Magazine article Newsweek

Exclusive: The Defector's Secrets

Magazine article Newsweek

Exclusive: The Defector's Secrets

Article excerpt

Byline: John Barry

Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the gulf war, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.

Kamel was Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and had direct knowledge of what he claimed: for 10 years he had run Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs. Kamel told his Western interrogators that he hoped his revelations would trigger Saddam's overthrow. But after six months in exile in Jordan, Kamel realized the United States would not support his dream of becoming Iraq's ruler after Saddam's demise. He chose to return to Iraq--where he was promptly killed.

Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the U.N. inspectors, sources say, for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more. And Iraq has never shown the documentation to support Kamel's story. Still, the defector's tale raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist.

Kamel said Iraq had not abandoned its WMD ambitions. The stocks had been destroyed to hide the programs from the U.N. inspectors, but Iraq had retained the design and engineering details of these weapons. Kamel talked of hidden blueprints, computer disks, microfiches and even missile-warhead molds. …

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