Jared Israel on 'How the Lies of Scott Ritter Reveal
the Strategic Goals of the Bizarre Iraq War' - - Part 2

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Transcript of September 30th CNN program where Scott Ritter is quoted saying Iraq retains nuclear bomb capabilities

[Posted 13 May 2004]


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September 30, 1998; Wednesday 1:24 pm Eastern Time


Transcript # 98093005V13


TYPE: LIVE REPORT/INTERVIEW; SECTION: News; International; LENGTH: 1222 words; HEADLINE:  U.N. Receives Conflicting Reports on Iraqi Nuclear Weapons; GUESTS: LEXIS-NEXIS Related Topics Full Article  Related Topics Overview 

BYLINE:  Lou Waters, Richard Roth

HIGHLIGHT:  The United Nations Security Council is assessing conflicting reports on Iraq's ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.  Recently resigned weapons inspector Scott Ritter maintains that Iraq only lacks enriched uranium or plutonium to complete several devices.  Ritter charges that Iraq's nuclear program is much more developed than the International Atomic Energy Agency is reporting to the U.N.


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A report in today's "Washington Post" says Iraq has the shells for three or four nuclear weapons but lacks the enriched uranium cores.

That report indicates information on the devices was relayed twice to the United States by United Nations' weapons inspectors.

Senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth joins us now with the latest on this, and an appearance by an Iraqi diplomat before the U.N. today -- Richard.

RICHARD ROSS, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the United Nations, the U.N. weapons inspectors, are not commenting at all on the "Washington Post" report, which says that the U.S. government was aware of reports from Scott Ritter, the former U.N. arms inspector, that Iraq had key devices which could be used to make nuclear bombs, provided Baghdad got the enriched uranium first.

The world was already informed of this by Scott Ritter, who resigned recently from his post.  In his opinion, in Ritter's opinion, Iraq had a much more developed nuclear program than the International Atomic Agency is reporting to the U.N.

Ritter said this a few weeks ago to a congressional committee in Washington:


SCOTT RITTER, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: The Special Commission had received sensitive information of some credibility, which indicated that Iraq had the components to assemble three implosion type devices, minus the fissal (ph) material and that if Iraq were able to achieve -- or to obtain fissal material of the quality and of the physical -- proper physical properties conducive to such a weapon, then they could assemble three nuclear devices in a very short period of time.


ROTH: Ritter later said it would be just a matter of days, in his opinion.

This is Richard Butler, the chairman of the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq, on his way into a commissioners meeting today.  He flatly refused any comment on the "Washington Post" report.  Butler will be meeting privately with Secretary-General Annan later today.

He'll also be delivering a report to the U.N. Security Council next week, summing up where his mission stands.  And where it stands is almost nowhere.  Iraq is refusing to cooperate on any new inspections by Butler's team.

The secretary-general has also asked Iraq to comply first with the Security Council resolution so that there can be, perhaps, this comprehensive review, an enticement to the regime of Saddam Hussein to allow the inspectors to get back to work.

As for Iraq, the foreign minister was addressing the U.N. General Assembly today and there were harsh words for the U.S. government and the chairman of the Special Commission Richard Butler.

The Iraqi foreign minister says the U.S. and Mr. Butler are dominating and misleading the Security Council in order to keep sanctions on the people of Iraq.


MOHAMMED SAID AL-SAHAF, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The Special Commission and its chairman operate under the influence of an arrogant, powerful state that is pursuing political ulterior motives against Iraq.  These are motives that have no relevance whatsoever to Security Council and is irrelevant to Iraq.


ROTH: Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, was again in the building.  He listened in the General Assembly to his delegation's speech.  He met individually with members of the Security Council, namely the ambassador from Britain.  They had an exchange of views; no agreement, certainly, there.

Mr. Aziz will be in New York throughout the week.  It's not expected that there's going to be any compromise right now, regarding this latest diplomatic deadlock -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth in New York.

Joining us to discuss further this situation is David Albright. He is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, also a former nuclear inspector in Iraq.

What do you make of this apparent disconnect between the Scott Ritter report and what the International Atomic Energy Agency is saying?  Is the Ritter report accurate?  You've seen some of this information.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INST. FOR SCIENCE & INTL. SECURITY: It's hard to say how accurate it is.  I think it's somewhat exaggerated, that often the information from defectors is tough to corroborate.

Now, leaving that aside, I think for a while there's been a common assessment that Iraq is not far from being able to make a nuclear explosive or a nuclear weapon.  It lacks the highly enriched uranium necessary to make it work, but it's had seven years since the Gulf War to overcome bottlenecks in its program and acquire items and machine tools to be able to accomplish its goal.

WATERS: Say there's a bit of hyperbole, but if Iraq had these so-called implosion devices, if they had those ready and all they needed was the highly enriched uranium, how significant would that be?

ALBRIGHT: It's very troubling that Iraq was not that far from having a nuclear weapon at the time of the Persian Gulf War, and that was bad enough.  And it's been very hard over the last 7 years to keep Iraq from making progress down its path.

It has certainly been stymied, it's lacked the capability to put back together its nuclear weapons program.  But at the same time, it's developed its ability to procure things overseas.

WATERS: And how or where, when could Iran get its hands on this highly enriched uranium?

ALBRIGHT: The biggest concern is with the former Soviet Union. The protection of key nuclear explosive materials is inadequate in Russia, and while the United States has helped a considerable amount to strengthen those controls in Russia, it's still not enough.  And the biggest threat is really that Iraq would penetrate the Russian program and obtain enough material to make one or several nuclear weapons.

WATERS: If they have these implosion devices, and got their hands on some highly enriched uranium, then what?  Would they necessarily have a bomb or is it a bit more complicated than that?

ALBRIGHT: They would still have to turn the highly enriched uranium or plutonium into nuclear weapons components.  And it might take several weeks to a few months to accomplish that.

It also might -- they may have to finish some components.  And so -- but certainly within several months to a year, they could have nuclear explosives and that would be very threatening...

WATERS: Is there a way for the United States or any international agency to detect what's going on over there in this regard?

ALBRIGHT: It's very hard to detect the importation of elicit highly enriched uranium or to detect the secret construction or development of nuclear weapons themselves.

And, in fact, it's imperative at this point that inspections actually be improved and that there's been several efforts in the last year to strengthen the nuclear inspections.  And those efforts are now more important than ever.

WATERS: I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about that.

David Albright with the Institute for Science and International Security, we appreciate it so much, your joining us today.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.


Copyright 1998 Cable News Network

All Rights Reserved 

Posted for educational purposes - for Fair Use Only

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Footnotes and Further Reading

[1] Jared Israel on 'How the Lies of Scott Ritter Reveal
the Strategic Goals of the Bizarre Iraq War' - A Series

"Part 1: Hawk-to-Dove Scott Ritter challenges Emperor's
Clothes to Prove he's a Liar. EC accepts," by Jared Israel, at

"Part 2: The Source of the Claim that Iraq had Nuclear Weapons was... Scott Ritter," by Jared Israel at

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