This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," Sept. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Who is helping North Korea get nuclear weapons? And what about Iran? Is Iran building a nuclear bomb? And who might be helping them? Our next guest has had access to unpublished classified intelligence documents and spoken to countless senior U.S. officials and he's written a new book called "Treachery," which details much of this top-secret information. Washington Times national security reporter Bill Gertz, of course, is a regular guest here on "On the Record," and he joins us tonight in D.C. with his brand-new book.
Congratulations on the new book.
BILL GERTZ, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's talk about these countries. Let's start with North Korea. Does North Korea have a nuclear bomb?
GERTZ: Actually, they are believed to have several. In the talks, in the six-party talks, at one point, the North Korean negotiator Ri Gun, told a U.S. official that their bombs were so big, it would be difficult for them to dismantle them. So we know they have a few. We know they're working on more. And the big question is: Are they going to be able to fashion a nuclear warhead small enough to put on a missile?
VAN SUSTEREN: And are they at that point?
GERTZ: It's not clear at this point because we don't have good intelligence in there, as this latest mystery explosion shows. The alarming thing is in Libya, they found Chinese-language documents that were sent to Pakistan on how to fashion a small nuclear warhead for a missile. If they went to Libya, there's a very good chance they went to Iran and North Korea.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, who is helping North Korea, if anybody? I mean, to the best that we're able to figure out.
GERTZ: Well, there's a number of nations. The current nuclear crisis, as I show in the book, really began when they found a North Korean procurement agent buying specialty steel tubes in Germany and that this was really the beginning of the understanding of their covert uranium enrichment program. That led eventually to the confrontation in Pyongyang, where the official there said, "Yes, we have this program, and we're going ahead with uranium enrichment."
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the mushroom cloud that was there last week — any idea what that means?
GERTZ: I talked with a U.S. official today, and a no on that. Still a mystery. They don't think it was a nuclear blast. On the other hand, they're not buying the North Korean government explanation that it's related to some hydroelectric project. At this point, they have theories that it could have been a missile blast, an ammunition dump, because there's military facilities in the region, or it may even have been a forest fire.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let's got to a little bit different part of the world: Iran. Who's helping Iran?
GERTZ: Iran is a big nuclear threat. The main supplier there are the Russians and, to a lesser extent, the Chinese. Chinese are supplying missile technology. Bush administration is about to sanction China again for missile-related sales to Iran. But the big issue is this nuclear program.
I uncovered the fact that the Iranians have a separate committee that's set up for denial and deception, so what they're doing is, they have a two-track policy. On the one hand, you'll hear statements every day from Iranian officials, "We have a peaceful nuclear program. It's for electricity generation..."
VAN SUSTEREN: But they have lots of oil. They don't need that electricity. They don't...
GERTZ: Like Rumsfeld said, "They need nuclear power like they need sand."
Basically, on the other track, they're working covertly. They have a number of secret facilities. They haven't been honest with the International Atomic Energy Agency. And this is a mounting problem that's probably going to get worse before it gets better.
VAN SUSTEREN: Your book has generated somewhat of a spat between you and the French ambassador to the United States. What's going on between the two of you?
GERTZ: Obviously, the book is very harsh on France. It was the No. 3 supplier of weapons to Iraq. There is good, solid intelligence that Iraqi henchmen of Saddam Hussein escaped Iraq with French passports. They found a number of blank passports. There are strong feelings and beliefs within the Pentagon that the French were covertly aiding Saddam Hussein's regime.
VAN SUSTEREN: And that's in the 1990s, in violation of all the sanctions and all the rules.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were we doing that at all in the '90s? I know that in the '80s, we were supplying Saddam. He was our ally against Iran.
GERTZ: Right. There was a tilt during the Iran-Iraq war and that was based on the fact that the Iranians had taken our people hostage. Really what's going on with the French: This has been a longstanding arms relationship, lots of weapons, rockets, missiles, helicopters. And that stuff's being used now by the insurgents to attack Iraqis and American forces.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do American companies have clean hands on this? As we go after the French for doing this, how do we look?
GERTZ: Hardly any of the almost one million tons of weapons found in Iraq are American origin.
VAN SUSTEREN: Some are?
GERTZ: Some are, but they were captured from the Iranians, who had gotten them under the Shah of Iran, when we had a relationship. There are 23 different American companies right now that are under investigation. A couple have been prosecuted. So there has been some. But like I say, the lion's share came from France, Russia and China.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's go to Russia and the recent terrorism there. What can you tell me about that?
GERTZ: Well, they are looking very strongly at an Al Qaeda connection to the Chechen terrorists involved. Obviously, there's been a lot of semantic back-and-forth about whether these people were rebels or separatists or whatever. It's clear they were terrorists. They're part of the Al Qaeda network.
VAN SUSTEREN: What makes them part of the Al Qaeda ? There is the Chechen rebels, the separatists and there have been a series of Chechen terrorist acts. What's the connection to suggest it's Al Qaeda?
GERTZ: There's no question that the Chechens are deeply connected to this Al Qaeda Islamist extremist network. I've seen intelligence documents when I was doing research for this book about how they brought some of these terrorists to Saudi Arabia and were having interactions with some of the pro-bin Laden terrorist elements in that country.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Bill, thanks. The name of the book is "Treachery," brand-new, No. 7 on Amazon, I might add. So Bill, thank you very much for joining us.
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