Iraqi Official Says "Nothing to Add" to Arms Declaration
Iraqi Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin told the Associated Press that he disagreed with the criticisms expressed last week by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“We know very well, and they know very well, that we have no weapons of mass destruction,” Amin said.
Amin said the Iraqi government is “willing to reach an understanding” with top U.N. officials, but added, “we have nothing to add, really, of new information, because the information we gave is the real and complete information.”
Last week, Blix told the U.N. Security Council that Iraq’s weapons declaration contained information gaps and little new material on its programs. Those alleged inaccuracies led the U.S. to declare Iraq in “material breach” of the U.N. Security Council’s most recent Iraq resolution.
As the inspection process continues in Iraq, U.N. experts interviewed a senior Iraqi nuclear scientist at a Baghdad university Tuesday. The IAEA began interviewing Iraqi scientists on Monday and officials say they are considering taking scientists out of Iraq as part of the search for Iraqi weapons development sites.
Amin said the Iraqi government would not threaten any scientist who prefers to be interviewed outside of the country about Iraq’s weapons programs. The latest U.N. resolution gives inspectors the right to fly scientists and their families out of Iraq in order to alleviate any pressure they may face from the Iraqi government.
An Iraqi scientist recently interviewed by inspectors in Baghdad told reporters Tuesday that he decided not to be interviewed outside the country, preferring instead to have Iraqi officials with him during the meeting.
“The interview [with the inspectors] … was very objective, the discussion was very friendly and the questions were mainly about what has been done or any progress which has been achieved in Iraq since 1998,” said Sabah Abdel-Nour, who teaches at Baghdad’s University of Technology and said he was a former member of Iraq’s nuclear program.
“I explained to them all that I know and that we do not have anything to hide,” he added.
Meanwhile, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Tuesday that U.N. inspections, if conducted fairly, would expose American “lies” and prove that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.
In a Christmas Eve message delivered on state television, Saddam said that an “American-Zionist campaign” was being launched and questioned whether the U.N. resolution to disarm Iraq could proceed as planned with the threat of a U.S.-led war against Iraq growing.
“We are confident that the outcome of the inspections will be a great shock to the United States and will expose its lies, if things remain on a technical and professional course with no hidden agendas,” Saddam said.