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OPENING STATEMENT OF MR. DUNCAN HUNTER
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
September 10, 2002
Today, the Committee on Armed Services meets in open session to discuss weapons inspections in Iraq, with specific emphasis on the experiences of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq from 1991 through 1998.
Today's hearing marks the first of a number of planned public sessions designed to educate and inform the Committee, and the American people, on the various issues surrounding Iraq's continued violation of numerous United Nation's resolutions, its illicit development of weapons of mass destruction, and the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the United States, the Middle East, and the international community.
In fact, the Committee received a classified briefing from the CIA and DIA earlier this afternoon on Iraqi threats, and will hear from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld next Wednesday morning, September 18, on many of these same matters.
Our witnesses this afternoon, however, are
• Dr. Dr. David A. Kay, former United Nations Chief Nuclear
Weapons Inspector in Iraq; and
• Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, former Head of the Biology Section
on the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq.
Welcome gentlemen. Thank you for appearing on such short notice. The committee looks forward to your testimony.
But before we ask you both for your opening remarks, I want to invite Mr. Skelton, the Ranking Democrat on the committee, to offer any comments he might have.
Thank you Mr.Skelton.
Dr. Kay, the floor is yours.
Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of
September 10, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for convening this hearing. In the last week, President Bush has made clear to the Congress and to the American people his determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power and to neutralize the threat posed by the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. What the administration has not yet explained is the President's plan for achieving this regime change and disarmament and how these actions will affect the United States'
ability to conduct the broader war on terrorism and its other interests around the world.
Recent polls have shown that the majority of the American people support addressing the Iraqi threat, but that they prefer an approach that has congressional authorization and that works with the United Nations. The polls also show that the American people have questions about why we might have to use military force in Iraq, what the risks are of doing so, and what the United States must be prepared to do in the long-term to make sure that Iraq doesn't threaten its neighbors or the United States
with its military or with weapons of mass destruction. I share their questions and have told the President this. We may well need to take steps—including military action against Iraq in the near future, but we must ask the basic questions of why, why now, and how.
The best way to get answers is through hearings like this one. Before the administration and the Congress can decide on the best course of action, we must clearly understand the threat. The witnesses before us, Dr. David Kay and Dr. Richard Spertzel, have both served on teams in Iraq as part of United Nations-sponsored inspections and have knowledge of Iraqi WMD programs through the withdrawal of UN
inspectors in 1998.
Gentlemen, I hope you will both be able to help this committee understand the likely state of the Iraqi weapons program. What do we know for sure about Iraqi capabilities at this point and what information do we have to infer based on imperfect knowledge? What would it take to know exactly what capabilities the Iraqis have? What approaches short of an invasion and regime change could help destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? From your perspective working with international organizations, what are the benefits of a multilateral approach to addressing this problem? And critically, must we act now? What is