Report & Interview on Ritter's Iraq Speec

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Posted by andreas from ( on Sunday, September 08, 2002 at 6:49PM :

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1] [Report:] Former weapons inspector: Iraq not a threat
2] [Interview:] Ex-inspector: Iraq not pursuing nuclear arms

1] Former weapons inspector: Iraq not a threat

Source: IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency
Date: Sept 08, 2002

September 8, 2002 Posted: 10:00 AM EDT (1400 GMT)

Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter says U.S. military action
against Iraq would be a mistake.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter told the
Iraqi National Assembly on Sunday that his country, the United States,
"seems to be on the verge of making a historical mistake" in its calls for
ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Ritter is in Baghdad as a private citizen to voice his criticism of the
U.S. threat of military action against Iraq. He looked for weapons in Iraq
from 1991 until 1998, when he was called back to the United States two days
before a U.S. attack on Iraq.

Ritter said Sunday that Iraq was not a threat to the United States.

"Iraq is not a sponsor of the kind of terror perpetrated against the United
States on September 11 and in fact is active in suppressing the sort of
fundamental extremism that characterizes those who attacked the United
States on that horrible day," Ritter said.

In an interview after the speech, Ritter denied allegations that the Iraqis
had interfered with the inspection process. (Read the interview)

U.S. President Bush is trying to garner international support for military
action against Saddam, who he said harbors weapons of mass destruction and
the intent to use them. (Full story)

Bush is expected to issue an ultimatum to the Iraqi leader -- either allow
weapons inspectors unfettered access or face unspecified consequences --
during a speech Thursday to the U.N. General Assembly.

In his address Sunday, Ritter denied that Iraq possessed any weapons of
mass destruction but acknowledged that concerns exist about the country's
weapons programs.

"These concerns are almost exclusively technical in nature and do not
overcome the reality that Iraq, during nearly seven years of continuous
inspection activity by the United Nations, had been certified as being
disarmed to a 90 [percent] to 95 percent level," he said.

He warned that if the United States unilaterally launches any military
action against Iraq, it would "forever change the political dynamic which
has governed the world since the end of the second World War, namely the
foundation of international law as set forth in the United Nations charter,
which calls for the peaceful resolution of problems between nations."

Ritter resigned as chief weapons inspector for the United Nations in August
1998, saying that the U.N. Security Council and U.S. government had fatally
undermined his team's attempts to locate and eliminate Iraq's weapons of
mass destruction.

He has said U.S. intelligence agents used the weapons inspectors as a cover
for spying and destroyed the inspection teams' credibility.

Before his speech, Ritter said that the Bush administration was "using
weapons inspections as an excuse" to go to war with Iraq.

"One of the problems with President Bush issuing that kind of ultimatum is
that he has no credibility," Ritter said. "Members of his administration
have said inspections don't matter.

"Members of his administration have said that, even if they get back in
Iraq and succeed in disarming Iraq, that they're still going to seek regime

2] Ex-inspector: Iraq not pursuing nuclear arms

Source: IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency
Date: Sept 08, 2002

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing
interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

(CNN) --With increasing talk of U.S. military action to oust Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein, a former U.N. weapons inspector spoke out Sunday
against President Bush's position.

Scott Ritter, who is an American, addressed the Iraqi National Assembly on
Sunday and said the United States "seems to be on the verge of making a
historical mistake." He said the Bush administration has not substantiated
its case that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

After addressing the Iraqi representatives, Ritter spoke with CNN's Miles
O'Brien from Baghdad, Iraq.

O'BRIEN: You seem very certain that there is no evidence that Saddam
Hussein is engaged in an effort to build weapons of mass destruction. How
can you be so certain?

RITTER: What I'm very certain of is that the Bush administration has not
provided any evidence to substantiate its allegations that Saddam Hussein's
regime is currently pursuing weapons of mass destruction programs or is in
actual possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Based upon my experience as a weapons inspector from 1991 to 1998, while we
had serious concerns about unaccounted aspects of Iraq's weapons program,
we did ascertain a 90 [percent] to 95 percent level of disarmament that
included all of the production equipment and means of production used by
Iraq to produce these weapons.

So if Iraq has weapons today, like President Bush says, clearly they would
have had to reconstitute these capabilities since December 1998. And this
is something that the Bush administration needs to make a better case for,
especially before we talk about going to war.

O'BRIEN: Just to be clear, while you've been there in Iraq, you've had no
firsthand looks at any of these suspected sites where weapons of mass
destruction might be produced?

RITTER: That's absolutely correct. Look, I'm not here as a weapons
inspector. The only people that can make that kind of finding of
disarmament are weapons inspectors mandated by the [U.N.] Security Council.
Right now, these inspectors are not at work here in Iraq.

And one of the things I made absolutely clear to the Iraqi representatives
[Sunday] -- and I will continue to do so with any government officials I
have the opportunity to meet with -- is that Iraq must allow the
unconditional return of weapons inspectors and grant them unfettered access
to sites designated by the weapons inspectors for inspection.

O'BRIEN: When you say that to them -- that it's important to allow these
inspections to resume -- what's the reaction?

RITTER: I think the Iraqi government understands that if they do not allow
the unconditional return of inspectors with unfettered access, that war is
all but inevitable -- that there will be nothing that can stay the hand
that President Bush and [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair seem prepared
to unleash on Iraq.

And so that's why I've proposed that a mechanism be put forward that
provides a confidence-building measure for the Iraqi government so they can
allow these inspectors to return unconditionally and give them unfettered

Let's keep in mind that the reason why inspectors are out of Iraq isn't
because Iraq kicked them out, but rather they were ordered out by the
United States after the United States manipulated the inspection process to
create a confrontation that led to Operation Desert Fox and then used
intelligence information gathered by inspectors to target Iraqi government
sites, including the security of Saddam Hussein.

So it's going to take awhile to convince Iraqis that they should once again
trust inspectors. But frankly, they have no choice.

O'BRIEN: But the situation had become untenable for those inspectors, it's
worth reminding our viewers. You're taking that a bit out of context. The
inspectors, at that juncture, weren't really able to do their job properly,
were they?

RITTER: No, absolutely false. The inspectors were able to do their task of
disarming Iraq without any obstruction by Iraq.

Let's keep in mind that from 1994 to 1998, the weapons inspectors carried
out ongoing monitoring inspections of the totality of Iraq's industrial
infrastructure. And at no time did Iraq obstruct this work.

The obstruction only came when weapons inspectors sought to gain access to
sites that Iraq deemed to be sensitive. And many of these sites --
including intelligence facilities, security facilities, Saddam Hussein's
palaces -- had nothing whatsoever to do with weapons of mass destruction.

So we've got to put this in its proper perspective. Yes, there were
obstructions. But this obstruction had little, if anything, to do with
actual disarmament.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this though, Mr. Ritter. It seems that sometimes we
avoid seeing the forest for the trees here. Is there any doubt in your
mind -- taking aside what you've seen firsthand or heard from the Iraqis --
is there any doubt in your mind that Saddam Hussein would love to get hold
of nuclear weapons?

RITTER: I think we have to be careful about trying to compare with what
Saddam Hussein's regime was trying to do in the past with the current
situation today.

Saddam Hussein is a man who's very interested in the continued survival of
Saddam Hussein. And I believe he recognizes that any effort by himself or
his government to reacquire any aspect of weapons of mass destruction --
let alone nuclear weapons -- would be the equivalent of taking a suicide
pill. It would invite the immediate, harsh response of the international
community and would result in his ultimate demise.

So, yes, I truly believe that Saddam Hussein today is not seeking to
acquire not only a nuclear weapon but weapons of mass destruction of any

O'BRIEN: I guess the concern is though that we're perhaps in an era which
invites the necessity of a pre-emptive strike, and that perhaps the only
smoking gun evidence we will ever see here in the West of nuclear weapons,
weapons of mass destruction, might well be a mushroom cloud. The stakes are
pretty high, aren't they? Isn't it time to act differently, perhaps?

RITTER: No, I agree. The stakes are very high. That's why it's imperative
that the United States acts in accordance with its obligations under
international law. We are a signatory of the United Nations charter, and in
doing so we've undertaken to respect international law, especially in
regard to issues pertaining to war.

If the United States shreds international law, rips up the United Nations
charter and intervenes against Iraq unilaterally, we will be redefining the
entire way the world chooses to deal with situations of this sort. What
will then stop India and Pakistan from going to war? What will stop China
from intervening in Taiwan? There will be no guarantees. There will be no
mechanism. We will be unleashing chaos.

This is a bigger fear than any hypothetical concept of an Iraqi mushroom
cloud exploding anywhere in the world. This is a reality. An Iraqi nuclear
weapon, at this point in time, is sheer speculation.

O'BRIEN: I'm sure you've heard the criticism that you are acting in a
disloyal manner toward the United States. How do you respond?

RITTER: I think I made it very clear that I'm acting as a fervent patriot
who loves my country. As an American citizen, I have an obligation to speak
out when I feel my government is acting in a manner which is inconsistent
with the principles of our founding fathers.

We have a Constitution which says we will abide by the rule of law. We are
signatories of the United Nations charter. Therefore, we are to adhere
ourselves to the United Nations charter. And I see my government drifting
decisively away from this.

So I feel I have no other choice, as an American citizen, than to stand up
and speak out. It's the most patriotic thing I can do.

-- andreas
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