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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
US doubts Iraq checks could work
UN weapons inspectors in Iraq
The UN has demanded the unconditional return of inspectors
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has expressed scepticism about the chances of re-establishing an effective weapons inspection process in Iraq.

He also dismissed the latest remarks from Baghdad, in which the idea of more weapons inspections were rejected, describing them as being like a "broken record".


If you can't get access to people to get information, and access on a basis that they feel safe and that their families feel safe, it would seem to me it would be very difficult

Donald Rumsfeld
Mr Rumsfeld insisted that for inspections to work inspectors must be able to go anywhere in Iraq and talk to anyone at any time.

But in a speech last week the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, made it clear he was not prepared to permit the unconditional return of inspectors.

Mr Rumsfeld said that even if inspectors were allowed back into Iraq the atmosphere of fear that pervades the country would make it difficult to uncover weapons of mass destruction.

Informants

Stressing that in the past some of the most revealing information came from defectors, Mr Rumsfeld said that inspectors would need access to potential informants outside of the country.

Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld says informants and their families would need to be removed

He also said that their families would also have to be removed to ensure their safety.

"You'd have to be undoubtedly able to talk to anyone. You'd have to be able to, sometimes, talk to people outside of the country with their families with them," Mr Rumsfeld said.

"So if you can't get access to people to get information, and access on a basis that they feel safe and that their families feel safe, it would seem to me it would be very difficult," he added.

Defying the UN

Mr Rumsfeld recalled that two defectors were killed when they returned to Iraq and that even Saddam Hussein's own son-in-law was executed for revealing information that led to discoveries about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programme.

Mr Rumsfeld said Baghdad's latest statements over weapons inspections were like a "broken record" and he insisted that the Iraqis were in violation of United Nations resolutions.

On Tuesday Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said that Baghdad was still formulating its response to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's demand for unconditional inspections.

Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf said on Monday that the UN inspections were "finished" and there was no need for any more.


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