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OPENING STATEMENT OF MR. DUNCAN HUNTER HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING ON IRAQ’S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM AND TECHNOLOGY EXPORTS
September 19, 2002
Today, the Committee on Armed Services continues its review of the Iraqi threat and United States policy toward Iraq, with a specific focus on how the U.S. and the international community should act in concert to restrain Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
This morning’s hearing marks the third of a number of planned public sessions designed to 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 and the international community.
In the past two weeks, the Committee received classified briefings from the CIA and DIA; heard testimony from former, senior UNSCOM inspectors about Iraq's illicit weapons programs; and received the Administration’s position on Iraq yesterday from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.
Next week, the Committee will hold another public hearing on U.S. policy toward Iraq, but will hear from private sector foreign and defense policy experts.
Today, he Committee will learn how the Iraqis built and sustained their weapons of mass destruction programs through the legal, and illegal, acquisition of technology on the world market, and how the United States’ own export control system may have contributed to the problems we are now facing with Iraq.
It is ironic that presently pending before the Congress is legislation to reauthorize the Export Administration Act. The EAA, as it is more commonly known, is the primary legislative vehicle through which the United States exercises control over sensitive “dual-use” items---those with both military and commercial application.
These national security export controls are critical to ensuring that our adversaries and potential enemies don’t acquire the high technologies that will threaten the United States national security, or reduce the qualitative advantages of our armed forces.
The irony is that, rather than strengthening these systems of control, the legislation that is being pushed through Congress dramatically liberalizes these key protections, making it easier for Saddam Hussein and his ilk to continue their weapons of mass destruction programs.
This morning our witnesses---who we hope will connect the dots between export controls, technology transfers, and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program---are......
• Dr. Gary Milhollin, Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Dr. Milhollin has been watching and documenting Iraq’s WMD programs for years, and is also an expert in national security export controls.
• We are also pleased to have Dr. Khidir Hamza, a trained nuclear engineer who worked in various parts of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program both before and after the 1990–91 Gulf War. Dr. Hamza will tell us how Saddam Hussein acquired the technologies necessary for its weapons of mass destruction program, even while under the watchful eyes of U.N. inspectors and the restrictions of U.N. sanctions.
Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives Full Committee Hearing on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and Technology Exports September 19, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for your leadership in quickly scheduling a range of hearings on issues related to Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction program. We in Congress and the American people need to understand clearly the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein so that we can carefully consider what action the United States must take. The hearings we have had so far—with former United Nations weapons inspectors and with Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers—have provided valuable information about Iraq’s weapons programs and the danger they may pose to the United States
and our allies.
I hope that our witnesses today can add to the information we already have by helping us understand just how Iraq built his chemical, biological, nuclear, and long-range missile programs and how he got what he needed. We need to know what is there so we can know how to respond. Dr. Milhollin has tracked technology transfers to Iraq for some
time and Dr. Hamsa brings the unique insider perspective of one who
has been inside Saddam’s weapons complex. Gentlemen, thank you for being here today. I hope you can shine some additional light on the threat we face from Iraq’s programs and what it will take to dismantle
In considering how Iraq got the weapons of mass destruction we believe he has today, we must be willing to look at how U.S. actions may have—however unintentionally—contributed to his effort. Some American products and those of our friends may have gotten through our export control system and into Saddam’s hands, highlighting how easily technology can move in our globalized economy. But for me, it highlights too the need to work hard to fashion an export control system that balances the competitiveness of U.S. industry with our security responsibility to prevent more critical technologies and materials from reaching those who would develop weapons of mass destruction. This committee took a step in that regard when we approved a strengthened version of the Export Administration Act, one that seems more important now as we face the possibility of war to dismantle the
proliferation we have worked so hard to prevent.
But, in the near term, the immediate challenge facing us is deciding how to proceed against Iraq. Doing that requires the best information possible and lots of it. That is what I hope our witnesses
will focus on today—the detail of Saddam’s weapons programs and their insights into how they can be eliminated. This is our first priority and our duty to the American people. I thank the witnesses and I thank you, Mr. Chairman.