Published January 21, 2003
This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, Jan. 20, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: The Los Angeles Times reports from the Indian capital New Delhi that Iraq in recent years has secretly and illegally been importing through an Indian company specialized chemicals and other ingredients vital to the manufacturing of certain banned weapons. One man who thinks this a major development is Mansoor Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani heritage, who is trained as an engineer as a member of council on foreign relations, and is a FOX News analyst on issues involving national security terrorism and politics. Mansoor, welcome. Nice to have you.
MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you, Brit.
HUME: Tell me, first of all, basically, what this story reports, your view of the credibility of the story and your view of the importance of it.
IJAZ: Well, I think, let's start with credibility, for I think it was very well reported because it is in fact, based almost entirely on the revelations from court documents that were filed by the Ministry of Finance in India against the company that was charged with violations of export, control laws and other things of that nature.
Now, what they are accused of doing, this is an engineering company in India, a sort of an obscure engineering company, they're accused of essentially sending 10 shipments between 1998 and 2001 to Iraq that contained atomized aluminum, which is almost exclusively used in preparing rocket propellants -- the fuel for rockets. And then also titanium centrifugal pumps that were used at one of the big chlorine manufacturing plants in Iraq. And what U.S. intelligence has confirmed that the amount of chlorine produced in those plants was about three times, and I want to emphasize that's a lot of chlorine, three times what would be needed to handle the average water flows in Iraq on a given day or a month period.
HUME: To what purpose would this -- would these materials be put? What do you use them for?
IJAZ: Right. Let me lay this out in a picture, if I could because I think that is very important for the American people to understand, that as we get closer to the time where we have to make a decision on Iraq and what to do with it, that you're starting to see a very disturbing picture emerge. Three, four days ago, we saw the canisters and rockets themselves with empty shells on top of them found in Baghdad.
Now, we find that the rocket propellants that have been prepared for the past four years. What does Saddam need rocket propellants lands for? That's a banned substance on the list. And then you have chlorine being produced at very high volumes can easily be converted into chlorine gas, put on the -- in the canisters on empty shelves and as Tony Snow said to Secretary Rumsfeld this weekend, are we just connecting dots or making a case? Well, let me now lay it out very clearly. We have both connected the dots and what we need to be clear about is we don't want that last dot to be connected in New York or Washington.
HUME: Now, is this, in your view, likely to be an isolated occurrence? If they found these shipments from this particular company, I think the story said it was some $800,000 worth, that the world will dismiss this as sort of a one-off situation or is there more to come in your judgment?
IJAZ: No, I -- I think, in fact, what this demonstrates is a blueprint by which Iraq has secretly procured, you know, whatever types of elements and agents it needed to run its weapons of mass destruction program. Particularly on the chemical weapons scene around the world and I would say that this will now give a lot of evidentiary road maps to other intelligence agencies around the world looking at exactly how Iraq has done its procurement program in the past.
HUME: Now, is it fair to say, then, that the amounts of these materials make it unmistakable that they could not have been merely been used for otherwise legitimate or peaceful purposes?
IJAZ: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is no dual- use capability here at all. There was no reason for them to have atomized aluminum to make rocket propellant. There was no reason for them to have three times as much chlorine chemical that can by the way, can be used in developing other chemical weapons as well; it's a precursor agent, in addition to being used as chlorine gas.
HUME: What is a precursor agent?
IJAZ: A precursor meaning that it is the first step in building a more complex nerve agent or chemical agent of a different type.
HUME: All right. Now, this -- we had a graphic earlier that showed the geographical relationship between India and Iraq. But I gather this -- this chemical materials, they followed a rather circuitous route, am I correct?
IJAZ: They did. In fact, the way I understand it took place is that this is now -- in fact you bring up an important point. What essentially happened here is that the chemicals and the centrifugal pumps went from New Delhi to either Jordan or Dubai before going on to Iraq and I spoke to senior Indian intelligence officials over the weekend before the story broke and one of the grave concerns they have is Al Qaeda may have actually financed, we don't know this for sure yet, but al Qaeda may have financed the movement of the chemicals from India to Dubai where they have these enormous cash riches and this, you know, unregulated Havala system to be able to move cash around, and that's maybe how the payments were made for some of these elements that were transferred.
HUME: So that would establish some link at least with al Qaeda and the regime in Iraq, correct?
IJAZ: Not just that. But now if you look at what has happened in London last week with the ricin agents that are going on and the investigations into their connections, not just to al Qaeda, but to maybe...in the north of Iraq, a very disturbing picture is beginning to emerge about what this is all about, and I think the American people need to keep that in mind as we make this tough decision on what Iraq -- what we have to do with Iraq.
HUME: Mansoor Ijaz, very good to have you, sir. Thank you very much.
IJAZ: Thank you for having me, Brit.
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