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Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi: “The Same People That Gave Saddam Hussein Chemicals to Make These Weapons Used it as an Excuse To Attack Him”

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We speak with Iranian human rights lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi about the U.S. relationship with Iraq under Reagan during the 1980s Iraq-Iran war. [Includes transcript]

  • Shirin Ebadi, Iranian human rights lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday we had the opportunity to speak with renowned Iranian judge, Shirin Ebadi, Nobel peace prizewinner. In October, 2003, she was awarded the prize, becoming the first Muslim woman and the first Iranian to receive this award. She joined us in our Firehouse studios after yesterday’s program. We talked about Iran, the U.S., Islam and democracy. Today, we’ll just play an excerpt of this interview. I talked with Judge Ebadi about the relationship of Saddam Hussein to Iran and how Saddam stayed in power for so long. Her answers are translated from Farsi.

AMY GOODMAN: Saddam attacked Iran in 1980.

SHIRIN EBADI: He was under the impression that because Iran was going through a revolutionary process and was unstable, he could easily invade and occupy the country.

The country to his expectation, Iranians, particularly the young people united and resisted his invasion. We have to remember that Saddam used chemical bombs against Iranians a number of times. At the time we had the information that Saddam was getting his nuclear material from the United States and other western countries, and we informed many countries in the international community about this problem, but no one paid attention to our complaints. And later on, it was proven that our claims were quite correct. It’s regrettable that the same people who gave Saddam the material to make the bombs used the material in the weapons to attack him.

AMY GOODMAN: The country, the United States, is learning a lot, or not, about the Reagan years right now, with the death of former president Ronald Reagan. I wanted to ask you about Donald Rumsfeld. He was the envoy for president Reagan in 1983 and 1984. He went to Iraq, shook hands with Saddam Hussein. At the same time in his two trips, the U.N. and the U.S. State department came out with a report saying Saddam had used chemical weapons, but Donald Rumsfeld was there to normalize relations with Saddam Hussein. You can comment on this?

SHIRIN EBADI: This was truly the case. Saddam was not able to accumulate the weapons systems and arsenals as well as chemical weapons without assistance of the United States and other western countries. What is important is that we have to remind people of recent past history. Not because we are seeking revenge, but because we have to learn from the past, so the same mistakes will not be committed.

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The Reagan-Saddam Connection: “We Create These Monsters And When It’s Not Convenient We Cover Them Up”

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