NEWS YOU WON'T FIND ON CNN

 

Still Chasing Saddam's Weapons
Tonight we reveal just what the weapon hunters have found and why it doesn't substantiate many of the statements made by the politicians who took us to war.

Broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 23 November, 2003.

 

PANORAMA 

STILL CHASING SADDAM'S WEAPONS
RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC-1 DATE: 23:11:03
........................................................................

JANE CORBIN: Panorama is going on a hunt for Saddam's illusive weapons. 

The Scientific Bureau was a front company for the Ministry of Defence. They engaged in a lot of legal 
activity but also some illegal activities.

CORBIN: It's the first time any outsider has been on a mission with the Iraq Survey Group. 

OFFICER: And heading up towards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and we'll head up to Street 15.

CORBIN: The stakes are high. The reputations of a Prime Minister and a President are on the line.

OFFICER: Get out and secure the area. EOD will enter the building first. 

CORBIN: They said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, that's why we went to war. Every 
day for the past 4 months these hunters have hoped to strike lucky. 

This is a surprise trip right into the heart of down town Baghdad. The team is hoping that they're going to 
find not only relevant documents but also Iraqis who can tell them something about the programmes of 
mass destruction. Tonight we reveal just what the weapon hunters have found and why it doesn't 
substantiate many of the statements made by the politicians who took us to war. 

On the outskirts of Baghdad lie rusted remains, Iraq's feared armoury. No weapons of mass destruction, 
just old tanks, battlefield rockets and artillery. Yet George Bush and Tony Blair had been adamant before 
the war that Saddam Hussein was a current and serious threat. The danger, they suggested, was imminent.

24th September 2002
BLAIR: The weapons of mass destruction programme is not shut down, it is up and running now.

26th September 2002
BUSH: The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime 
possesses biological and chemical weapons.

24th September 2002
BLAIR: He has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons which 
could be activated within 45 minutes including…. 

CORBIN: But there was no Iraqi order to fire weapons of mass destruction as coalition troops advanced. 
The chemical and biological shells they confidently expected to find within days never materialised. Now 
the Iraq Survey group continues the hunt for the weapons the politicians and intelligence agencies told us 
existed. The ISG has received a tip off that this small Iraqi pharmaceutical company was secretly importing 
materials to make long-range missiles for Saddam Hussein. The company's own website makes clear its 
view of America's war against terror.

SOLDIER: [reference to material found] Bulls eye on Bush, note to make this the home page. 

CORBIN: The public were led to expect that coalition soldiers would unearth warheads filled with nerve 
gas and anthrax, but they're dismantling computers instead.

MAJ SUTTER: The good thing is we found a lot of email addresses, we found a lot of names of 
individuals that we're already aware of and other contacts that they've worked with, so that's a good start 
right there.

CORBIN: Then they find blueprints which reveal this drug firm was really a front company for military 
procurement. 

SUTTER: We're finding a lot of standard pharmaceutical stuff on the top of each pile, and usually when 
you go down through, you find more about military applications, radar, body armour and a number of other 
items in here. A lot of chemicals mentioned here, probably most are pharmaceuticals, we're interested in 
certain ones that could be used for propellant applications.

JANE CORBIN
There's an order for 500 tons of a chemical used in propellant missile fuel. The ISG Group has been here 
for about 2 hours now and they say it is worth taking these boxes back. There are files of interest to them. 
But the big question is, how significant would all this turn out to be. The prospect of finding the smoking 
gun has faded. Now there's just a giant puzzle the ISG has to piece together.

Major JOHN SUTTER
Iraq Survey Group
We found lots of documents where they were trying to go around legal ways to purchase these things, and 
again it's a front company, so we've got lots of information. We didn't find the things we were looking for 
but we're going to have to sit down and do the research to try to make to the missile firms. And so yes, 
there's no single large missile that we've found or a chemical that we've found. But we've found a lot of 
small pieces so far and we just need to continue this find.

CORBIN: It took two months from the end of the war to set up the Iraq Survey Group and begin the 
systematic search for the weapons. A thousand experts from America, Britain and Australia were brought 
together. A US led group took over an old palace of Saddam's renamed 'Camp Slayer'. It was trashed and 
looted like many of the places in Iraq they were interested in. The coalition's failure to secure sites and 
preserve evidence created a problem for the ISG from the start. In the new command centre the murals 
proclaimed Iraq's military might, but what was the truth? Did they possess forbidden weapons? It was the 
ISG's task to find out. 

DR KAY: This document gives you a good view of the grandeur of this complex, and in fact you can't even 
see all of it here, and that was a Ba'ath convention centre in the middle of the lake. This is what was to be a 
main presidential palace still under construction at the time of the war.

CORBIN: Under fire for their intelligence estimates before the war, the CIA chose a man they called their 
'ramrod' to head up the ISG. David Kay was close to the Pentagon too. Dr Kay, an ex-UN inspector who'd 
helped uncover Iraq's past nuclear programme started knowing political futures could rest on his findings.

DR DAVID KAY
Iraq Survey Group
The entire credibility of both the US and I must say I think British foreign policy and intelligence has been 
called into question by our inability to find the weapons immediately. I think we all realise after Iraq we 
really do have to readjust our intelligence services for the new demands posed by countries like Iraq and 
others. We're not going to know how to make that adjustment until we know what the lessons learned here, 
what was the ground truth?

CORBIN: Dr Kay's own credibility was also at stake. A supporter of regime change before the war, he'd 
been convinced Saddam had WMD. 

17th September 2002
KAY: If you want to disarm Iraq, remove it's weapons of mass destruction, there is no alternative to 
replacing the regime.

18th December 2002
KAY: Essentially, everyone who runs an active intelligence service knows this regime has been seeking 
weapons of mass destruction. 

14th April 2003
KAY: Oh I think it's there and it's got to be found and that is the new priority. The administration has to 
invest the effort and the people into doing it. 

CORBIN: Some Washington insiders were concerned about David Kay's appointment. Greg Fieldman was 
a Director in the State Department's Intelligence Bureau until six months before the war.

GREG THIELMANN
State Dept Intelligence Bureau 1998-2002
My only concern about David Kay is that he doesn't have the reputation for objectivity and care in precisely 
describing what the evidence is. I'm not concerned that his group is still seeking evidence. I would look 
forward to seeing whatever he comes up with but his position was so outspoken on the outset I worry a little 
bit about his objectivity. 

CORBIN: Dr Kay's critics pointed to remarks he'd made just after the war but before he joined the ISG 
about two captured Iraqi trailers.

KAY: … nutrients. Think of it as sort of a chicken soup for biological weapons.

CORBIN: David Kay judged these vehicles to be mobile production facilities for biological weapons.

11th May 2003
KAY: Literally there is nothing else you would do this way on a mobile facility. That is it. 

CORBIN: The CIA was also quick to declare the trailer's part of a mobile biological weapons programme. 
Tony Blair and George Bush seized on the find. 

2nd June 2003
BLAIR: I would point out to you we already have, according to our experts, two mobile biological 
weapons facilities.

30th May 2003
BUSH: We've found the weapons of mass destruction, we found biological laboratories. 

KAY: I wish that news hadn't come out. We're still under active investigation trying to figure it out. My 
standard of proof is that you need documentation, you need physical evidence or analytical proof, and you 
need Iraqis who were involved in the programme who can testify as to what you've found.

CORBIN: The infamous trailers are parked on a back lot at Camp Slayer, but you don’t hear much about 
them now. The Iraqis claim they produced hydrogen to fill weather balloons on an artillery range. Because 
some pipes are missing, experts can't tell if they carried a gas or a liquid biological agent. The vessel at the 
centre of each trailer is the biggest mystery of all. The experts are pretty much split 50/50 on this bit of kit. 
Is it a fomenter to brew deadly germs or a vessel to produce hydrogen. Somebody even suggested it 
resembles a giant coffee peculator. Exhaustive testing of the equipment failed to reveal any trace of 
biological weapons agent. Reluctantly, by July, the ISG leader conceded everyone had been rather hasty. 

It was premature to announce them as being that definitely and embarrassing.

KAY: I think it was premature and embarrassing. That's exactly what we're trying to do. That's why I'm so 
reticent in my discussion with you essentially in early July when we're talking now, because I don’t want 
this.. I don’t want the mobile biological production facilities fiasco of May to be the model of the future.

CORBIN: As they moved into Camp Slayer the ISG team adopted a forensic approach to the hunt. 
Frontline troops had failed to find anything at sites identified before the war. The search would now 
concentrate on people and records. Iraq had been a bureaucratic nation. Members of Saddam's regime tried 
to destroy many documents as they fled. But the mountains of paperwork of ministries, barracks and 
factories was soon collected at Camp Slayer.

SOLDIER: There's no exact figure been done but we estimate it's about 7˝ miles if it was laid end to end.

CORBIN: Twelve years ago, after the first Gulf War, it was a paper trail which led UN inspectors to Iraq's 
hidden weapons programmes. For decades denial and deception had been built in to the very fabric of the 
regime. But clues had been inadvertently been revealed in documents. That's where the ISG began, sifting 
through tons of paper. Selected documents were passed to the heart of the operation. The secret 
intelligence analysts working with translators. Their job – to identify any Iraqi who might be involved in 
producing, storing or moving weapons of mass destruction.

OFFICER: Could I get everybody's attention again. What we're looking for are high ranking officials 
starting with major and above, working with Special Republican Guard, Republican Guard.

This is a Special Security Force and it's about information.

CORBIN: The mood of the Iraq Survey Group in July was upbeat. But a change of language was already 
detectable with less emphasis on finding actual weapons.

Dr DAVID KAY
Iraq Survey Group
I can say that we've already found enough evidence to convince me that we will be successful, if you judge 
success by finding a weapons programme that involved weapons of mass destruction.

CORBIN: What about the weapons themselves, because I think the public expected to see weapons lined 
up ready to use against our troops.

KAY: Well, if I'd found weapons ready to be used and lined up I'd be breaking news. I just don’t know. 
We're looking for them. The Iraqis engaged in quite a bit of destruction and dispersal effort prior to the 
war, certainly during the war and after the war, and that's why it's not an easy task.

CORBIN: In New York another man who'd found Iraq no easy task is retiring as Mr Kay began his hunt. 
Dr Hans Blix's UN teams had searched Iraq for weapons of mass destruction just before the war. He 
suspected Iraq might have forbidden research programmes, but Dr Blix came under fire from the Americans 
for failing to find stockpiles of anthrax and weapons. In June Dr Blix also noticed there was more emphasis 
now not on the weapons but on Iraq's so-called capabilities and programmes.

Dr HANS BLIX
UN Weapons Inspector 2000-2003 
I've even seen American spokesmen sort of veering in that direction rather than talking about big stocks of 
the supplies, talking about the capability and programme. That's conceivable. Saddam might have said that 
one day we'll be out of sanctions and then we can do.. can do these programmes again, that is possible. But 
that doesn't.. did not make them into an imminent danger. 

CORBIN: A year ago the message coming from Washington and London was that Saddam's Hussein's 
regime posed a current and serious threat. In the US the President and his officials raised the ultimate 
spectre of modern warfare, the nuclear bomb. 

7th October 2002
BUSH: They've seen clear evidence of peril. We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that 
could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. 

8th September 2002
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear 
weapons, but we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

23rd September 2002 
RICHARD PERLE: I don’t know what sort of evidence… a mushroom cloud would be a powerful 
statement, but do you want to wait for that?

CORBIN: These aluminium tubes became a weapon in the hawks armoury to make their case Iraq was 
reconstituting its nuclear programme. UN inspectors believed Iraq's explanation. The tubes were for 
conventional battlefield rockets. But David Kay agreed with the President's officials who said the tubes 
were for centrifuges to enrich uranium for a bomb. He talked to Panorama last year.

Panorama 
September 2002

Dr DAVID KAY
I've seen one of them. The centrifuge tubes look like they're of the design which is German derived, that 
the Iraqis acquired some time in the 1980s and developed, therefore enriching uranium, that is taking 
natural uranium up to the level that makes it useful for a weapon.

CORBIN: But Mr Kay's statement glossed over an intense debate in Washington. Energy Department 
officials, the foremost experts, said the tubes were not suitable for centrifuges. And many in the State 
Department believed Iraq's nuclear programme was dormant.

GREG THIELMANN
State Dept Intelligence Bureau 1998-2002
This is something that became controversial within the US government. We certainly thought it was 
plausible that the Iraqis might be doing this. But over time the State Department Intelligence Bureau was 
convinced by some of the best experts in the US government and elsewhere on centrifuges that this 
particular type of aluminum was not suitable for use in a nuclear weapons programme. 

12th September 2002

CORBIN: But in a keynote speech at the UN before the war President Bush used the tubes as proof Iraq 
was reactivating its nuclear weapons programme. 

BUSH: Iraq has made several attempts to buy high strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a 
nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a 
year.

THIELMANN: The President in his speech to the United Nations in September of 2002 just made a flat 
assertion, this aluminum was for a nuclear weapons programme. No acknowledgment whatsoever that 
there was any controversy. 

CORBIN: Why was that? What was he trying to do, do you think?

THIELMANN: Well, he was trying to build a case that Iraq posed an imminent danger, and there's no 
better way to scare the American people than to conjure up a mushroom cloud.

CORBIN: The Iraq Survey Group's first missions went out looking for evidence of nuclear weapons 
facilities, but after several months the ISG concluded and then stated publicly that there was no evidence 
that Iraq had an active nuclear programme just before the war. It was no comfort to the US administration.

THIELMANN: I mean this was basically David Kay as the President's hand chosen leader of the Iraq's 
survey group acknowledging that the President was dead wrong in his information to the world on the most 
important category of weapons of mass destruction.

Dr DAVID KAY
Iraq Survey Group
To date we have found only small indications of interest in centrifusion, not even anything I would call a 
restart of the centrifusion programme.

CORBIN: So pretty dormant.

KAY: I wouldn't say it was dormant. There are signs of new interest in it but it was certainly not a 
vigorous ongoing programme. 

CORBIN: Though Saddam was still interested in nuclear weapons, the UN had dismantled his nuclear 
infrastructure and placed his raw stocks of uranium under guard in 1991. Sanctions appear to have made it 
impossible for Saddam to reactivate his nuclear programme. So where did that leave Mr Kay's certainty 
about the tubes?

KAY: Well the problem we have with the tubes is the tubes a year ago.. two years ago when we weren't in 
the country we were just looking at the tubes themselves, and the tubes looked like they were suitable for 
centrifuge, and in fact I still think, if I were only looking at the tubes, they were suitable for the centrifuge. 
Now we've got a great advantage now, we're inside the country, so we don’t have to grasp at straws of 
evidence. 

CORBIN: Straws of evidence, Dr Kay's description of some of the intelligence that took us to war in Iraq. 
There was other evidence too, it came from defectors who provided a window on the brutal regime in a 
country western intelligence found difficult to penetrate. This man, Ahmad Chalabi, Leader of the 
opposition Iraqi National Congress, ran a US funded intelligence and propaganda campaign. He brought 
some of the defectors to the world's attention.

Dr AHMAD CHALABI
Leader, Iraqi National Congress
We evaluated that these people knew what they were talking about and we handed them over, but it's not 
our job to make an intelligence assessment for the government of the United States or for the governments 
of Britain. They have very large agencies to do so.

CORBIN: Since the war the claims of several defectors promoted by the INC have come under further 
scrutiny. Last September a nuclear physicist who called himself Saddam's bomb-maker spoke to Panorama. 
In an interview we decided not to broadcast Kadir Hamza said he had inside information that Iraq had 
revived its nuclear programme. 

September 2002

HAMZA: Iraq is on a more accelerated pace of trying to achieve nuclear weapons before it is stopped by 
inspections or war or otherwise.

CORBIN: We didn't broadcast our interview with Dr Hamza because several sources suggested he wasn't 
credible. The claims had already made front page news across the world. The State Department had their 
doubts about him, but Dr Hamza appeared before Congress and was sited by the President and top US 
officials.

15th January 2003
DONALD RUMSFELD: As I've said repeatedly, I honestly believe that the way information is gained is 
through defectors.

7th Cavalry October 2002
BUSH: Information from a high ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his 
public promises Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear programme to continue.

GREG THIELMANN
State Department Intelligence Bureau 1998-2002
It looks now like it did then to some of us that one has to be very careful with human intelligence. 
Particularly intelligence from the Iraqi National Congress and others who had an obvious motivation to 
alarm foreign governments about what Saddam Hussein was doing. And saw a whole collection of people 
in the US government who were making very strong arguments in advance that Iraq was pursuing all of 
these weapons.

CORBIN: The man who helped bring some of the defectors to the west's attention is now back in Baghdad, 
with Saddam's removal Dr Chalabi is now enjoying a taste of power as a leading member of the Iraqi 
interim governing council.

Does it matter at the end of the day if the defector's claims weren't found to be true and the war happened, 
you got what you wanted at the end of the day?

Dr AHMAD CHALABI
Leader, Iraqi National Congress
Indeed we are proud that we got what we wanted. We are back in Baghdad, we are back in Iraq and Iraq is 
now… the Iraqi people are much better off than they were under Saddam, and they will be much better off 
in the future.

CORBIN: By August the heat was on the Iraq's Survey Group at Camp Slayer. It was now three months 
since the end of the war and no weapons of mass destruction had been found. Missions got underway to 
follow up information found in the documents. People had been traced and some Iraqis had come forward 
to offer tips on where the weapons might be found. Twelve ISG teams spread out to begin searching 120 
huge ammunition dumps. They were looking for hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons which the 
politicians and intelligence agencies said existed before the war, along with plans for their deployment.

5th February 2003
COLIN POWELL: A conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons 
of chemical weapons agents. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.

24th September 2002
BLAIR: The dossier shows that Iraq continues to produce chemical agent for chemical weapons, has rebuilt 
previously destroyed production plants across Iraq.

Panorama
July 2003

Dr HANS BLIX
UN Weapons Inspector 2000-2003
I had several conversations with Tony Blair and my definite impression was that he was convinced.. 
subjectively convinced that they had weapons of mass destruction. He was not fooling me at all. But the 
analysis of it, the examination of it, that had been made by his staff, or himself, he had had time, was not 
sufficiently critical.

CORBIN: Not sufficiently critical?

BLIX: No.

CORBIN: Again and again ISG teams returned to Camp Slayer without finding any weapons of mass 
destruction. It was an exhausting, frustrating task. Brigadier John Deverall, the British Deputy Commander 
of the Iraq Survey Group led a two week mission to the Al Asad Airbase. 

Brigadier JOHN DEVERALL
Iraq Survey Group
We went through a total of some two and a half thousand tons of conventional ammunition in order to try to 
find the jokers in the pack.

CORBIN: Several Iraqis had claimed that chemical weapons were hidden at the base amongst a batch of 
conventional munitions. 

DEVERALL: Based on a apparently good information, based on an awful lot of physical searching, based 
on over 100 people from across the board in terms of speciality, and teams working in tandem, we found 
nothing.

CORBIN: But doesn't it show, surely, that the intelligence was wrong, it was wrong before the war and the 
intelligence you've been given subsequently is wrong as well.

DEVERALL: For all we could assess the intelligence might well have been correct. The point was, when 
we came to do the uncovering there was nothing left to uncover that we could find.

CORBIN: So, where is it?

DEVERALL: It is indeed conceivable the intelligence was wrong, but bearing in mind it was multi-sourced 
I think conceivable they were removed, conceivable they were hidden elsewhere and or destroyed. But so 
far impossible to tell with that particular batch. 

CORBIN: It was a familiar story to Hans Blix now home in Sweden writing a book. By now the ISG had 
had the same time on the ground in post-Saddam Iraq as the UN had been given before the war and had 
found no weapons. But Dr Blix himself had been suspicious. He had not received satisfactory proof from 
the Iraqis that they had destroyed their WMD a decade earlier as they claimed. 

You helped to create this impression they were there.

BLIX: In a way we did, because we certainly didn't exclude that they had them. But it's true that we did say 
that this is unaccounted for, and I also warned the Security Council that you cannot jump from that to 
saying that they have it.

DEVERALL: Certainly we need more time to find evidence of the weapons themselves, or what's 
happened to them. But it's not just about the shiny weapons themselves.

CORBIN: Well as far as the public is concerned, it is about the shiny weapons because that's what led us to 
war, that was the imminent threat.

DEVERALL: But you have to look at things in a more detailed way and certainly the ISG has worked for 
three months involving interviewing over 500 Iraqis who have been possibly complicit in these 
programmes, indicate that you're looking at a much deeper area here.

CORBIN: Unless the ISG find proof WMD existed before the war, Mr Blair's claim that some weapons 
could be deployed within 45 minutes can't be substantiated. So could it be that Iraqi officials were telling 
the truth when they claimed they'd long since destroyed all the weapons. In January I went to lunch in 
Baghdad with the man responsible for satisfying the UN that Iraq no longer had WMD. A key figure in the 
weapons programmes in the past, Dr Amer Al Sa'adi insisted they'd destroyed all the stockpiles in 1991, but 
there were no records or independent witnesses.

The West still doesn't seem to believe Iraq, there's still this feeling you're hiding something, that you're not 
really laying out your cards on the table.

General AMER AL SA'ADI
Adviser to Saddam Hussein
Well how else can they justify their military build up? They must portray things as not being satisfactory, 
that Iraq is holding back, Iraq is hiding things. How else can they justify their actions to their public? If we 
have something, we will produce it. We will be happy to produce it, to get rid of it and get done. But we 
don’t… we don’t. What do we do?

CORBIN: When I returned to Baghdad in the summer, the restaurant had escaped the bombs and the 
looting, but my host was no longer available for lunch. He'd discovered he was one of the infamous deck of 
cards the US wanted list, and so Dr Al Sa'adi chose to give himself up. The city was still violent and 
lawless and the doctor's family had been holed up for weeks at home in a suburb of Baghdad. 

HELMA AL-SA'ADI: [showing photograph] My husband and the older son and the younger son.

CORBIN: Helma, Dr Sa'adi's German wife had heard nothing from him for months, since he disappeared 
into US custody. She insisted he was innocent and couldn't understand why he hadn't been released.

HELMA AL-SA'ADI
He was so convinced about what he had always said, and up to the… half an hour before he left, and he 
went to the Americans, he said that I know there is nothing to be found and I've always said that and I'm 
repeating it again and time will bear me out. These were his sort of last words, I remember very well.

CORBIN: Dr Al Sa'adi is being held at Camp Slayer in a special prison. He is one of the high value 
detainees as the ISG calls them. Top officials and scientists from Saddam Hussein's regime. 

What about Dr Amoral Sa'adi, you're now holding him. Is he saying anything and what do you really think 
about his role?

Dr DAVID KAY
Iraq Survey Group
Well we are talking to him and he is talking. Do I think it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth? No 
indeed I do not. I think Dr Sa'adi continues to vital pieces of information, but we're actively talking to him. 
In fact I think Dr Sa'adi was extremely important over the years. 

CORBIN: But by September the interrogations of Dr Saadi and other high ranking Iraqis haven't led to the 
discovery of any weapons. The ISG team, now 1400 strong, was about to deliver its first report. Criticism 
of both the British Prime Minister and the President was growing, and so was the pressure on David Kay.

KAY: I just want to produce the facts and others have to draw the answers of what were the differences and 
what are the implications of any differences that exist.

CORBIN: You've found no weapons at all so far, actual weapons.

KAY: We have found no actual weapons of mass destruction that exist at this point. But, having said that, 
and I know that sounds like a pretty struggling statement, you know how large this country is. The situation 
that we found ourselves in for example, we didn't start until June, there had been widespread looting in 
April and May. Material had disappeared, it's a huge country. It's not possible to easily move around.

GREG THIELMANN
State Dept Intelligence Bureau 1998-2002
I think he's in a very delicate position. He's obviously struggling with a desire to maintain his own personal 
integrity and also probably a political understanding that he is failing in his mission as assigned by the 
White House to get this troublesome issue behind him.

CORBIN: In October I went with David Kay as he investigated suspicions Iraq had a biological weapons 
programme. Before the war the politicians insisted on the basis of intelligence that Iraq was producing such 
weapons.

24th September 2002
BLAIR: … that they have now got such facilities. The biological agents we believe Iraq can produce 
include anthrax, botulinum, toxin, aflatoxin and ricin; all eventually result in excruciatingly painful death.

5th February 2003
POWELL: There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to 
rapidly produce more, many more, and he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in 
ways that can cause massive death and destruction. 

KILLIP: We've been through this headquarters building here, it's taken us quite a long time through all the 
documents.

KAY: Any documents?

KILLIP: Lots of documents.

CORBIN: The ISG was looking at evidence Iraq had misled the UN at this agricultural research centre 
south of Baghdad. 

KILLIP: Okay, what you've got down this side is a whole series of laboratories and I think… 

CORBIN: A former UN inspector with long experience of Iraq's WMD, Hamish Killip had been 
conducting an inventory to see what was here and determine if anything had been removed.

HAMISH KILLIP: There's a bit of looting here. Clearly things that had been ripped out from the wall like 
that, that looks like looting. On the other hand, there are buildings that we do find here where you come 
into a place like this and it is suspiciously clean, there is absolutely nothing left, and you know that was 
done some time ago.

CORBIN: In the past Iraqi scientists lied, denying they'd developed a military bio weapons programme they 
hid it behind civilian facilities. Under a crucial UN resolution 1441 Iraq was given one last chance to 
declare equipment which could be used in forbidden programmes. Here the ISG say they've found evidence 
of Iraq's deception.

KAY: It is interesting that this fomenter was not declared. I mean that in and of itself is a violation of 
1441. That fomenter was subject to declaration. 

CORBIN: And it ends up in a biological laboratory context.

HAMISH KILLIP
Iraq Survey Group
It ends up in a highly secure, highly competent centre of excellence of Iraqi science which is, as you saw, 
you came in, extremely well protected, one of their secret enclaves in the country. Yes, I mean the context 
of this is very strange.

CORBIN: The ISG now says the fomenter was suitable for culturing bio warfare germs, but testing hasn't 
shown that it was used for this purpose. So far the strongest indication that Iraq may have continued a 
clandestine programme is the ISG's discovery of 97 samples reference strains. A scientist had kept them 
hidden in his fridge at home for the past ten years. One of the test tubes or vials contained an organism 
called botulinum. 

What about the vial of botulinum that was found? I mean how dangerous is it? I mean could it have been 
used for biological weapons?

KILLIP: No, that was for diagnostic purposes. It was not one of the strains that Iraq weaponised. 

CORBIN: But the suggestion is that it could have been used.

KILLIP: It's something that Iraq should have declared to us. It's like other bits of equipment you've seen 
here today. Iraq had an obligation to tell us about these things and it did not do so, and that in itself breaks 
1441.

CORBIN: But not a substance that could have been weaponised.

KILLIP: Not as a vial, no.

CORBIN: This Iraqi ministry was responsible for declaring to the UN any items remaining from Iraq's past 
weapons programme. I'd been here before the war, when UN inspectors were searching the country. 

This place has been pretty much cleared out, hasn't it? There's nothing left.

In January in the Ministry I'd been allowed to meet a Ba'ath Party official and senior scientist whom, it now 
turned out, had given the botulinum to her colleague to hide. Dr Rihab Taha, the woman UN inspectors 
called Dr Germ, had trained in Britain and had used her skills in Iraq's past bio weapons programme. She 
admitted she'd played a key role in developing anthrax and botulinum for Iraq's self-defence she claimed.

Panorama
February 2002

Dr RIHAB TAHA
I think it is our right to have a capability and be able to defend ourselves. And to have something as a 
deterrent.

CORBIN: So even though you were producing toxins and bacteria that could kill hundreds of thousands of 
people. 

TAHA: Well we never have this intention to use it.

CORBIN: But the ISG say they've been told by Dr Taha's colleague that as well as botulinum she wanted 
him to hide other samples including anthrax, an agent Iraq had weaponised. 

Dr DAVID KAY
Iraq Survey Group
This side has turned back after two days the larger box of samples, he says, to Dr Taha and said he was 
keeping it in his refrigerator. "It's too dangerous, I have a small child in the house, take it back" We've not 
been able to find that group of samples and we need to.

CORBIN: And what does she say? What does Rihab Taha say about this?

KAY: Well she says absolutely nothing about this.

CORBIN: She denies it?

KAY: No, she just doesn't talk about it. She just wont respond to questions on this issue.

CORBIN: Another Iraqi scientist has told us Dr Taha gave samples of a third bio warfare agent, aflatoxin, 
to a colleague to keep at home, but there's still no proof Iraq had restarted a bio-weapons programme, and 
the language is changing again. The ISG isn't talking so much about programmes but Iraq's violation of the 
UN resolution.

But those who would say that this war was fought on faulty intelligence, would point to the fact that you 
found a few old vials of material. This doesn't constitute a biological programme or even really proof of an 
intention to start one.

KAY: We haven't said that it constitutes a biological programme or the intention. What we have said, and 
I think it's undeniable, is that this was a clear violation of UN resolution 1441, the Iraqis under the 
resolution were required to give up all of this material, to declare it to the UN, for over ten years they failed 
to declare it and failed to return it. That's all we've said about this.

CORBIN: It was another defector Sayeed Adnan Al-Haideri, sponsored by the Iraqi National Congress who 
helped create the impression that Iraq was hiding a biological weapons programme. He claimed he had 
fitted out specialised secret laboratories. The INC arranged an interview with Mr Haideri before handing 
him over to American intelligence. Last year we did broadcast some of this defector's testimony because 
several sources had told us he was credible.

Panorama
September 2002

ADNAN SAEED AL-HAIDERI
This place is not normal place, not for normal chemicals. The exhausting is not normal. There is HNO3 
here.

CORBIN: The ISG has searched but they have found none of the laboratory facilities described by Mr 
Haideri, including a bunker under a hospital. 

GREG THIELMANN
State Dept Intelligence Bureau 1998-2002
There was obviously a faction in the US government and in the US intelligence community that never met a 
report that it considered unreliable. It already knew what the answer was, it was faith-based intelligence.

KAY: I don’t think any of us would be surprised if it turns out in the end that there were a number of 
defectors who told less than the full truth. Some put out disinformation at the direction of the Iraqi 
government, others just exaggerated their own roles or completely fabricated what they knew. This has 
always been the case with defectors.

CORBIN: The ISG produced their first interim report in October. They had failed to find chemical or 
biological weapons or an active nuclear programme. But they did have something to reveal. The ISG had 
been collecting up Iraq's battlefield rockets, weapons with a range of up to 150 kilometres which were 
allowed under UN resolutions. But Iraq had been secretly developing several long-range missiles and 
seeking forbidden technically from North Korea. There was no sign of Iraq's old scuds but the ISG 
discovered evidence that engineers had continued to produce fuel for the rockets.

KAY: Missiles are very significant to us because they're the long pole in the tent, they're the thing that 
takes the longest to produce. We do not get a 1000 kilometre range missile in a matter of weeks or even 
months. The Iraqis had started in late '99-2000 to produce a family of missiles that would have gotten to 
1000 kilometres.

CORBIN: Valuable information was coming from an Iraqi engineer prepared to risk his life to expose 
Iraq's illicit missile programmes. I set off to meet him in a safe house in Baghdad. He didn't want to be 
identified. The engineer explained his team had been given orders in April 2001 to begin secretly to design 
a long-range missile.

So how far was this missile designed to go?

ENGINEER: 500 kilometres.

CORBIN: 500 kilometres, that's beyond the permitted range.

ENGINEER: Yes.

CORBIN: The design involved adding an extra engine to a short-range rocket. The Iraqis reckoned they'd 
be able to hide things more successfully inside an existing programme that was allowed. Then the team 
were told to double the missile's range.

ENGINEER: This rocket from 1000 kilometres.

CORBIN: So this was even further, 1000 kilometres.

ENGINEER: A 1000 kilometres yes.

CORBIN: And how many engines?

ENGINEER: Five engines.

CORBIN: Why did you work on this forbidden programme?

ENGINEER: Our regime here was harsh. We could not refuse to work. When the state ordered us to make 
a missile with a range of 500 kilometres, we couldn't say we would not work on it because we would have 
been killed or imprisoned.

CORBIN: The missile was never built. The designs we've seen show only a conventional warhead. But 
when the UN visited last year everything was hidden.

ENGINEER: We were told that we must hand documents and designs for long-range missiles to the project 
director, that is the Director General. We would hand them over to him and he would hide them. When the 
UN left, these documents would be returned to us and we would start work again.

CORBIN: I wanted to talk to another missile scientist to find further evidence for the engineer's story. It 
meant travelling to another part of town. Baghdad is a dangerous place for westerners and Iraqis alike.

I've just come back from talking to a second Iraqi scientist. He's a more senior individual and he confirms 
he was involved too in this illicit missile programme. He wont let me film him, however, he wont even let 
me say who he is. He's absolutely terrified. He's scared of retribution, he says, from members of Saddam's 
old regime.

Iraqi scientists have learnt the risks of talking. One man who had cooperated with the ISG has already paid 
the ultimate price.

KAY: One was killed right after being talked to by us. Someone came up to him in front of his house, put 
a gun to the back of his head and blew his brains out. Another source, very important source to us on the 
biological programme took six bullets into his body and it's only by the grace of god that he's still alive. 
Others report routinely that they're under threat and we're trying to deal with that.

CORBIN: So what's the answer, I mean this reign of fear, it's likely to continue, will you ever really get to 
the bottom of this?

KAY: Well we all have hopes that, when Saddam is captured, the pressure will go off somewhat, but we'll 
get to the bottom.

CORBIN: So what was Saddam really up to? Did he have WMD, and if not, why did he give the 
impression he hadn't come clean with the UN inspectors. It had all been so different before 9/11. Then the 
American assessment of the threat his regime posed was in stark contrast to the rhetoric in the run up to the 
war.

24th February 2001
POWELL: He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction, he 
is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.

CORBIN: Historically Iran has always been Iraq's great enemy. A monument commemorates the million 
lives lost in their most recent war. That's the most likely reason why Saddam wanted missiles, not to hit the 
West.

Iraqi Missile Engineer
The minister said that Iran had fired a 750 kilometre range missile. So, within 6 months, we had to design 
one that went 500 kilometres. The government wasn't on the best of terms Iran, and a missile like that 
could reach Israel.

CORBIN: Coalition troops expected to be the target of chemical weapons as they crossed what they called 
the red line, the approach to Baghdad. But they found just abandoned tanks. We've spoken to an officer 
from the elite Special Republican Guard who was there. He believes Saddam's way of countering all his 
enemies was to bluff.

Special Republican Guard Officer
He used chemical weapons at Halabja, everybody was afraid of him using them, even during the war with 
Iran. People in Kuwait were afraid of chemical weapons, Israel was afraid of them. So everybody was 
afraid that Iraq would use chemical weapons against them, so they avoided him.

CORBIN: The officer says he ran his unit's weapons inventory. Western intelligence believed the Special 
Republican Guard had responsibility for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

SRG OFFICER: After the sanctions, that is to say from 1991 onwards, there were no stocks of chemical 
weapons, neither with the Special Republican Guard nor other units, there were none available at all, it was 
no more than talk, a lot of hot air.


BLIX: I have some theories, it's like putting up the sign on the door "beware of the dog" and you don’t 
have a dog.

CORBIN: If it was a bluff by Saddam, it was also a massive miscalculation. He lost his army, his family 
and his country.

HELMA: [reading from letter] "There seem to be plans underway to supply us with winter clothes and 
covers which I find ominous." 

CORBIN: Mrs Al Sa'adi's letters from her husband, the Iraqi official in prison show he doesn't expect to be 
released soon. He still maintains the weapons were long since destroyed. His wife believes he was trapped 
between trying to satisfy the UN and serving a dictator who had his own agenda.

Why didn't Saddam Hussein come clean? What happened? There is a big mystery here, what's the answer?

HELMA AL-SA'ADI
My husband was fighting on two fronts. He was trying to convince the UN and also he was trying to 
convince the government, the regime, to cooperate with him. But somehow they always kept decisions or 
admissions right to the last moment. Maybe the President was bluffing, thinking they will be afraid.

CORBIN: The ISG have now undertaken 355 missions. They say they need more time, time the UN 
inspectors never had. But some suggest it may be safer for politicians not to let the ISG reach a final 
verdict.

Dr HANS BLIX
UN Weapons Inspector 2000-2003
They would rather end the whole thing by controversy than by an admission that it was wrong.

CORBIN: So in other words they want to leave it hanging.

BLIX: Yes, I think so.

CORBIN: So no one can say well there definitely weren't weapons.

BLIX: I think so. Controversy will be preferable to a judgement. Politicians will prefer to retreat under a 
cloud of dust or… or mist. But we ordinary people I think would like to have some real clarity.

CORBIN: David Kay is still searching for the weapons he was sure existed before the war. His next report 
is due in January as an election year begins in Washington, and as Lord Hutton produces his verdict, one 
that is likely to throw the spotlight on Mr Blair and British intelligence assessments before the war. It's too 
soon to conclude there were no weapons or programmes but should Mr Kay be downgrading expectations?

Do you ever think that you may have got it completely wrong? There may be nothing to this at the end of 
the day, nothing really substantial, nothing current and really threatening?

KAY: I think we have a process that if we get to the end of the day and we find nothing, we will all be able 
to say this is the evidence that led… leads us to the conclusion that there was nothing there or there was 
something there.

CORBIN: And you're prepared to be proved wrong, that there was nothing at the end of the day?

KAY: Absolutely. If that turns out to be the truth, you know.. so be it.

CORBIN: Iraq's people are reclaiming the places out of bounds for so long. Even Saddam's weapons 
factories and research establishments now destroyed by war. The Iraq Survey Group is still searching but it 
may well be that only the historians will ever discover what really went on in Iraq and in Saddam's mind.


Next week, mounting personal debt. As we continue to spend it like Beckham but without his cash, 
Panorama asks are we just storing up economic problems for the future. 

If you want to find out more about tonight's programme visit our website: www.bbc.co.uk/panorama


CREDITS

Reporter
JANE CORBIN

Camera
NIKKI MILLARD

Sound 
GRANT LAWSON

VT Editor
BOYD NAGLE

Dubbing Mixer
ANDREW SEARS

Production Co-ordinators
ROSA RUDNICKA
KAREN SADLER

Production Assistant
SOPHIE LHERNOULT

Web Producer
ADAM FLINTER

Film Research
KATE REDMAN

Research
KATHLYN POSNER




Graphic Design
KEY YIP LAM
ALEX NEWBERY

Production Manager
GINNY WILLIAMS

Unit Manager
LAURA GOVETT

Film Editor 
BOB HAYWARD

Assistant Producers
JOANNA LEE
ELEANOR PLOWDEN

Producers
FIONA CAMPBELL
THEA GUEST

Deputy Editors
ANDREW BELL
SAM COLLYNS

Editor 
MIKE ROBINSON
If you have any queries regarding this programme, please email: panorama@bbc.co.uk


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