Former Iraqi Nuclear Scientist Gazi George

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 17, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST:  Tonight: A roadside bomb containing sarin gas nerve agent explodes in Iraq. One of Saddam's former bombmakers joins us in just a moment.  But first, Fox's Orlando Salinas is in Baghdad with the latest -- Orlando.

ORLANDO SALINAS, FOX CORRESPONDENT:  Greta, it is the first time any nerve agent has been found in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition made its case for war more than a year ago, U.S. military officials saying, indeed, they have found sarin nerve gas.  They say, indeed, it is the real thing.  Take a listen.


BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, COALITION OPS:  The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found.  The round had been rigged as an IED, which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy.  A detonation occurred before the IED could be rendered inoperable.  This produced a very small dispersal of agent.


SALINAS:  Two U.S. soldiers treated for what's being called a minor exposure.  Military says those guys are going to be just fine.

Also, here in Baghdad, a punch in the gut for the coalition, terrorists tracking a political contingent on its way to coalition headquarters in central Baghdad known as the Green Zone.  A suicide car bomber sees that group, gets close, detonates a car bomb before those friendly Iraqis can get close enough to the safety of the coalition HQ, that suicide thug nailing his target before it approached that zone.  Nine Iraqis burned to death immediately, including the head of the Iraqi Governing Council, a guy by the name of Ezzadine Salim, the second highest-ranking member to be murdered on that U.S.-appointed council.

The new leader of the Iraqi Governing Council says the march to democracy will go on.


GHAZI MASHAL AJIL AL YAWER, IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL:  This is a challenge, and we accept this challenge.  We are more determined than yesterday to go along with the process for regaining sovereignty and rebuilding Iraq as a democratic, free Iraq.


SALINAS:  Now, there was a bit of good news coming out of Baghdad today.  A couple of Russian engineers kidnapped earlier this month were released.  Apparently, a local sheik here in the southern part of Baghdad was able to talk sense into those kidnappers.  They were released unharmed, said all they wanted to do was go home and shave -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Orlando, thank you.

Joining us from Knoxville, Tennessee, is one of Saddam Hussein's former nuclear scientists, Dr. Gazi GEORGE.  Welcome, Gazi.

GAZI GEORGE, FORMER SADDAM NUCLEAR SCIENTIST:  Thank you, Greta.  Nice to be with you again.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Nice to see you, sir.  Gazi, let's go back to the time when you were working for Saddam Hussein.  Did he have a chemical weapons program that you knew directly about?

GEORGE:  Yes.  Saddam Hussein started his nuclear program -- his chemical program in the early '70s, and he continued with that until even the day I left in late of '81.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And what chemicals was he seeking to use as weapons?

GEORGE:  He initiated that he had some Russian experts that were working with him on a nerve gas program.  That's the sarin, the soman (ph) and the -- later on, the DVX.  In addition to that, he was experimenting with gases like cyanide, phosgene, the choking gas, and some of the blister agents, like mustard and nitrogen mustard.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  And it was your understanding that those were all being tested and developed for weapons, not for any other purpose.

GEORGE:  Absolutely.  They serve no other business -- no other purpose except being weapons to kill.

VAN SUSTEREN:  How proud of this program was he, do you know?

GEORGE:  Saddam really lived his life mainly with the intention of everybody fearing him, and one way that even his neighbors would fear him was to have weapons that could destroy and kill in a way that is scary to everybody, and that is, you know, to use chemical weapons to choke them or to burn them with.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And why were the scientists so willing to develop these weapons?  Was it out of fear for him?

GEORGE:  Of course.  You know, when you work for Saddam Hussein -- you know, in the '70s, he was the vice president, but he was virtually in charge of the whole government.  When you're assigned a task to work, especially if you're part of the military -- and that's where I was, I was part of the military at that time -- you had to work.  They brought us some Russian experts all the way from Russia that were traveling between Egypt, Iraq and Syria, training all the three countries on chemical warfare, biological warfare and nuclear -- protection from nuclear warfare.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Now, you left in 1981, but since the time you left, did you stay in touch with people who were connected with the chemical and biological weapons programs?

GEORGE:  The three guys that were in charge of Saddam's chemical programs were friends of mine.  They were graduates of the same year.  I was asked to volunteer to become a lieutenant with the military at that time, in the '70s.  I refused because I wanted to go and get my higher degree.  Three of my friends remained, and one of them was in charge of the VX program and the other two were part of the chemical warfare department, as instructors.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Did you have any contact with them after you left in 1981?

GEORGE:  I have not.  I have kept tabs on what was going in there through friends of friends, you know, because when I left Iraq in 1981, I had been sentenced to death by the Iraqi government.  I worked for the Atomic Energy Commission at that time, and I was one of five people that were trained heavily in France and other countries to run the new nuclear projects.  So when I escaped, the government was mad at me, and they had sent their goons, you know, to try and kill me in England and Scotland and finally here.

VAN SUSTEREN:  So Gazi, where do you think these chemical weapons have been hidden?  Or have they been taken to Syria?  I mean, give me -- give me your theory on where they are and where they've been.

GEORGE:  Yes.  For, you know, anyone who says that Saddam does not have them or did not have them when the Americans went in, I believe that they're wrong.  I always held the firm belief that Saddam maintained a chemical -- at least a chemical inventory somewhere in the desert.  And if you look at Iraq, Iraq is really a large desert, as you leave the delta, the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates.  The movement between Iraq and Syria has been always very open.  You know, it's a smuggler's route.  So taking the material to Syria was the first thing I thought of, you know, that he's going to smuggle a lot of the equipment, the manufacturing equipment, and some of the -- what we call the binary warheads, like the one that exploded today or yesterday in Iraq.  This is mainly because they have a longer shelf life than others.  I also...

VAN SUSTEREN:  Let me ask you one quick question.  Your three friends who are heads of the programs -- we only have about 30 seconds left -- are they still alive?  And do you think they'd be willing to talk, now that Saddam's in custody, as to where this stuff is?

GEORGE:  I know one of them was captured by the American authorities, and he is somewhere -- he's held somewhere.  He was in charge of the VX program.  And I'm sure he'll talk, you know, if he's given a chance and if he's -- if he talks to people that he knows, I'm sure he's going to tell what he knows.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  Dr. Gazi GEORGE, always a pleasure.  Thank you, sir.

GEORGE:  Thank you.

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