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Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Dr. Kay. And, I am going to go now to Mr. Skelton, the ranking member. After we do that, I am going to ask our members, any member that didn't get a question in the last two-hour classified briefing, we are going to let them go and ask the next question before we move on.
So, Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. Thank you, gentlemen, for your very pointed testimony.
You obviously had some success as inspectors. Can you very briefly tell us of the success and the destruction of any weapons of mass destruction or parts thereof that you found?
Dr. SPERTZEL. In your question, there was success, to start with, with the biological program; the admission was forced onto Iraq by the efforts of a special commission. I sat across from the biological people that Iraq presented to us in February of 1995 and laid out the U.N. position, UNSCOM's position, and that is that they had an offensive program that included weaponization and a lot more facilities than just a few that they had named. It took another five months of political pressure, if you like, through the Security Council, to get Iraq to acknowledge an offensive program on the first of July of 1995.
And then, along comes Hussein Kamal's defection, and they expanded that and also, additional information on the other programs.
And, yes, we were able to destroy a few of their facilities, but that was offset, at least in a frustrating sense, by the information that we knew we had that they had imported critical material, including a 5,000 liter fermentation plant. And, with the names associated with that procurement action, it should have gone to the Al Hakam complex.
It did not. It was and presumably still is somewhere in Iraq, but in spite of having solid evidence of its coming into Iraq, we couldn't force Iraq to acknowledge it; and regrettably, the support of the Security Council by the time we obtained that information was waning. And, when you have two members of the permanent five (P5) who are probably more interested in economic exchange with Iraq than they are with eliminating the weapons of mass destruction, you can't have much success as a U.N. inspector.
Mr. SKELTON. Let me ask, in your opinion and from your knowledge, what is different today in the nature or urgency of the threat than was true some, say, four years ago.
Dr. SPERTZEL. Well, let me make a quick synopsis of four years ago.
As I indicated in my opening statement, that they had retained the people as an intact unit, they had developed the indigenous capability of making the necessary growth medium that they needed. And, when they were able to restore some of the mechanical shops that had been destroyed in December of 1998, they had the indigenous capability of making the necessary fermenters, spray dryers, centrifuges and so on-in other words, everything they needed.
Now, a number of things have happened, actually even before 1998, but certainly it would be expected to be continuing, and that is, in 1997 a couple of key people had some mysterious comings and goings. One of them was the dean of the College of Science at the University of Baghdad, whose nameplate was still on the office door, but obviously a cleaned up office; and Iraq claimed that they had no idea where this individual was, where I knew where she was. She was outside of Iraq collecting state-of-the-art equipment for genetic engineering, including the necessary materials, reagents, including restriction enzymes.
Now, at the same time, Dr. Hazam Ali, the head of the virus portion, suddenly resigned his position at one location, the Razi Institute, and was allegedly an instructor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, but when our team went there he wasn't there; they never heard of him recently. And then, the Iraqis told us, “Oh, no, he was at the College of Medicine.” Then he was at the College of Science and then he was at the College of Medicine.
We never really knew where the heck he was, but if we asked to interview him, they could easily produce him.
At the same time, another individual, the head of the department of biotechnology at the University of Baghdad, also had some strange disappearance from his laboratory. This is rather ominous to me. You put a first-rate biologist together with a couple genetic engineers, you can only guess what may be the results of that. You couple that with what is rather good circumstantial evidence that Iraq was messing around with smallpox and maybe they were trying to duplicate some of the Soviet studies.
Mr. SKELTON. Dr. Kay.
Dr. Kay. Mr. Skelton, that is an extremely good question, and let me start with addressing what we destroyed because I shared with a number of other inspectors from UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a considerable pride with regard to the accomplishments: the physical destruction of what was destroyed, that is, two major uranium enrichment processes using electromagnetic isotope separation and centrifuge process in which we destroyed immense numbers of buildings and materials. I remember two days, because I was worried that the Iraqis would steal the material after we left, of crushing centrifuge tubes and rings for doing that. A lot of physical facilities that then existed were destroyed.
What we did not destroy—and, in fact, let me say we destroyed more physical facilities of the Iraqi nuclear program during the course of the inspection than were destroyed by coalition air power during the course of the war, and we destroyed many that were unknown to coalition air power during the course of the war. So, I have a great sense of accomplishment, and I share it with a lot of other people who played major roles in doing that.
But, let me tell you what we didn't do, and that is what worries me and gets to the second part of your question of why I am worried today more than I was four years ago. We didn't get the foreign suppliers. We were not able to unravel, and they refused to make available the full list of the people who had provided them the technology. We now know partly, because of what has happened in the last four years, some of those suppliers have been continuing to provide them with supplies. We managed to capture in the document for which we spent four days in a parking lot, we captured their initial weapons design, which is a workable design.
Now, this was dated two years before the date of that inspection. No nuclear weapons program that we know about has ever stopped with its first design. You get a design you know will work and then you start making it smaller, more effective and hopefully more resistant to accidents.
So my experience in Iraq leaves me somewhat dubious about their concern for safety. They refused to give up any additional design documents saying very plausibly and contrary to some evidence we had, “Well, we didn't do any more design work, you've got it.”
Third, we captured some of the personnel records. They refused to give us a full list and to give us access to the people who had been involved in their program other than those that we discovered and knew about.
So why am I worried? I am worried because we see indications that they have continued their foreign procurement. We know they have kept the teams together and working in the same physical facilities. We know how good they are. And believe me, we had no authority—I would love to have had a stack of green cards to offer to Iraqi scientists and say, “Come to the United States; you will have a good life,” and hand them out. That would probably have been far more effective at dismantling the program than two days spent crushing centrifuge tubes. I didn't even have the authority.
And, Dr. Spertzel can tell you about the even more severe restrictions he followed, because I was lucky. I was in the early days and I could do some things he couldn't. I was limited in the interrogation I could carry out with Iraqi scientists, limited by international rules. I would love to have sweated them—read them the Miranda rights, but then legally sweated them to find out what they really knew. I didn't know that. And believe me, if you ever worked on a weapons program, you know human capital is what is important. Destroy machines, I will just buy better ones; there are better ones coming on the market every day.
And if you take the U.S. enrichment program and compare that to that of our European allies; we have in two gas infused plantsI hope they are not in your districts—dinosaurs of plants. The Europeans came later and they developed centrifuge designs that are far better at producing uranium than ours.
And let me conclude what really worries me. We did the Iraqis a tremendous favor by destroying what we found, in the sense we taught them what we could find, and they learned how to conceal, deceive and deny to us a program that is going to be probably a lot smaller, but a lot harder for us to ever have detailed knowledge of; and that is what worries me today more than it did 4 years ago. I hope that is responsive.
Mr. SKELTON. My last question is one that is troubling and unpleasant. In the news, we have seen the last few days, a fellow inspector, Scott Ritter, that is saying that this is not a threat or a problem to the United States or our allies.
Do you care to comment, both of you?
Let me not—let me just say that if you go back and read the testimony that Scott Ritter gave before Congress in 1998 after he resigned and compare it to what he is saying today, either he lied to you then or he is lying now. It is your choice. But his testimony on the Hill was a detailed indictment of the Iraqi program not at all dissimilar from what Dr. Spertzel and I are telling you today. He has gone completely the other way.
I cannot explain it on the basis of the known facts.
Dr. SPERTZEL. Pretty much the same thing. I have heard Scott make statements about the
Iraq's biological program saying it is 95 percent destroyed. Two questions come to mind; one is, how does he know what is 100 percent, because I don't, and I don't thinkI don't think any of the other biological inspectors knew.
And second, how many biological sites did he visit? Certainly, prior to 1999, the answer is none. He hasn't the foggiest idea of Iraq's biological, chemical, and nuclear program. That wasn't his forte; it wasn't what he was doing.
Why he is doing what he is doing now, as Dr. Kay mentioned, compared to what he was saying four years ago and what he is saying now, he is either lying now or lied to an awful lot of us four and five years ago.
Mr. SKELTON. You both have been very helpful. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. Let me ask folks on the second row who didn't get a chance in the last hearing to ask a question here.
Mr. Graham, did you ask a question last time? Why don't you go head, and we will go down to Mr. Allen.
Mr. GRAHAM. Thank you. Appreciate you both coming.
In trying to absorb all this, you have a gentleman who served with you speaking in Baghdad today, and Mr. Skelton asked about that. And, if you listen to him, it is very foolish for us to put the world at risk by engaging Iraq in a decisive manner.
If we listen to both of you, we are stupid to try and even inspect again. And in all honesty, if we re-entered Iraq tomorrow, knowing what you know based on your experience, what degree of confidence do you have that anything would change in terms of us knowing the threat that Saddam Hussein presents to this country?
Dr. Kay. If I could start, if you entered tomorrow as an inspector, as long as the present regime is in power, he is determined to maintain its weapons program and engage in the deception and denial program, I have little confidence that we could find that program in its entirety.
Mr. GRAHAM. Unless Saddam Hussein changes who he is and the way he believes, it is a fruitless effort?
Dr. Kay. And that gets to my second point, in dealing with what seems to be a considerable difference between the testimony we have given and what Scott has said.
The best evidence I would suggest you look at is Saddam Hussein. If he had no weapons of mass destruction, why would he not let the inspectors in with full rein? And yet, we can describe, in chapter and verse, the concealment, deception/denial techniques that were used that range from physical intimidation and force all the way up to much more subtle and technologically sophisticated methods to conceal.
If you are not engaged in a prohibited activity, why would you forego $120 billion of oil revenue? I think the best evidence that there is something there is the evidence of the perpetrator of the crime and his behavior.
Mr. GRAHAM. Sharing technology, and weapons of mass destruction with terrorists, during your time in Iraq, did you find any evidence that there was a connection between Iraq and terrorist organizations anywhere in the world in terms of sharing chemical biological or nuclear materials?
Dr. Kay. I was not looking for it. I was looking for the origins of the Iraqi program, where they got their technology. I know of no evidence during the period of the inspections on the nuclear side that would indicate that. But, I must say, don't take absence of, I don't take absence of evidence to be absence of their being something there.
What Dr. Spertzel referred to earlier-remember, when some of you were of the age when you have gone through with your children the answer, as they prepare for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and it is hard to convince them that they ought to pay attention to “D, none of the above.”
I don't know what 100 percent of their activities were because they engaged in activities designed to keep me from knowing what 100 percent of their activities were. So, we didn't observe it. That is all I am telling you.
Dr. SPERTZEL. I would like to respond a little bit on the biology side.
We had suggestions, we were told categorically that that was not the mandate of 687 and that whatever information we got, we had to tread lightly and not make a point of having that be a primary purpose. However, in the case of wheat cover smut that program started, it was intended for what I would call "agriterrorism” against at least one of its neighbors with whom they were at war at the time.
Mr. GRAHAM. Last question: President Bush says that in terms of Iraq, time is not on our side. Do you agree with that statement? Do you believe that if we do nothing, five years from now he is a bigger threat or lesser threat?
Dr. Kay. I certainly agree that time is not on our side. When we talk about someone who is actively engaged in development of a nuclear program, time is not on our side. The acquisition of a nuclear weapon in the hands of Saddam Hussein not only would pose a greater threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region, it would change in ways that are really largely unknowable.
The political competition, for example, imagine—we tend to view the Iranians as a threat against ourselves. If you ever dealt with the Iranians after the Iran Iraq war, more than 500,000 Iranian young men died defending their country against Saddam Hussein's attack. The Iranian weapons of mass destruction program is designed as much against the Iraqis as it is anything to do with us. If we allow it to continue, you are talking about a major arms race in the Middle East that I find it difficult to understand the consequence of.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman.