Before he was hanged, Saddam Hussein told the FBI that he let the world believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction because he didn't want his greatest enemy, Iran, to discover Iraq's weaknesses, according to newly released FBI interview notes.
The detailed interviews, spanning February to June 2004, were obtained by the National Security Archive and posted on its Web site Wednesday.
In them, Hussein told FBI special agent George Piro that he viewed Iran and its "fanatic" mullahs as a bigger threat than the United States and thought, mistakenly, that his country could have "absorbed" another United States strike. He was less confident about a strike from Iran.
"Hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from a attack from Iran," the notes said. Hussein's biggest concern was that Iran would try to annex part of southern Iraq.
In a June 11, 2004, interview -- months after his December 2003 capture -- Piro wrote that Hussein said his concern about Iran was the "major factor" as to why he did not allow United Nations inspectors into his country.
"Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq's weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow U.N. inspectors back into Iraq," the notes said. "In his opinion, the U.N. inspectors would have directly identified to the Iranians where to inflict maximum damage to Iraq."
In a Feb. 13, 2004, interview, Hussein said his country destroyed its weapons, and suggested that another reason he blocked U.N. inspectors was because he was concerned they wanted all their expenses and accommodations paid for by Iraq.
"By God, if I had such weapons, I would have used them in the fight against the United States," he said, according to the FBI notes.
Hussein said the United States was "looking for a reason to do something," and that Iraqi leaders made decisions that gave the United States an "opening" for war.
The non-governmental National Security Archive obtained the summaries through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Hussein was hanged in December 2006.