White House: Bush misstated report on Iraq


Richard Moore

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From: "Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power
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To: "Global Network" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 05:28:31 -0400

White House: Bush misstated report on Iraq

President meets with Blair
on strategy ahead of speech


Sept. 7 -  Seeking to build a case Saturday that Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass
destruction, President Bush cited a satellite
photograph and a report by the U.N. atomic energy
agency as evidence of Iraq's impending rearmament. But
in response to a report by NBC News, a senior
administration official acknowledged Saturday night
that the U.N. report drew no such conclusion, and a
spokesman for the U.N. agency said the photograph had
been misinterpreted.

BUSH AND BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair talked to
reporters before opening about three hours of talks at
Camp David, Bush's presidential retreat in Maryland.

Blair cited a newly released satellite photo of Iraq
identifying new construction at several sites linked in
the past to Baghdad's development of nuclear weapons.
And both leaders mentioned a 1998 report by the
U.N.-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency, or
IAEA, that said Saddam could be six months away from
developing nuclear weapons.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," Bush said as
he greeted Blair for a brainstorming session on Iraq.
"We owe it to future generations to deal with this

In a joint appearance before the summit, the two
leaders repeated their shared view that Saddam's ouster
was the only way to stop Iraq's pursuit - and potential
use - of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

"The policy of inaction is not a policy we can
responsibly subscribe to," Blair said as he joined Bush
in trying to rally reluctant allies to deal with
Saddam, perhaps by military force.

Contrary to Bush's claim, however, the 1998 IAEA report
did not say that Iraq was six months away from
developing nuclear capability, NBC News' Robert Windrem
reported Saturday.

Instead, Windrem reported, the Vienna, Austria-based
agency said in 1998 that Iraq had been six to 24 months
away from such capability before the 1991 Persian Gulf
War and the U.N.-monitored weapons inspections that

The war and the inspections destroyed much of Iraq's
nuclear infrastructure and required Iraq to turn over
its highly enriched uranium and plutonium, Windrem

In a summary of its 1998 report, the IAEA said that
"based on all credible information available to date
... the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having
achieved its programme goal of producing nuclear
weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical
capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear
material or having clandestinely obtained such


A senior White House official acknowledged Saturday
night that the 1998 report did not say what Bush
claimed. "What happened was, we formed our own
conclusions based on the report," the official told NBC
News' Norah O' DonnellMeanwhile, Mark Gwozdecky, a
spokesman for the U.N. agency, disputed Bush's and
Blair's assessment of the satellite photograph, which
was first publicized Friday. Contrary to news service
reports, there was no specific photo or building that
aroused suspicions, he told Windrem.

The photograph in question was not U.N. intelligence
imaging but simply a picture from a commercial
satellite imaging company, Gwozdecky said. He said that
the IAEA reviewed commercial satellite imagery
regularly and that, from time to time, it noticed
construction at sites it had previously examined.

Gwozdecky said the new construction indicated in the
photograph was no surprise and that no conclusions were
drawn from it. "There is not a single building we see,"
he said.


In another development, a former U.N. arms inspector
who does not believe that Iraq is developing weapons of
mass destruction, arrived in Baghdad declaring that his
mission was to try to stop any war on Iraq.

Scott Ritter, who arrived in Baghdad late Saturday, was
expected to address the Iraqi parliament on Sunday. He
was also due to meet senior Iraqi officials.

NBC: Fear and anger inside Iraq

Ritter said the trip was at his own initiative "As an
American citizen concerned about the direction that my
country is taking, I think that's the reason why I'm

"I'm here to help set in motion a sequence of events
that hopefully could prevent a war that doesn't need to
be fought," he told CNN.

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