UNITED STATES ARMS SALES TO IRAQ: EXCERPTS OF RECENT CBS `60 MINUTES' BROADCAST (House of Representatives - January 31, 1991)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Owens of Utah). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Moody] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. MOODY. Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, January 20, the CBS television network program `60 Minutes' broadcast an extraordinary interview with an international arms dealer, Sarkis Soghanalian, who lives in Miami. I am placing in the Record a transcript of key excerpts from that interview.

The revelations and allegations made by Mr. Soghanalian are, and must be, extremely disturbing to every American. They are disturbing to Mr. Soghanalian. He gives a first-hand description of official and unofficial American involvement in the enormous buildup of arms to Saddam Hussein. Much of this buildup occurred after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988. He gives chilling accounts of the cozy relationship among high past and present U.S. Government officials who permitted, and in some cases, actually assisted his sales of many of the lethal weapons Saddam Hussein is now using to bring death to American military personnel and civilians throughout the Middle East region.

I congratulate the staff of `60 Minutes' for bringing this explosive matter to the attention of the American public. Executive producer Don Hewitt, producer Lowell Bergman, and on-air reporter Steve Kroft have raised profound questions in this piece that demand further investigation.

Mr. Speaker, last week, after his interview on `60 Minutes' I traveled to Miami to spend a day with Mr. Soghanalian exploring in greater detail many of the issues he touched on in the TV broadcast. At a later time I will share some of these items with the Congress. At this time, I can only say to my colleagues that the outline contained in the following excerpts from the `60 Minutes' broadcast only scratches the surface of where and how the dictator Saddam Hussein acquired the deadly weapons he is now using against American and allied soldiers in the gulf war.

If our fears of a protracted ground war in Iraq are borne out--and I hope they won't be--hundreds and perhaps thousands of American soldiers will be wounded or killed by weapons our own Government helped Saddam Hussein acquire. Toward the end of this excerpted interview Mr. Soghanalian discusses the weaponry he has sold Iraq with the direct involvement and cooperation of various U.S. Government agencies.

Mr. Speaker, this matter calls out for further investigation.

Mr. Soghanalian is to be commended for his openness and his willingness to bring out into the open this most disturbing issue of the U.S. Government's role in arming Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Speaker, I include for the Record the transcript of the `60 Minutes' interview.

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The Man Who Armed Iraq

Kroft. Sarkis Soghanalian is the arms dealer who armed Iraq. During the war between Iraq and Iran, despite a worldwide embargo, Sarkis sold billions in arms to Saddam Hussein.

This Lebanese Armenian has made a career out of breaking international embargoes--supplying arms to countries and groups with whom the United States in particular--did not want to be seen with in public.

Filling that niche made him rich. And supplying Iraq made him during the 1980s the largest private arms dealer in the world.

As you would imagine, Sarkis's intimate relationship with Iraq's military gives him unique insight into their strategy. For a couple of days earlier this week, he talked with us about the arms he sold to Saddam Hussein and gave us what his assessment of what might be in store for our own troops.

Sarkis. Iraqi troops will never surrender to foreign troops. If they use Egyptians on a front line, you know, for psychological reason, maybe Iraqi soldier will say, I am surrendering to another brother, but to surrender to a foreign troop like Germans or French or American, they don't . . . they will fight to their last bullet.

Kroft. Sarkis Soghanalian not only provided weapons to Iraq, he inspected the front lines regularly during the war with Iran, checked out captured equipment, even helped develop Iraq's military strategy. The day before the war began, Sarkis told us in his Miami office that Iraq would, in fact, put up little or no resistance to U.S. air power. But his predictions about a ground war that is almost sure to follow are not so rosy.

Sarkis. The United States is facing hard core, tough battlefield trained ground forces.

Kroft. It's not going to be like Grenada?

Sarkis. No. Grenada was a vacation. Panama was the same way. This is not Panama, this is not Grenada. And you're fighting a different kind of people.

Kroft. What do you mean . . . ?

Sarkis. Well, Iraqi soldiers can go into the desert, into sand, and sit for two, three days. They don't need no heavy arms. They don't need no distilled water, no bottled water, you know. They can get milk out of a camel and survive, but they will dig in and wait for us to come in.

Kroft. Sarkis thinks the real battle will come when allied troops try to push the Iraqis out of populated areas like Kuwait City.

Sarkis. How we gonna kick those guys out of the houses? It's
gonna be like Berlin, wall to wall, and room to room . . . they will try to cause as much personal casualties as they can in order to embarrass our leaders here. That's their tactic. This is what's gonna be concentrated on. And Air Force superiority electronics-wise, maybe they jam all their equipment, that's . . . they don't care about that. But the major aim is how much casualty they can cause. . . . The [American] equipment is advanced equipment, but it is not for this war. You are not fighting in a climate like European climate, your fighting heat, rain, dust. It won't work.

Kroft. Sarkis says the equipment he sold to Iraq has been customized to withstand the heat and sand and dust of the Middle East. He says Iraq's military hardware may be more reliable.

Sarkis. Because it's not electronic . . . it's conventional weapons. Just like their tanks. They don't have air conditioning, no stabilizer, no nothing. They just, you know, the old-fashioned conventional thing. They dig a hole, they circle a couple of times, they make a hole. They sit there like a sniper and wait for the enemy to come in. And they have artillery superiority.

Kroft. You sold the Iraqis quite a bit of artillery, French artillery . . . the 155 Howitzer . . self propelled?

Sarkis. Yes.

Kroft. Why is it superior to anything the United States has?

Sarkis. We do not have the same range as this vehicle . . . this gun has. It's modified to 42 kilometers [25 miles]. What do we have in the field to match this gun?

Kroft. The Iraqis have a 20 kilometer [12 mile] advantage in terms of artillery range.

Sarkis. Yeah. They can fight from a distance.

Kroft. And Sarkis says that the French artillery pieces he sold to Iraq, over one hundred of them, are backed by thousands of specially modified Soviet long-range cannons, as well as advanced artillery purchased from South Africa by way of Austria. Sarkis used Austria as a middle man to get around U.N. sanctions against South Africa. A lot of different people had their hands in this, one way or another.

Sarkis. Oh, yeah the . . . the . . . war game.

Kroft. What do you mean the war game?

Sarkis. Well, some people lose blood, some people make money. That's why I don't want to get involved in this war. I don't want to make money on . . .

Kroft. You're already involved in this war, aren't you?

Sarkis. Well, I don't look at it that way.

Kroft. A lot of that equipment that's facing the United States right now was sold to the Iraqis by you, Sarkis.

Sarkis. Yeah, but I didn't sell it eight years ago to fight ourselves today. That was sold to fight Khomeini. And we were against Khomeini. U.S. had hostages there, and I said, I'll go ahead and take my share in it.

Kroft. So you sold the weapons to the Iraqis to fight the. . .

Sarkis. Khomeinis . . . not to fight the, you know, Americans.

Kroft. Right. Because that would be best for America . . . and best maybe for Sarkis.

Sarkis. Well, you get compensated sometimes. There's nothing wrong with that. And if Sarkis wouldn't do it, somebody else would do it.

Kroft. And other arms dealers and countries did. Brazil provided thousands of armored vehicles. China and the Soviet Union sent tanks, missiles and munitions. German companies sold Saddam poison gas technology, and France, not only approved the sale of artillery to Iraq, but [also sold] armed helicopters and antiaircraft missile systems.

This Chilean arms manufacturer [shown on screen] sold Saddam deadly cluster bombs--reportedly with technical assistance from U.S. companies, and the United States allowed American computer technology to go to Iraq as well. It allowed Sarkis to sell Hughes and Bell helicopters. The U.S. government approved the sale after Iraq promised that they would only be used for civilian purposes. Sarkis told us that the helicopters were used as transportation during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Sarkis. I did it with the knowledge of U.S. authorities, policy makers--and also they have delivered weapons that are equally weapons as I did. I do not have anything on my conscience. I did not sell the weapons to kill the American boys.

Kroft. Which agencies of the U.S. government knew about Sarkis and his deals with Iraq? Well, according to Sarkis, almost all of them. And federal court documents show that Sarkis Soghanalian had a relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies for decades, and has performed work on their behalf.

Not all of Sarkis's deals with Iraq involve weapons. He arranged the sale of $280 million in uniforms to the Iraqi army. And Sarkis's partners in the deal included former Vice President Spiro Agnew, a former Attorney General, Colonel Jack Brennan.

The partners used their influence to get ex-President Nixon to provide them with these letters of introduction [shown on screen] to heads of state around the world.

[To Sarkis] Do you think there was anything unusual about a former Vice President and a former Attorney General and a former Chief of Staff for the President of the United Stateas to want to be selling military uniforms to the Iraqis?

Sarkis. They were not only in the uniform business. They would sell their mothers if they could, just to make the money.

Kroft. Some of his partners in that deal aren't talking to him
at all today. They're in court suing Sarkis over the multimillion dollar commissions they say he hasn't paid them

... [To Sarkis] Are you a Merchant of Death? You are an arms salesman.

Sarkis. No. I am a coordinator of industries that produce arms. But I am not a salesman. I don't carry no bag. I don't carry no catalogue in my pocket to sell arms to anybody.

Kroft. Why did this international arms dealer [Sarkis]--who is currently under federal indictment in Miami--decide to talk with us? Well, Sarkis says this is one war he doesn't want any part of.

Sarkis. No, this war stinks. It's not to anybody's advantage. I don't know who's advising who. This is a dirty war for us. What are we gonna do with Kuwait? We lose so many men, and next spring the Emir of Kuwait is sitting in Monaco, in Monte Carlo, happy with European girls. I'd fight for anybody that I have faith in. ... The man has 80 wives. Which one can he love, you know, if he's raising a family or a country? What do you owe the Emir of Kuwait? Why? For all this much sacrifice, or for prestige?

Kroft. Which do you think?

Sarkis. I think it's for ego, somebody's ego. ...

Kroft. You don't think it's worth committing a half a million American troops to ...

Sarkis. Hell no. ... go to die for this garbage war, no way, not me. I obey my country. I obey my President. He's a lovely man. He's a good man. He's, ah, intelligent person, but how he's making this decision, I don't know.

Kroft. And Sarkis Soghanalian made a decision too. He says Iraq has approached him about breaking the current embargo and selling them more arms. He says he's not running their phone calls.

Sarkis. It against my principle ... to go against U.S. policy. I'm staying away 100 percent now because I don't want to supply them with nothing. No spare parts or nothing. No vehicles, no shoes, no clothes, no nothing because they will support the enemy of today. A friend of yesterday is an enemy of today.

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... Kroft. And tomorrow?

Sarkis. Who knows? Maybe a friend again.

Kroft [closing]. For the last three years Sarkis Soghanalian has been under a federal indictment for--among other things--conspiring to sell 300 American-built Hughes combat helicopters to Iraq.

The case has been stalled largely because U.S. intelligence agencies have been reluctant to turn over classified files that Sarkis says he needs to conduct his defense.

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