clear understanding of it, but also if there are any misstatements from the administration's point of view that they will declare that Iraq is in material breach of the U.N. Security Council resolution, but they also agreed it would mean that military action would be imminent in any kind of way, that they would allow at least for two or three weeks those inspectors to go back in and to do their jobs. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer:

(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 it will be a variety of things that we want to find out about. Whether or not Iraq has left information out of here. So, we won't be fooled by the size of this document, thinking that the size alone dictates that Iraq has complied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So the administration very skeptical about this declaration, but of course they want to get their hands on it, they want to see it, digest it for some time. They say they will take their time in looking this over. They'll consult with allies as well. There's still a number of points that are being debated -- that is, later on down the road how much do -- does the United States rely on the information coming from U.N. weapons inspectors, how much does it rely on its own intelligence to determine what happens next?

CALLAWAY: All right, Suzanne thank you. Suzanne Malveaux at a very white White House this morning. Thanks Suzanne.

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