USIS Washington 
File

02 March 1998

TRANSCRIPT: WORLDNET INTERVIEW WITH FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR

(Iraq retains potential to reacquire weapons of mass destruction)
(7770)


Washington -- Iraq has the potential to quickly reacquire weapons of
mass destruction if United Nations weapons inspections were to stop,
according to a former U.N. weapons inspector who helped to identify
Iraqi equipment that could be used to make lethal biological weapons.


Professor Raymond Zilinskas of the University of Maryland said March 2
his team of inspectors visited some 35 sites in 1994 that contained
dual-use equipment, like fermenters, large dryer and freeze-dry
machines. He said Iraqi officials at the time had cooperated with U.N.
inspectors on visits to declared suspected weapons sites.


However, Zilinskas also said Iraqi officials were not forthcoming
about the full extent of their biological weapons programs and had to
be confronted with evidence that uncovered up to 50 other suspected
biological weapons sites.


In a Worldnet Dialogue program with Vilnius, Cairo and Lagos,
Zilinskas stressed that much remains unknown about Iraq's biological
and chemical weapons programs despite the progress U.N. inspectors
have made since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. For example, he said,
strong suspicions remain that Iraq may have hidden unknown quantities
of a deadly VX nerve gas, and some Scud missiles with a range of 600
kilometers.


Moreover, he said, Iraq still possess highly capable and trained
scientists, engineers and technicians who worked on the chemical and
biological weapons programs and who could return to work on those
programs any time. As a result, Zilinskas said he believes Iraq
retains a "significant potential" to reacquire weapons of mass
destruction should it want to do so.


On a related issue, Zilinkas expressed concern about the new agreement
signed last week between U.N. chief Kofi Annan and Iraq, saying the
deal depends on the cooperation of the Iraqis. And given the "very
poor" history of past Iraqi compliance with U.N. weapons inspections,
Zilinkas said problems with access to sensitive and sovereign sites
are likely to reoccur.


In fact, he said questions have already arisen between Chief U.N. Arms
Inspector Richard Butler and Iraq over the role of the diplomats that
are to accompany U.N. weapons inspectors on visits to sites the Iraqis
have declared as sovereign.


Following is the transcript of the Worldnet program:



(For more information on this subject, contact our special Iraq
website at:
http://www.usia.gov/iraq)



(Begin transcript)



MR. BERTEL: Welcome to Washington Window, where we discuss today's
major news stories one on one with leading newsmakers. On this week's
program we'll be discussing the ongoing situation in Iraq, focusing on
chemical and biological weapons. While many questions were answered
with the recent signing of the U.N. agreement allowing access for U.N.
weapons inspectors to Saddam Hussein's presidential sites, many more
have been left open for discussion. Access for UNSCOM weapons
inspectors is critical. The potential damage that chemical and
biological weapons can cause is devastating. Eliminating this threat
is crucial.


We welcome to our program Professor Ray Zilinskas. Mr. Zilinskas is a
former U.N. weapons inspector, who is currently an associate professor
at the University of Maryland's Center for Public Issues in
Biotechnology. Dr. Zilinskas, it's a pleasure to have you with us
today.


MR. ZILINSKAS:  Glad to be here.



MR. BERTEL: I know we are going to have many questions today. So at
this point I'd like to turn things over to Vilnius, Lithuania, to
begin our program. Please go ahead.


Q: Okay, hello, it's Vilnius, Lithuania calling. Can we have our
question?


MR. BERTEL:  Please go ahead with your questions.



Q: Mr. Zilinskas, I want to ask you what can you say about the U.S.
and international community's policy towards biological and chemical
weapons? In what way do international treaties and agreements restrict
the production, development, spread and use of biological as well as
chemical weapons? And is this control efficient and effective? Also,
what are the major nations at the moment developing the biggest
programs of biological and chemical weapons? Thank you.


MR. ZILINSKAS: It's a rather long complicated question. For one thing,
there are two treaties involved, one for chemical weapons and one for
biological weapons. The recently, what you say -- the Chemical Weapons
Convention came into force in April of 1997, and that forbids
development, production and storage of chemical weapons, as well as
calling for the destruction of all existing weapons under -- during
certain time periods. It also sets up an international inspectorate
that is working out of The Hague, and that goes and can check on any
allegations of illegal activities. And this agency also checks on
former chemical weapons production plants, as well as the destruction
of chemical weapons. So that treaty hasn't been tested yet, but it
seems like one of the strongest arms control treaties ever developed.
So we have to kind of wait and see what is going to happen with the
Chemical Weapons Convention, but I would say that it looks really very
good on that being able to suppress the international proliferation of
chemical weapons.


As far as the biological weapons, the treaty that is most directly
involved is the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, or the
BWC for short. The trouble -- well, this treaty forbids the
development, production, storage and transfer of technology of
anything having to do with biological weapons or relevant knowledge.
About 160 nations belong to the BWC. The problem with the BWC is that
it does not have any provisions for verifying whether or not member
nations are actually in compliance, so you just have to take the
nation's word for that. What the treaty does is once a nation ratifies
the convention, then within six months they have to make a statement
saying that they are in full compliance, that they have destroyed any
biological weapons if they have had them in the past; or, if they
haven't, that they don't have any. So -- but, anyway, it's a weak
treaty because of the lack of provisions for verifying compliance.


However, for the last three years there has been a group, called the
Ad Hoc Group, which is constituted by the member nations of the
Biological Weapons Convention, that are working to draw up a protocol
to the convention which would establish an inspectorate, pretty much
like the one that is now in existence for the Chemical Weapons
Convention. So when that happens -- and that can happen anytime
between two to five years -- that's my estimation -- then we would
have a fairly powerful Biological Weapons Convention also.


So -- but right now the convention is fairly weak. However, it allows
a nation -- if Nation A suspects that Nation B is doing some
activities that are against the Biological Weapons Convention, that
Nation A can bring up in a complaint to the state parties or to the
U.N. secretary general, and an investigation will be done. So there
are some ways of getting to nations that are not in compliance.


As far as how many nations that own or possess biological or chemical
weapons, there are a lot of guesses about that. In the biological
weapons area there have been various estimates from as low as seven to
as high as 15, but we don't know. In the chemical weapons, the major
possessors of course are the United States and Russia, but there are
about another five to ten nations that are thought to possess them.


MR. BERTEL: We'll have more questions from Vilnius in just a moment.


You were on the ground in Iraq. You were an UNSCOM inspector. What was
your reaction to Iraq's efforts to stymie the inspectors? Did you find
that, or did you find that they welcomed you with open arms?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, somewhere in between. But I have to say for the
Iraqi government, when I was there, which was in '94, they were
cooperating fully. So we had very good cooperation. We had -- to the
point where for example if it came to a locked door of a laboratory,
and if they key couldn't be found right away they would just break it
down. And this cooperation by the way continues with what they call
declared sites. In other words, the sites that the Iraqi government
has declared as being either biological, chemical or nuclear or
missile related. So even during all this trouble that has been going
on in the last few months, about 95 percent of UNSCOM and the agency's
work proceed unhindered, because it involves the declared sites. So we
are only talking about the five percent of the work that involves new
sites. When the U.N. inspectors come to a site and the Iraqis say --
Hold on, this is what we call the sensitive site -- you can't enter.
And that has caused trouble and has caused UNSCOM and the agency not
to be able to complete their work.


MR. BERTEL: These sites that we are talking about -- how large are
they? Are they factories or are these two- or three-room offices?


MR. ZILINSKAS: I think everywhere. It could be anywhere between. We
have a very large presidential site of I think it's something like --
what, nine square kilometers with 700 buildings. Or it could be a
solitary structure. For example, I saw a presidential palace just
outside Babylon and it was one structure sitting on top of the hill.
It was huge, but nevertheless one structure. So it could -- and
conceivably it could be a headquarters of a ministry, and that could
be a few rooms or it could be a big ministry building. So who knows.


MR. BERTEL: The sites that you were visiting when you were in Iraq,
were they all presented by the Iraqis, or was there a certain amount
of investigative work being done by the UNSCOM inspectors to find and
see out these sites?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, there's a combination. UNSCOM had information
from all the supporting government intelligence agencies as to
possible sites. So that began the whole process. And then the United
Nations Security Council Resolution 687 states that the Iraqis are to
provide information -- full, final complete declarations on all their
biological, chemical and nuclear facilities within -- I think it was
15 days. Well, they didn't, but they did provide some information. And
then as time has gone along they have provided more and more
information, and these are the so-called declared sites. So by the
time I started working in 1994 there were 32 declared biological
sites. And by the time -- well, by the time I left there were
something like 45. And now there are about 86 declared sites just in
the biological area. So those are known. And what is not also known is
what is inside of them, what kind of co-event, what are their work
programs, what is the relationship between these sites or the
facilities in question and other sites within Iraq, or with foreign
sites. So there are all kinds of questions that the investigators or
the inspectors go in to try to elucidate. And that tells them a lot
about the former programs, the weapons of mass destruction programs.


MR. BERTEL: Much of the equipment that is used in the making of
biological weapons has dual-use purposes. Briefly outline what you do
during one of your inspection visits to a biological site.


MR. ZILINSKAS: Okay. Well, the inspections that I was involved in we
were actually there to investigate dual-use equipment. So UNSCOM had
previously drawn up a list of what they call key equipment -- they are
large fermenters, large dryers, freeze-dry equipment -- well, there is
a whole long list of about 100 items. So when we went into these
facilities we went -- the first trip, which was in June, we visited
about 35 of these biological facilities. And what we did is we went
and looked at each one of the key equipments. We photographed them and
we would measure their physical dimensions. And then we would
eventually put a tag on them which is -- with a number -- and the tag
would be covered by what they call tamper-indicating tape, and this is
a very, very high-tech tape that had small glass beads embedded in it,
so if anybody tried to remove it or to manipulate it then it would
show up very clearly. So -- and all this data then would be entered
into a database that is located in New York at the UNSCOM
headquarters. And then when subsequent inspections go out there they
should -- they know that there is supposed to be this piece of
equipment sitting there with this kind of characteristic. So if that's
been -- if it's missing or it has been moved or something has been
done to it, they can ask the Iraqis right away what is happening to
this thing.


MR. BERTEL: Well, I could ask questions all day because this is
fascinating, but I know our participants in Vilnius are once again
standing by. So let's return there for more questions.


Q: Okay, I have another question. Mr. Zilinskas, how would you assess
the potential of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons? In your
estimation, how much weapons did Iraq manage to conceal from the
UNSCOM inspectors? And what is the potential threat coming from Iraq's
potential to Middle East countries, in particular Israel, in your
estimation?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Yes, that's a good question. As far as the chemical and
biological weapons that once existed, in other words before Desert
Storm in 1991, that has -- that has pretty much been demolished by
UNSCOM. In other words, the -- I think there were 4,000 tons of
chemical agents plus thousands of munitions either filled with
chemical agents or ready to be filled. All that has been destroyed.
That was mostly destroyed during the summer of '94, mostly by burning.


This does not mean that the Iraqis do not possess some hidden
quantities. For example, there is some real suspicion that the Iraqis
have hidden some VX -- a nerve agent which is a most toxic nerve agent
-- in some sort of bulk quantity. But the facilities that made the
chemical weapons, and the chemical weapons themselves have been
destroyed. So what we do now have is a potential of this hidden
quantity sitting somewhere in a desert maybe, or being buried in some
sort of bunker.


As far as biological weapons, the Iraqis themselves destroyed more
than 200 biological bombs, missiles and rockets. However, the U.N. has
not been able to verify that destruction. But in a way we have to
accept the Iraqis' word on that point. And, furthermore, even if they
have hidden some, the shelf life -- in other words, the time that the
living organisms or the toxins would be able to retain their virulence
is very short. It's less than six months. So if they have hidden some
away, that would just be sort of gop sitting somewhere.


And also UNSCOM destroyed the dedicated biological weapons facility at
Al-Hakam (sp) and the parts at El Manal (sp) that were involved in
this. So that's gone too.


But I think what's important is really, as you said, the potential.
The potential is that the work force -- in other words, the
scientists, the engineers and the technicians that worked -- that
operated the biological and chemical weapons programs -- those are
civilians, and those people are still living and presumably are well
-- and are ready to go to work. In the biological area also we would
have to assume that they retained seed cultures of the organisms that
were used to either produce toxin or were used themselves as
biological weapons agents. So that means that these seed cultures
could be taken out of small refrigerators -- even sitting in
somebody's home -- and be used in normally appearing fermenters that
are now existing in peaceful or civilian directed plants. And these
can be used then to propagate organisms to build up large quantities
very quickly. I would say that you could have militarily useful
quantities in a few months, and then you can take -- the Iraqis can
take the munitions and coat them -- put some special coating inside to
protect the organisms. So that could all be done within six months --
and shorter if it was only done for terrorist purposes.


So the potential is significant. And because the weapons that the
Iraqis have to deliver them -- in other words the missiles -- they
retain missiles with a range of under 150 kilometers, and that of
course can only threaten their neighbors. And there is also feeling
among the UNSCOM analysts, and also intelligence analysts, that the
Iraqis have hidden something like between two and 20 Scud missiles
with a range of 600 kilometers. So with them they certainly could
threaten Israel if they moved those missiles up into the northern part
of Iraq.


But anyway, what we are talking about mostly is the potential. If
UNSCOM and the agency were removed, then should the Iraqi government
so wish they have a work force to immediately start redeveloping these
weapons. They have the seed cultures and they might have some hidden
quantities of nerve agents that can be used to very quickly fill
weapons to have a militarily significant weapons of mass destruction
program within -- well, like I said, a few months. Thank you.


Q:  Well, I have one more question, if that's possible.



MR. BERTEL:  Sure, go ahead.



Q: Mr. Zilinskas, does UNSCOM have sufficient evidence proving
cooperation between Iraq and Russia or China, or some other nation, in
developing its biological and chemical weapons programs? I ask this
because there were recent reports suggesting a deal between Iraq and
Russia would supply Iraq with equipment and technology for producing
biological and chemical weapons.


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, this is a very touchy issue, as you can imagine,
and I think it involves intelligence information that I don't have
access to. I can only tell you when I was there there was no overt
sign of this kind of cooperation. And I have read since that time that
the Iraqis have been negotiating with the Russians to buy a
50,000-liter fermenter which conceivably would have gone into the
Al-Hakam (sp) plant, which of course now is destroyed, but could be
used again for peaceful production -- supposedly for single-cell
protein. But if they wish, or if the intent was so, the Iraqi
government could also use it for biological warfare purposes. But I
don't personally know of any of these kind of connections. Thank you.


MR. BERTEL: Vilnius, thank you for those questions. And we will be
back with more of our discussion right after this.


(Break.)



MR. BERTEL: Welcome back to the program. We are discussing the role of
UNSCOM inspectors in Iraq. Let's move on now to Nile TV and Nihal Saad
(sp) for more of our discussion.


Q: Hello, Jim, thank you for hosting this show from Washington. Dr.
Zilinskas, thank you for joining us here in Cairo. My first question
is about the deal that was signed earlier last week between U.N. Chief
Kofi Annan and Baghdad. What is your assessment of this deal? There
have been reports that the deal might weaken UNSCOM inspections. So
what is your assessment?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, first off, on the benefit side, I must say I
welcomed it, because it stopped any propensity of the U.S. government
to want to bomb Iraq, which I thought would be counterproductive and
-- well, I am not going to say too much about it, but I am glad it
stopped it. And, second, it allows Congress, the U.S. Congress, to
enter into the policy debate on what to do about Iraq as a threat for
the long term.


On the cost side, I have some real worries about the viability, the
long-term viability, of this agreement. I think there are a lot of
questions that I have. I will mention four areas of concern. The first
area is that the logistics seem rather daunting. The agreement calls
for senior diplomats to accompany UNSCOM inspections. Now, what does
this mean? Does that mean there are going to be a bunch of senior
diplomats sitting around in Baghdad waiting for it to be called, or
are they suddenly going to be flown in from all over the world to join
at a surprise inspection? If it's a surprise inspection of course it's
not going to be a surprise anymore. But the logistics are rather
daunting, because Iraq, if you remember, is isolated. There are no
direct flights into Baghdad. You have to come through Bahrain with an
UNSCOM airplane to Baghdad, and then you have to go out into the
field.


So the second part is the -- it seems to me that you inject politics
in what should be a scientific, technical process. In other words, the
agency and UNSCOM are scientific technical agencies doing
technological assessment. Now you have politicians joining it. So I am
just wondering if they are not going to interject a sort of element of
politics -- especially if there are some difficulties with the Iraqis
about accessing sites.


The third -- as you incidentally noted is the possibility for
weakening UNSCOM. So by setting up this mechanism there is now a line
of communications that circumvents UNSCOM and the agency. In effect
these diplomats can be -- of course can be communicating directly with
the secretary general or even the General Assembly. So this could, if
there are some problems coming up on a political level, this could
weaken UNSCOM's position.


And then the fourth is -- and that's the most important of all the
things -- the other three kind of fade into insignificance compared to
the fourth -- and that is the whole agreement depends on the
cooperation of the Iraqis. And the history of the Iraqis has been very
poor in this regard. When they have been -- when UNSCOM or the agency
had been trying to access so-called sovereign or these sensitive
sites, the Iraqis uniformly had been hindering that process, in doing
everything that they can to defray or to deflect the inspectors from
going there; and once on site they have tried to hide materials and
they have lied in interviews about the purpose of these sites and
whatever UNSCOM finds on them. So that to me is the most difficult
problem.


And I note from today's news that Ambassador Hamdoon, the Iraqi
ambassador to the United Nations, is already putting a different
interpretation than that by Butler. He is saying that when the teams
go into these sensitive sites, accompanied by senior diplomats, that
the senior diplomats are in charge. Butler on the other hand is saying
they are just observers -- UNSCOM is in charge. But depending on what
happens now when these inspection teams actually go into Iraq -- I
would just wonder how the Iraqis are going to treat the teams that are
in fact in charge, are being led by UNSCOM -- and the diplomat as only
being an observer. We'll have to see. Thank you.


Q: Dr. Zilinskas, I understand from your bio you have been involved
yourself in UNSCOM in inspecting operations in Iraq, and at the same
time you mentioned in your answer earlier that one of the concerns
about the deal done with Iraq is the formation of the inspection team;
that is, that it includes diplomats. So my question is what is exactly
the criteria of choosing or selecting those members of UNSCOM doing
the inspection operations? How long would each of them remain in the
UNSCOM team? Are there certain rules or regulations regarding this?


MR. ZILINSKAS: There are practical working relationships between
UNSCOM and the member countries that dictate this. What happens is
this: When UNSCOM decides they want to put on an inspection, it first
delineates the mission of that inspection. And then they decide what
kind of expertise is required to accomplish that mission. Once they
have done that -- well, that expertise for example could be for
example microbiologists, chemists, interpreters, document experts --
whatever. Then they send a list out to all supporting governments
saying we need -- what is it, 15 or 20 or whatever people with this
kind of expertise. And then the Swedes come back and they say, "Okay,
we'll supply microbiologists." The Germans say, "We are going to
supply a biochemist." The Americans say, "We are going to supply an
engineer," and so forth. In the end they have -- they decide what they
need versus what they have. They might only have for example 10 people
for a 15-person mission. At that time they usually come to England and
to the United States and say, "Gee, we need five more, and we need
them in a big hurry," and then what happens is the U.S. is usually
able to supply this. Usually the U.S. is the only country that really
has the number of people with the required expertise, and that's why
we sometimes have the situation of teams being more populated by more
Americans than other nationalities. But that's not UNSCOM's fault
really. It's really that the nations have not provided the expertise
necessary. So that's how the technical teams are picked.


Q: One of the questions that were raised was why doesn't UNSCOM
include some members from the Middle East?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, it's very simple: because the governments don't
volunteer them. Remember, the governments are the ones that are making
the inspectors available. The governments are the ones that pay the
inspectors' salaries. UNSCOM only provides per diem and travel
expenses. So unless the governments are willing to volunteer their
nationals, their nationals don't take part in the inspection. So when
I was there we had very, very few Middle East government actually
volunteering their nationals. As far as I know, there has only been a
very few Egyptians on it. We have never seen for example Japanese. So
it's really the governments themselves that are at fault in this
instance.


Q: I heard you earlier talking about the potential danger of Iraq's
chemical and biological weapons. But I just want to comment on that,
and I would like to know what you have to say. We're talking about a
country who is under a virtual military occupation, with no-fly zones
and American satellites hovering all over its skies all the time. And
so the allegations might be true that Iraq might be in possession of
some chemical and biological weapons. But at the same time it does not
have the missiles or planes it needs to get these biological or
chemical weapons to their targets.


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, I agree with you. I think it's mostly a
potential. We're talking about if UNSCOM and the agency are removed
from Iraq, and if the Iraqi government would so wish, they could
reacquire weapons of mass destruction very quickly, except the nuclear
one, which would take some time of course.


Q: Dr. Zilinskas, also I would like to ask about the timeframe. This
has been also one area of concern, the timeframe that UNSCOM would
take in order to finish or complete its inspection of the biological
-- alleged biological and chemical weapons in Iraq. Can this go for
how long? I mean, it can't be indefinite. There should be a timeframe.
This is something that we are all very concerned about. So can this go
just indefinitely? Shouldn't there be a timeframe for the inspection
operations?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, there are two aspects to removing economic
sanctions, the political aspects and the scientific technical. The
scientific technical is that the agency and UNSCOM declares that they
know enough about the past programs to safely initiate ongoing
monitoring or verification for the long term. As far as I understand
the agency is very close to declaring that they are satisfied with the
nuclear area. UNSCOM is very close to declaring it satisfied with the
long-range missile and the chemical area. But the one that is holding
up is the biological area. But I stress again that the reason why that
is held up is not because of UNSCOM. It is because the Iraqis are not
providing the access and the information necessary to clear up
whatever there is to be cleared up.


To give you an example, the Iraqis were supposed to come up with a
full final complete declaration within 15 days. It took them six
months in the biological area to come up with a declaration saying
that they only had three biological defense related laboratories. And
this was an obvious lie, and that was pointed out to them by UNSCOM.
So by 1994, when I was there, they said, "Well, we have 30 facilities
out of which two or three were involved in biological defense." And
then -- and that was an obvious lie too, and the information was
available to come back to the Iraqis. So then after Hussein Kemal
defected, in August of 1995, then the Iraqis suddenly say, "Ah, we're
sorry, we did actually have a very big biological weapons program,"
and then they gave some information. And that turns out to be
complete.


So we have gone from the full, final, complete disclosure of a
biological area that took 30 pages in 1993 to one that's 670 pages in
1996. And it's still incomplete. So it really depends on the Iraqis'
cooperation. If they decided to start cooperating I would say -- I
would estimate that UNSCOM can declare that they have sufficient
information by the time UNSCOM issues its report in October of 1998.
And then of course the political part enters into it, and that is
completely separate from the UNSCOM agency process. That has to do
with restitution of Kuwaiti properties, what happened to the 600
missing Kuwaitis and so on. And of course that is a political decision
that the Security Council has to make at that time.


Q: Now we are talking about biological and chemical weapons, and
Israel is in possession of nuclear weapons. Why isn't the United
States concerned about that? I mean, why is it concerned only about
what Iraq possesses and of the potential threat? Why isn't it
concerned about the potential threat of nuclear weapons possessed by
Israel to the region?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, I tell you this whole Israeli-Arab situation is a
very, very difficult one and I am really a technical scientific person
here to discuss the Iraqis' programs of weapons of mass destruction
and its potential in this area, and I would like to stay on that
subject.


Q: One more question. But then I would ask you do we consider that the
situation with Iraq now, the crisis, is already defused? It's over? Or
do you think that this is -- potential problems are likely to happen?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, my feeling is that the problems we have had
before with access to sites is going to reappear. For some reason the
Iraqi government seems very, very intent on protecting some sort of
body of information about their biological warfare program that I
don't understand. That one sticking point has caused the Iraqis to
lose billions of dollars of income. It has set back this whole lifting
of the economic sanctions process. And I don't know if the Iraqis are
going to continue stonewalling their biological weapons program. If
they do, then we are still going to have a recurrence of the same
problem. We are going to have hindrances of access to certain sites,
hindrances about access to information, and hindrances of access to
the people who work these programs. And I unfortunately feel the same
-- that this is going to happen again.


MR. BERTEL: Nihal, thank you for those questions. And we'll continue
our discussion in just a moment.


(Break.)



MR. BERTEL: And thank you for joining us today. We are discussing
UNSCOM's mission in Iraq. Let's move on now to Lagos for more of our
discussion.


Q: Good afternoon. My name is Morris Achibung (sp), a journalist with
the Sunday Times of Nigeria. (Professor Zilinskas, we are ?)
interested in this UNSCOM mission to Iraq. I wonder if it could
continue ad infinitum. At the end of the day, who foots the bill? And
for how long will the UNSCOM inspection continue in Iraq? And while
UNSCOM is busy in Iraq, couldn't the Iraqi leadership take a foreign
site and pursue its biological weapons program in some other countries
that are against U.S. interests so to say? Thank you very much.


MR. ZILINSKAS: Thank you. That's a very comprehensive question, and a
good one. As far as UNSCOM and the agency operations, there are three
faces or three aspects to those. The first one is the search and
destroy. The second one has to do with ongoing -- the long-term
ongoing monitoring and verification. And the third is with
export-import controls.


So, going back to the search and destroy, this means that the UNSCOM
and the agency have gone and found all the weapons of mass destruction
there are and have destroyed them as well as related facilities. So
that is pretty well accomplished.


Now, the information that has been collected during the first phase --
now, it goes -- it feeds into the second phase, which is a long-term
ongoing monitoring verification program. This has been run out of
Baghdad by permanently placed inspectors at the Kanal (sp) Hotel in
Baghdad. These inspectors -- there are about three of them in each one
of these four disciplines -- the nuclear, chemical, biological and
missile disciplines. They go out on a daily basis inspecting over 200
facilities, and they also monitor something like 30 to 40 camera --
video and television cameras -- that are in place in the most
threatening sites. They also service something like 60 to 80 air
samplers that are located throughout the country and that collect
samples of air every hour around the clock. And these samples are then
taken to the Kanal (sp) Hotel where they are analyzed for chemical and
nuclear residues to detect any forbidden activities.


But this ongoing monitoring and verification program is theoretically
to continue forever. So who knows how long -- I guess until UNSCOM or
the United Nations Security Council decides to remove this program --
perhaps when the regime changes. But anyway that -- right now it is
supposed to continue forever.


And the third part is the export-import control regime, which will be
instituted once these economic sanctions are lifted. And of course
that will control the inflow and outflow of dual-use equipment.


The funding of this comes from Iraq themselves. Part of the money that
is being raised by their selling oil and that is supposed to buy the
medical supplies and the food -- part of that also pays for the United
Nations' activities, and that kind of arrangement will continue for
the foreseeable future.


As far as the -- what was the last question?



MR. BERTEL: Perhaps we could get them to restate the final question.


Q: The final question was: Who foots the bill at the end of the day?
And while you are inspecting these sites in Iraq, isn't it possible
that the Iraqi leadership could be developing weapons in foreign
sites? That was the last one.


MR. ZILINSKAS: Yes, I did deal with the funding aspect. But the last
one has to do with whether or not the Iraqis can hide it in some way,
either internally or externally. And of course you can never prove the
negative. There is a possibility that the Iraqi government can
construct facilities for example underground away from UNSCOM
observation, and that's a possibility. But it would be very, very
expensive. And of course if it was discovered, which I think there is
a high probability it would be, then the political price would be
very, very high.


As far as externally, there have been reports in the U.S. press saying
that the Iraqis have -- what should we say? -- subordinated some of
their works to especially Sudan and to Libya. I can't tell you on
that, except that it would be fairly easy to secund the scientists,
technicians, engineers to these countries so that they can help these
countries build up their weapons of mass destruction programs and of
course hone their skills, so should they want to come back to Iraq
that they would be available immediately with very high skills to do
so, to reestablish these weapons programs. But as far as having any
special information on this, I don't. Thank you.


Q: Good afternoon, Dr. Zilinskas. My name Jonas Aquara (sp) and I
write for the Post Express in Lagos. My questions are threefold.
Number one is at the end of the day -- you know, after this assignment
and say after Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed
by the U.N., I would like to know whether the U.N. has any program to
sanction countries, weapon countries, that were said to have helped
Iraq develop these weapons. And then the second question is so far
what we have heard is all about Iraq's biological and chemical
weapons. We would like to know if Iraq also has a nuclear weapons
program and whether that has also been destroyed.


Okay, the third one, I think you kind of glossed over it -- it has to
do with Israel. Now we all know Israel has weapons of mass destruction
and some of us here are concerned to know if what is happening to Iraq
might be expanded to Israel. Thank you.


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, thank you for those questions. As far as the U.N.
sanctions, it's not really U.N. related whenever a nation decides to
break an arms control agreement it really -- the methods for one
should say instituting sanctions in that country is spelled out in the
convention itself. As I mentioned before, the Chemical Weapons
Convention has a provision that says that any allegations are to be
investigated by the technical agency, and there is some sort of
political resolutions by the general governing body. And that
governing body then says or decides on what kind of sanctions should
be instituted. And the same thing with the Biological Weapons
Convention, and the same thing with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. So
the U.N. does not really ever institute sanctions. That is done by the
member countries of whatever arms control agreement is being broken.


And the second, about the nuclear aspects, the agency -- first, Iraq
had a very, very extensive nuclear weapons acquisition program. They
had learned from their 1982 bombings by Israel, so everything was
underground. And it was really very extensive -- much more extensive
than I guess the worst-case scenario by the intelligence agencies.
They had these separators, they had I guess thousands of people
involved. There was a multibillion dollar program. But as far as we
know all that has been found by the agency has been destroyed. So for
the Iraqis to reconstitute this program would be very, very expensive
and would take a very long time. Well, not very long, but I would
estimate if the agency was kicked out of the country and the Iraqis
decided to go full blast on reacquiring nuclear weapons, it would take
them about five years to get back to the point where they were in
1991, and then it would take another two or three years to actually
acquire some sort of nuclear device.


Well, the Israeli situation, as you noted before, is not something
that I feel comfortable discussing at this time. I can only tell you
that there is a big difference between Iraqis going into Kuwait and
overt aggression against a neighboring country, and then being
defeated in war and agreeing to the elements of Security Council
Resolution 687, which calls for inspections, de-arming, and ongoing
monitoring and verification; and Israel which has not that in this
way, and which has not been defeated, and which has not been subject
to any kind of Security Council resolution as far as disarmament is
concerned. Thank you.


Q: Back to Lagos I'm Morris again. Has there been a situation where
Israel ever used biological or chemical weapons in a past war? And on
the other hand has Iraq been found to have used biological or chemical
weapons in any war in the past? I would like to know. And given your
experience -- (inaudible) -- in the event of Iraq developing these
weapons and actually using them, would that not suffice in protecting
the people of Israel and Kuwait?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, I have no knowledge that Israel ever used any
weapons of mass destruction against anybody, including chemical or
biological weapons. As far as I have seen their efforts have been
strictly defense.


Iraq has used chemical weapons -- first in the Iranian conflict, the
so-called first Gulf War. They used mustard and nerve agents against
the Iranians. And this has been pretty conclusively -- well, it has
been conclusively proven by several inspections run by the General
Assembly. They also used chemical weapons against the Kurdish minority
in the north, and we still are not really sure what they used. The
photos we have seen of that, the videos we have seen seem to indicate
that the mothers and the children just fell down in the streets, and
there were streets full of these bodies of civilians. It seems to
indicate that it was either an immediate deadly agent such as cyanide,
but more likely it was some sort of nerve agent. So they certainly
have used that, and nobody doubts that anymore, at least among the
United Nations member states.


They have not, as far as we know, used any biological agents. They
had, as I said, 200 weapons. They had something like 160 bombs, 25
long-range Scud missiles and dozens of rockets all ready to go at the
time of Desert Storm. But as far as we know they did not actually
deploy them in the battlefield or against any civilian population.


The third aspect, having to do with -- well, what kind of likely
targets. I think the intent of the Iraqi program is still unclear, and
that might be one of the information -- or shall we say one of the
pieces of information that they are protecting so much. It seems to me
that these kind of weapons would work most against an unprotected
population; in other words a population that doesn't have the gas
masks, don't have the equipment to resist, or are taken by surprise,
and that seems to be -- that could fit many of the civilian
populations of many of the countries around that region. Thank you.


Q: Once more my name is Jonas Aquara (sp) and I write for the Post.
Late last year we had a similar crisis when Iraq -- Saddam Hussein
barred American members of the inspection team in visiting. This year
again it appears we have -- it's a rehash of the whole thing. We are
happy that somehow the U.N. secretary general was able to sign a deal
with the Iraqi leadership. But we would like to know right here what
makes you this time to think that Iraq will comply, particularly
considering the fact that the destruction was imposed on Iraq by the
U.N., it has been in place?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, this is what we call the $64 question here: Will
the Iraqis do what they said they are going to do? And I think early
indications are that they are not. Ambassador Hamdoon has already said
that these special teams that are going to go in there are to be
headed by diplomats, while Richard Butler in the next room is saying
that they are going to be headed by UNSCOM inspectors. And the record,
as I said before of Iraqis collaborating or cooperating with UNSCOM on
this whole sensitive sites issue has been very, very poor. You have to
remember that they came to an agreement with Ekeus -- that was an
agreement between Tariq Aziz and Rolf Ekeus in June 1996 which covered
so-called sensitive sites. Well, that only meant then when the UNSCOM
tried to access these presidential palaces that the Iraqis made a new
term called "sovereign" site and said that the United Nations shall
never access these. Well, now we have another agreement saying --
covering eight of the sovereign sites. So the question is what is
going to happen with the other 41-plus sovereign sites that are not
covered by this agreement. We don't know. And I must say that I have
some real serious concerns whether or not we are going to see a new
iteration of this whole sensitive site issue within a very short time.


MR. BERTEL: We are quickly running short of time. Let's return to
Vilnius now for another question.


Q: Thanks very much for another possibility to ask a question, the
final question. Dr. Zilinskas, how would you evaluate the possibility
of Baltic States' contribution by sending military experts or troops
into the Gulf region? I mean, would you welcome such a decision if it
was made by the Lithuanian government?


MR. ZILINSKAS: Well, I don't think there is any possibility of sending
troops right now. We don't have that kind of situation. If there is a
so-called military solution eventually, I am sure the United States
government would try to broaden its support to include the Baltic
States. However, I think UNSCOM -- and I'm not -- this is hypothesis
-- I would think both UNSCOM and the agency would welcome experts from
the Baltic countries to form inspections -- to take part in inspection
teams. And, as I said before, UNSCOM and the agency asks all
supporting governments for experts. So I would highly, highly
recommend the Baltic governments to make their experts available to
the agency and UNSCOM for the inspection process.


MR. BERTEL: And I'm afraid we're out of time. We'll have to end our
discussion there. My thanks to Dr. Raymond Zilinskas for taking time
to join us for this important discussion.


MR. ZILINSKAS:  Thank you. It was a real pleasure to be here.



MR. BERTEL: It was good to have you. And my thanks also to our
participants at Nile TV, Lithuania's state television, and also our
guests in Lagos. In Washington, I'm Jim Bertel for Worldnet.


(End transcript)