URGENT Saddam Says Scuds Have Nuclear, Chemical Capability
NEW YORK (AP) _ Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was quoted as saying Monday that the missiles Iraq has been firing at Israel and Saudi Arabia have nuclear, chemical and biological capability.
″We have mantained our balance using only conventional weapons,″ Saddam was quoted as saying in his interview in Baghdad with CNN’s correspondent in Iraq, Peter Arnett.
Arnett paraphrased Saddam as saying the Scud missiles have nuclear, chemical and biological capability.
Saddam was quoted as saying he could not predict how long the gulf war would last, but promised ″lots of blood will be shed on every side.″
Saddam said he was confident Iraq would prevail.
″We pray that not a lot of blood will be shed from any nation, we pray we shall not be forced into taking a forced measure.″
Arnett spoke by phone with CNN in the United States after the interview he said took place in a bungalow in Baghdad.
He said he had asked Saddam whether he would refrain from using chemical weapons if the United States and its allies refrained from doing so.
″I don’t mean that,″ Arnett quoted Saddam as saying, ″Iraq will use weapons that equate the weapons used against us.″
The Iraqis are known to have chemical and biological warfare capabilities, but Western analysts have questioned whether they could equip their Scud missiles with such weapons.
As for nuclear weapons, some in the West believed Iraq was just a year or two from developing atomic warheads. But the U.S. military says its recent bombing has obliterated Iraq’s nuclear network.
Saddam attacked ″hypocritical Western politicans″ who he said convinced him last fall that if he let the hostages go they would keep the peace, Arnett said. Iraq allowed most foreigners who wished to leave to do so by December. Arnett quoted Saddam as saying, ″If we had kept these 5,000 hostages here, would Bush have bombed Baghdad?″
Arnett said he was unexpectedly summoned to a meeting with a high official and then was taken to a small bungalow in suburban Baghdad. He said he waited about an hour and Saddam arrived. The interview was about 90 minutes.
Saddam was adamant that Kuwait is a part of Iraq and will remain so.
Asked about using the captured pilots as hostages, Saddam said that Iraqis had been interned in allied nations.
How long will the war last? Saddam was asked.
″Only God knows,″ he was quoted as saying.