CNN BREAKING NEWS
Insight on Iraqi Documents
Aired December 7, 2002 - 07:09 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get some more insight into the Iraq situation, the apparent revelation, at least, of the documents, not specifics regarding them, but anyway, reporters are seeing those documents.
Former U.N. weapons inspector Terence Taylor joining us from Washington with all of that. He is now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Mr. Taylor, good to have you with us.
TERENCE TAYLOR, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Good to be with you.
O'BRIEN: Sorry. A 13,000-page document dump, it seems like a sham to me. TAYLOR: Well, I wouldn't put it that way. I'm not surprise by the length of the document. They gradually got longer over the years during the 1990s to include all the dual-use facilities. So I don't think the length is something we should make too much of, although it is a real challenge, of course, for the experts at the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency to go through it.
O'BRIEN: Well, give us a sense of how you go about going through something like that.
TAYLOR: Well, you'd have to have experts on the relevant areas, so you don't have one person reading the whole document or a group of people reading the whole document. The biological experts will look at that part which affects them.
And it'll have to be compared with all the past data that the U.N. inspections accumulated over their seven years or so of inspections, and any other data, of course, that the U.N. has since 1998 and might have been given to them by governments and from elsewhere too.
And so it's a very tough job to read all through this. But there are some essentials that, of course, the teams will be looking at.
O'BRIEN: When you say comparing to previous data, explain why that is so crucial.
TAYLOR: Well, it's absolutely fundamental to understand the history of the programs. The history is very, very important. And the people involved in it too, that's absolutely essential. One of the things, for example, on the biological weapons program, which I was deeply involved in myself on lots of inspections in Iraq, was that we never really understood who was actually running program. People were put before us who we didn't believe were actually -- they were involved in some way, but they didn't necessarily head the program.
So just as one example, the people are absolutely vital. And where are they now and what are they doing now?
O'BRIEN: Interesting. Now, I think we can probably make an assumption that there's an attempt to obfuscate in this document. First of all, is that assumption correct?
TAYLOR: Well, I think any inspection team, given the history of Iraq, would have to have that as a starting assumption. There was so much deception involved during the 1990s. The regime hasn't changed in its approach. And so they have to start like that. So that's why we have to dig deep in analyzing this document.
And it's a very tough job. I'd be very surprised if they could do it even in a week or 10 days.
O'BRIEN: Now, I've read with interest that in the past, in spite of their best efforts to obfuscate, the Iraqis have blundered into tipping their hand a little bit. Tell us a little bit about that, and is that likely this go-round?
TAYLOR: Well, I mean, it's possible. You know, they made incomplete -- or declarations that were completely false in the past. And so the inspectors then had this tough job of following up. And that means following up not only in Iraq but from outside Iraq, you know, all the places that they might have acquired equipment from and so on.
And in my case, I was faced with forged documents to try and sort of produce a false trail of where the imported equipment and material went to. And we had to break that, and eventually we managed to prove that these documents were indeed forged, and the materials that were not properly accounted for and so on.
But it took us four and a half years of tough work to break the -- to produce the evidence for the biological weapons programs. So that's how hard it is.
O'BRIEN: When you start talking about years in time frame, and you, you know, drive that with the Bush administration's time frame, you got a problem, right?
TAYLOR: Well, I think now we have a -- we're in a different situation in that I think the Iraqis feel under pressure here. They wouldn't be doing all this were it not for the fact there is a credible threat of the use of substantial force of the kind that will sweep them away, not just bombing of facilities here and there.
So I think this is a dynamic which is making a difference this time, as well as a united Security Council. That's another factor too. O'BRIEN: All right. I want to leave -- ask you about this one quote before we leave. Iraqi Major General Hassam Mohammed Amin said, "We have no weapons of mass destruction, absolutely, no weapons of mass destruction." That's a direct quote. Is that patently false?
TAYLOR: I think it is. I've met General Hassam Amin as head of the National Monitoring Directorate in the 1990s. So I've been faced with this kind of declaration before. So I think that's not credible.
O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, we appreciate it, Mr. Taylor, Terence Taylor, former U.N. weapons inspector now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies. We appreciate your insight, sir.
TAYLOR: Thank you very much.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com