Glazov: The recent Intelligence Summit released 12 hours of audiotapes of Saddam Hussein and his key officials discussing their WMD programs from the mid-1990s onwards.What do you make of the significance of these tapes? How do they square with your claim in your book that Russia helped move Iraqi WMD into Syria?
Mauro: The tapes are extremely significant in that they prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that as of the year 2000, Saddam Hussein had a secret plasma program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, or "special bombs" as he calls them. The Duelfer Report previously concluded that this type of enrichment program ended in the 1980s, but here we have Saddam and his top advisors discussing using a power plant in the area of Basra for the program. The scientists involved in the program are not known to the UN, leaving Western intelligence clueless.
On the tapes, you hear Saddam discussing the assistance of Russia and Brazil in dealing with the United Nations. He laughs off inspections, as his son-in-law who later defects, Hussein Kamil, reports how as late as 1995 their chemical and biological programs were being hidden from the world. They also discuss keeping the ingredients for these weapons separate, so that should they be found, they will be looked at as innocent dual-use items. They were not destroyed in 1991 as the Duelfer Report concludes. There are even indications on the tapes that Iraq may have had a role in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
My book was the first to make the claim that Russia was involved in moving Iraq's WMDs to Syria. After all the nay saying and criticizing I received for it, testimony at the Summit confirmed that this was true.
Glazov: What exactly is the evidence that Iraq moved its WMD into Syria?
Mauro: It has been confirmed across the board that 18-wheelers were seen going into Syria before the war, crossing the border soon after Iraqi intelligence replaced the border guards and cleared nearby areas for their passage. There are also eyewitness reports of the trucks going into Syria, and eyewitness reports of their burial in Lebanon. The trucks with the weapons were tracked to three locations in Syria and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, currently controlled by the Syrians, Iranians and Hezbollah. Sources I've spoken with that have seen satellite photos of the movements confirm that the WMD in Syria are at military bases, while the ones in Lebanon are buried. A fourth site in Syria, the al-Safir WMD and missile site, should also be looked at. From spring to summer 2002, there was a lot of construction here involving the expansion of underground complexes.
We have tremendous testimony as well, by General Georges Sada, the former second-in-command of Saddam's Air Force that 56 flights took place on converted Iraqi Airways planes in the summer of 2002 to transport weapons, along with a ground shipment. He claims to know the pilots involved. A second Iraqi general, Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti, in an interview I published, confirmed in detail the movement of WMD into Syria saying that discussion on such a move went back to the 1980s. He claims his sources for this include Iraqi scientists and others in the regime that were very close to him even after he defected. He confirmed to me that Russian vehicles, including ones equipped to handle hazardous materials, were used. Reports of WMD being moved out of Iraq to Syria go back to 1997, and it is believed by many that weapons were moved in and out of Iraq using Syria routinely since the mid-1990s.
The Italian media also reported that their intelligence services had information indicating that in January and February of 2003, Iraqi CDs full of formulas and research work along with tubes of anthrax and botulinum toxin were sent off to Syria. By the end of February, Iraqi expertise was already in Syria including a top nuclear physicist.
An Iraqi scientist also led Coalition forces to hidden stockpiles of precursor chemicals that could be used to make chemical and biological weapons. The scientist said some facilities and weapons were destroyed, and the rest were sent to Syria. Syrian defectors are also claiming that Syria is where the weapons are, along with Representative Curt Weldon's source in his new book. The Prime Minister of Albania even stated that based on information he has which is not available to the media, he cannot rule out such a transfer.
There is also a report that an Iraqi medium-range al-Hussein missile on a truck moved into Syria, and in the early stages of the war, was spotted briefly coming into Iraq, operating its radar overnight, and returning to Syria. Most reports about the transfer indicate missiles were included in the transfers.
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