CNN exclusive interview with Hussein Kamel Hussein
Airtime - CNN at 8:30 p.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. PDT) Thursday (0030 GMT Friday)
September 21, 1995
Web posted at: 10:50 p.m. EDT (1450 GMT)
AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Until his defection to Jordan last month, Hussein Kamel Hussein was supposedly one of Iraq's elite. A son-in-law of President Saddam Hussein, he sat at the Iraqi leader's right hand, had close contact with the president's son, Uday, and played a pivotal role in military operations. Accordingly, Hussein Kamel stunned the world when he fled Baghdad with his brother, Saddam Kamel, and their two wives, daughters of Saddam Hussein. Now he is speaking out in a CNN exclusive with Brent Sadler.
In his first television interview since the defection, Hussein Kamel unveiled some of the mystery shrouding Iraqi military practices. The Former minister of defense, he detailed earlier plans for nuclear weapons in Iraq, but said that Baghdad no longer has any weapons of mass destruction. Hussein Kamel also told tales of torture.
Here are excerpts from Sadler's interview. This historic discussion will be shown on CNN at 8:30 p.m. EDT (5:30 p.m. PDT) Thursday (0030 GMT Friday).
BRENT SADLER, CNN: How close was Iraq in your knowledge to producing a deliverable nuclear weapon?
HUSSEIN KAMEL: First we had enriched French uranium that was ready for a bomb and highly enriched Russian uranium as well.
SADLER: Did Saddam Hussein ever ask his atomic scientists whether it was feasible to deliver some kind of nuclear device at the time of the gulf war (51K AIFF sound or 51K WAV sound)?
HUSSEIN KAMEL: We designed the shell of the weapons. Our first design was for 12 tons and then it went down to six tons, and we wanted a very small bomb with a 500 kilogram warhead or even 300 kilos so it could easily be carried by missile or warplanes. It would be more powerful. Iraq was working very quickly on this. We wanted the missiles to carry the nuclear weapons. But that's all in the past. Now Iraq is not going to repeat that (289K AIFF sound or 289K WAV sound).
SADLER: Can you state here and now, does Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction left?
HUSSEIN KAMEL: No, Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. I am being completely honest about this.
SADLER: Does the regime rely on torture to keep people in check?
HUSSEIN KAMEL: Torture has risen to a brutal level that is unimaginable. There are many allegations that were fabricated so that officials could seize peoples' lands or their homes. I know of places where people were executed in the thousands. They were buried in mass graves; 4,600 young people have died as a result of one fabricated claim. They called them through the loudspeakers of the mosques and they were accused of trying to form armed opposition groups. They were gathered together and shot. This is a fact (349K AIFF sound or 349K WAV sound).
SADLER: What does Saddam Hussein fear most of all? Does he fear a coup, an assassination attempt?
HUSSEIN KAMEL: There were no real attempts to kill him. There have been a number of plots to overthrow him, but they were nipped in the bud.
SADLER: Let's talk about Uday, the president's son. Do you contemplate the possibility that one day Uday might challenge his father for power?
HUSSEIN KAMEL: Everybody, including President Saddam, knows these are Uday's intentions. He has limitless ambitions until he achieves absolute power.
In other topics covered in the interview, Hussein Kamel insisted that a factory bombed by the allies, who said it was a chemical weapons plant, really was a baby milk factory, as the Iraqis said at the time. And he said that a bomb shelter in which hundreds of civilians died when it was targeted had no military significance.
Speaking about his own future, the high-profile defector said, "I know the regime every day will try to find Hussein Kamel. They know that I am serious about opposing Saddam Hussein." Still, the wayward son-in-law maintains that he has won the bigger battle: "Whatever Saddam Hussein tries to do to me, even if he wants to kill me, I don't think it will equal the fate he has suffered as a result of my defection."
In contrast, the defection has benefited another high-profile leader, Jordan's King Hussein. Since Hussein Kamel's exodus, the King has positioned himself as a champion of reform in Iraq, openly criticizing Baghdad's leadership. It also has enabled him to improve his prestige in the West and mend fences with the Gulf states after his refusal to help them turn back the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.