Iraq: U.N. can interview jailed scientist
March 25, 1998
Web posted at: 12:10 p.m. EST (1710 GMT)
In this story:
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq will allow United Nations arms
inspectors to meet a top Iraqi germ warfare scientist who was
detained for trying to flee the country, an Iraqi source said
"If the biological team wants to meet him, it can do so. The
right of UNSCOM (the U.N. Special Commission charged with
disarming Iraq) will not be affected by his detention," said
the source, who asked not to be named.
"All the documents in his possession have been handed over
to the Special Commission 10 days ago," the source added.
UNSCOM said on Tuesday Baghdad recently handed over a batch
of documents said to have been taken from Nasser al-Hindawi,
who pioneered Iraq's biological warfare program.
The source said U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter, whom Iraq
had accused of spying, "expressed appreciation for this step
through the Special Commission."
The suspension of Ritter's inspections two months ago sparked
a crisis over access to certain Iraqi locations, including
eight "presidential sites."
Additional U.N. inspectors arrive in Baghdad Wednesday
The crisis was defused last month when U.N.
Secretary- General Kofi Annan struck a deal with Baghdad
guaranteeing U.N. arms inspectors full access to all Iraqi
A 58-member U.N. team arrived on Wednesday in Baghdad to
prepare for the inspections, a U.N. spokeswoman said.
The group, led by UNSCOM deputy chief Charles Duelfer, an
American, will be accompanied by 20 diplomats who arrived a
It was up to the weapons experts to decide when they would
Of the detained scientist, the Iraqi source said: "The
documents seized from him were scientific reports he himself
had taken part in preparing when he was working within the
past biological program."
He said that visiting U.N. inspections teams had met with
him "tens of times."
"Nasser Hindawi was arrested because he violated laws related
to traveling abroad. And he is accused of keeping with him
documents relating to Iraq's past biological program," the
A letter to UNSCOM earlier this month from Iraqi Oil Minister
Amer Mohammed Rashid did not say when Hindawi was arrested or
to where he was planning to defect.
But UNSCOM was given a couple of hundred pages of documents
said to have been in his possession.
Rashid is one of Iraq's top contacts with UNSCOM and was
previously a senior official of Iraq's Military
Industrialization Commission and was closely involved in the
development of its weapons programs.
UNSCOM spokesman Ewen Buchanan said the documents included
many that UNSCOM had previously known about. It was not known
whether others contained any significant revelations.
Hindawi was involved in the establishment of Iraq's
biological warfare program in the 1980s.
Reuters contributed to this report.