Friday, October 3, 2003

It's Official - No WMD Found

To readers of the other sections of these reports on the war in Iraq, it should not be surprising to learn of an interim report stating that no Weapons of Mass Destruction had been found. This week the leader of the inspection team, David Kay, made just that report to Congress.

[Oct 2, 2003; CNN; cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/02/kay.report/] Text of David Kay's unclassified statement ... The text of his testimony to congress.

There's too much in his testimony to adequately quote and stay within fair use. So I'll summarize, and point out at the offset that the following articles in the press are not reporting the full story.

First, as is obvious, no existing and immediately usable WMD's (chemical, biological or nuclear) were found in Iraq. If they had existed, perhaps the defenders would have used them during the U.S. invasion.

Next, as to programs to produce such weapons. He gives a number of excuses such as the massive looting after the invasion (true) and the small size of the things being searched for (also true). What's interesting is their discovery of a range of programs previously undeclared to the U.N. and which, at the least, were preserving the skeleton of WMD programs.

  • A clandestine network of laboratories run by the IIS (secret service).
  • A prison laboratory complex "possibly" used for biological weapons testing on the prisoners.
  • Preserved "reference strains" of biological agents, from which weapons could be regrown later.
  • Plans for missiles with 1000km range, well beyond the allowed 150km under the UN sanctions. Further, talks with North Korea about supplying missiles to Iraq.
  • Unmanned aircraft (UAV) with ranges well beyond the allowed maximum.

Everything discussed was more ambition than in a stage of producing results.

[Oct 3, 2003; The Independant (London); news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=449413] 1,200 weapons inspectors spent 90 days in Iraq. The exercise cost $300m. And the number of weapons found? 0 Five months after the end of the war in Iraq, a CIA adviser has admitted that his 1,200-strong team of inspectors has discovered none of Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

"We have not yet found stocks of weapons," David Kay, the head of the CIA-led Iraq Survey Group ... 90 days after the arrival of his group in Iraq. Mr Kay insisted that lines of inquiry on which the group were working might yet yield concrete proof. He hoped to "draw a line" under his work in six to nine months. In the report he argued that the bulkiest material that inspectors were searching for could be hidden in spaces little larger than a two-car garage. ...

He said: "Much evidence is irretrievably lost." He also blamed the slow progress on the way Iraq had arranged its WMD activities, the widespread destruction of materials and documents before the war, and looting of suspect sites afterwards.

[Oct 3, 2003; The Independant (London); news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=449410] 'We found nothing, despite Saddam's ambitions' The interim report of America's chief weapons inspector is a damning blow to those who argued the case for war against Iraq based on the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime.

... While there was some evidence that Iraq had retained the template of a weapons programme, in all the areas in which the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) has been looking ? biological, chemical and nuclear ? Mr Kay conceded that his staff had found nothing that proved Saddam ever actually possessed such weapons. He also admitted that the pre-war intelligence on Iraq had proved to be in sharp contrast to the reality on the ground.

... Mr Kay said: "We have not yet found stocks of weapons but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapons stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone." He laid out six reasons for his team's failure to find proof of WMD, ranging from "WMD personnel" crossing borders before and after the conflict, to the relatively small size of any such weapons in contrast to Saddam's conventional weapons.

In regard to biological weapons (BW), Mr Kay claimed his team had uncovered "significant information" pointing towards the development of "BW-applicable organisms". Yet he said the team was still working to ascertain what these represented. The report said teams have discovered a network of clandestine laboratories and found live botulinum toxin ? which could be used to make biological weapons ? at an Iraqi scientist's home.

[Oct 2, 2003; Financial Times; http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer] Iraq team finds no illegal weapons "We have not found at this point actual weapons," David Kay said after briefing members of Congress on his three-month investigation. "We have found substantial evidence of an intent of senior level Iraqi officials, including Saddam, to continue production at some future point in time of weapons of mass destruction."

Saddam Hussein's regime held high-level talks about gaining long-range missile technology from North Korea as recently as October 2000, Mr Kay's interim report states.

The Iraq Survey Group, the US-led team looking for Iraq's WMD, said Iraq and North Korea discussed missile technology, probably related to North Korea's long-range No Dong missile. The missile has a range of 1,300km, which would have provided Baghdad with strike power beyond the 150km limit set by the United Nations.

Nothing found, unsurprisingly. But they were in talks with North Korea? Hmmm... Not good, especially given that North Korea is currently heading towards nuclear weapon ownership given the U.S. distraction with Iraq.

[Oct 3, 2003; The Independant (London); news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=449407] Survey chief led calls to oust Iraqi dictator When the Bush administration was searching for someone to lead the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the name of David Kay quickly surfaced. He seemed the perfect candidate. He had experience in Iraq and, best of all, he was completely in tune with White House thinking.

... What appealed to the White House was not just Mr Kay's experience, but his distrust of the Saddam Hussein regime. And he had long given up on the UN inspection body, Unscom. Even in 1994, after he had left the IAEA, Mr Kay was making arguments the Bush administration used to justify the war

"There is no ultimate success that involves Unscom. It's got to be a change of regime. It's got to be a change of Saddam," Mr Kay wrote at the time.

It should not be surprising that the person selected to head the inspection team turns out to be biased against Saddam Hussein's regime. On the other hand, that just serves to emphasize the result, that no WMD's have been found.