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Rumsfeld: Interviewing Scientists Crucial to Iraq Inspections

United Nations officials have asked Iraqi authorities to provide them the names of scientists involved in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld believes information from such scientists could be crucial.

Under the terms of the latest U.N. resolution on Iraq's weapons programs, U.N. inspectors have the power to whisk scientists and their families abroad so they can be interviewed without any interference from Iraqi officials.

Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon he believes Baghdad should be concerned about that provision. "If I were an Iraqi government official," he said, "I would be as worried about that provision as any other provision... If they refuse to allow people to get out with their families, they will have violated that resolution."

Mr. Rumsfeld pointed out that the most important information uncovered by U.N. weapons inspectors in the past has not come from the inspectors' own searches but from those with personal knowledge about what is going on inside Iraq.

"And when we had that kind of expert opinion from people that had been inside the country, knew the programs, that is when we were able to discover things," he said.

And what if any Iraqi scientist is reluctant to go abroad for an interview? Mr. Rumsfeld shrugged and said: "That's life, then you can't get them."

Mr. Rumsfeld had no direct comment on the lengthy declaration submitted recently by Iraq listing its weapons of mass destruction programs.