BAGHDAD, Iraq – Since the U.S. military has started e-mailing thousands of Iraqi leaders with messages -- trying to get them to defect and trying to get them to break away from Saddam Hussein -- they have received many return e-mails, military sources told Fox News.
Some of the replies, the sources said, "are very encouraging."
The communications are part of the continuing psychological operations ongoing in Iraq by the U.S. military.
U.S. officials had already said the Pentagon has been sending e-mails to Iraqi officers warning them against following orders from Saddam to use chemical or germ weapons against U.S. or allied forces.
A U.N. spokesman said Saturday that U.N. arms inspectors may start inviting Iraqi scientists suspected of being linked to weapons programs for private interviews this week, a step Washington sees as key to uncovering Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
U.N. spokesman Hiro Ueki said U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection experts may be ready to begin asking Baghdad this week to let them privately interview Iraqi scientists after they finish studying Iraq's 12,000-page weapons declaration and a list of names of experts involved in arms programs.
"These things take time," Ueki told The Associated Press in Baghdad, adding that he had no details if or when U.N. experts would ask to take Iraqi scientists abroad for interviews.
Last month, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency interviewed two Iraqi scientists, who requested that Iraqi minders be present during the meetings.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear agency, has complained that inspectors haven't been able to talk to scientists without Iraqi officials being present.
"We are not able to have interviews in Iraq in private and that does not show the proactive cooperation we seek," ElBaradei said Thursday after briefing the U.N. Security Council on the progress of inspections and assessments of Iraq's weapons declaration.
Iraq is unlikely to refuse fresh requests for private interviews with its scientists but has indicated it could be less than keen on its scientists going abroad for interviews.
Weapons inspections resumed Nov. 27 under a toughened U.N. resolution that let inspectors interview Iraqi scientists in private or even abroad, in a bid to encourage them to expose hidden programs. The inspectors want to determine if Iraq still holds weapons of mass destruction in violation of U.N. resolutions.
Iraq denies it possesses such weapons, but America and Britain insist it does and have threatened to disarm Iraq by force.
In Kuwait, Deputy Prime Minister Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah said Saturday he hoped Iraqis topple Saddam to prevent war. Kuwait has not before officially raised its desire for a coup in Baghdad.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bret Baier currently serves as anchor of FOX News Channel's (FNC) Special Report with Bret Baier (weeknights 6-7PM/ET), the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot. Based in Washington, DC, he joined the network in 1998 as the first reporter in the Atlanta bureau.