NEW YORK – Dr. Richard Spertzel, a member of the team inspecting Iraq's clandestine weapons efforts, told FOX News that Saddam Hussein was actively developing disguised aerosol weapons containing the nerve gas sarin that could be used for assassination or mass murder.
Spertzel, who offers his comments in a special FOX News investigation airing Sunday at 9 p.m. EST — "United Nations Blood Money: Kofi Annan Under Fire" — said Saddam intended to put them in perfume bottles to be placed on department store shelves in the U.S. and Europe.
Following is a partial transcript of his interview with FOX News' Jonathan Hunt:
On Saddam's aerosolized sarin and ricin:
FOX News' Jonathan Hunt: What kind of damage could that do?
Dr. Richard Spertzel: Released into a closed area the limitation would be how many people are there.
Hunt: So literally you could walk into Madison Square Garden, squeeze that aerosol, killing hundreds, thousands?
Spertzel: Absolutely. If that were released in a closed [place] such as Madison Square Garden or even some of your smaller closed shopping malls, it would have a devastating effect. Killing hundreds or thousands.
Spertzel said Saddam was also planning to put the poisons on department store shelves across the United States and Europe.
Spertzel: Some of the photographs that were obtained from this same laboratory had multiple different shapes of glass spray bottles, perfume spray bottles, presumably to mimic different brand names. Can you imagine somebody going into a department store and spraying a little bit of a perfume to see whether they like the scent, only instead of perfume they're getting a face full of sarin? That would kill within, within a few minutes.
...If this were to appear at a couple different locations imagine the economic impact in the U.S. People would be afraid to buy anything.
Spertzel said Saddam's regime was working on this plot right up until Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Spertzel: That was, that was being actively pursued as late as March 2003.
Spertzel said Oil-for-Food and Saddam's secret weapons program were intertwined.
Spertzel: The two are tied together. They [UN officials] let the world down. No question about that.
Spertzel said he and many others in the U.N. knew Oil-for-Food was a disaster, right from the beginning.
Spertzel: We used to joke about the Oil-for-Food people in Baghdad. The Oil-for-Food people spent most of their time in the cafeteria, as opposed to being out in field making sure that the material was going to the locations that it was supposed to.
Hunt: So the whole U.N. Oil for Food team was something of a joke?
Spertzel: It certainly was among the UMSCOM inspectors.
Hunt: So everybody knew this, within the U.N.?
Spertzel: It was such common knowledge it had to be known.
Weapons inspectors on Spertzel's team took it upon themselves to make sure any shipments that might have military applications didn't end up with Saddam's military.
Hunt: So you were in Iraq, as a U.N. weapons inspector, watching other U.N. contractors working on the Oil-for-Food program, simply not doing their jobs.
Spertzel: Absolutely. Our resident inspection team was tasked with basically doing the work that should have been done by the Oil-for-Food people.