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tional intelligence, staring from the outside without human sources inside a program, to understand it.
Now, this isn't the first time we have learned that lesson. U.S. intelligence did not know of a very large Soviet biological weapons program conducted during the Cold War, which led to the Soviets putting smallpox on the ends of intercontinental missiles. The U.S. missed the size of the Soviet nuclear program by a factor of twoand-a-half. The program for producing enriched uranium in the Soviet Union was two-and-a-half times greater than the classified estimate at the end of the Cold War.
WMD programs are inherently hard to get evidence of where they are. And, the other point I would emphasize before stopping here is that in beginning to think about how one would describe Iraq's program-nuclear program—you have to recognize serious impediments that all of us faced in trying to unravel it.
On-site inspection in Iraq carried out by UNSCOM faced a serious, organized, and I would say world-class deception, denial, and clandestine hiding program by the Iraqis. This had started before the war, and it certainly got better during the inspections as they played against UNSCOM inspectors. Even when we penetrated the deception and clandestine nature of this program at the final stage, we would then be frustrated in carrying out the inspection. They would block physical access to us and invite us to spend four days in a parking lot or outside a facility and deny us entry.
There is much about that program that we never successfully unraveled. As long as there is a government in power in Iraq that wants to keep an inspection service away from its prohibited programs, it will do it unless—tremendous resources, actually resources beyond anything I can imagine. And, let me just tell you briefly some of the resources that we had available.
During the period that I was there and Dr. Spertzel was there, UNSCOM had at its disposal two helicopters to move inspectors around the whole country. This is a country that is twice the size of the State of Idaho. There were many sites we didn't visit more than once because we simply, logistically, couldn't put inspectors out there or couldn't put them out there faster than the Iraqis could move material around there. We generally had no more than about 100 people at the max in country as inspectors. We had gaps between when the inspection teams were there.
If you ask for evidence of where the nuclear program is today, there is a lack of physical evidence to exactly describe the state today, because the Iraqis have gone to great lengths to keep us from obtaining that physical evidence. But, what we can say with a great deal of certainty is, they have solved all the intellectual problems of producing nuclear weapons. They are facing some physical, technical production problems, but given time and money, which they have plenty of, I don't think any of us who were there doubt that they will solve those problems eventually as long as there is a government in power committed to having those problems. And that, for me, is the bottom line of where I come to, where should we go next?
If you are concerned about Iraq, an Iraq that produces and has nuclear weapons, even though I can't tell you—and I will be the first to tell you, I can't tell you at what exact point in time they
will have them—then you have to recognize, you have to deal with changing a regime. Saddam Hussein, for example, has forgone over $120 billion in oil revenue he could have had if he had simply complied with the inspection process and gotten sanctions off. To shield and protect that program, this is at the forefront of his desires for his political reasons in the region. So, it is a well-shielded and protected problem.
Let me share and conclude with my worry. We have spent-certainly I have spent, almost entirely, my adult life worrying about threats to the United States that come primarily from states that have military regimes, size that looks very much like us, the Soviet Union and a few other countries.
We are now facing, and 9/11 should have reminded us, a group of countries that do not have military regimes that look at us, that may decide to come at us in very novel ways if we give them enough time. Training pilots in the United States, seizing aircraft, crashing them into buildings is a novel delivery way. Believe me, I can tell you, although I would prefer not to do it in open session, novel ways of delivering nuclear and radiation disposal devices that we never thought of because that was not the type of military we wanted to build, nor was it the type of military the Soviet Union decided to build to oppose us.
Iraq poses that tough problem of a country, if you give them enough time, the government remains extremely hostile to the United States and our allies and devotes tremendous amount of money to acquiring weapons of mass destruction. They will eventually surprise us in ways that will be terribly painful. And, in the area that I am concerned with, that is, nuclear, that means a much larger number of people potentially killed than were killed a year ago tragically. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am prepared to answer questions. Mr. HUNTER. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Kay can be found in the Appendix on page 68.]
Mr. HUNTER. Dr. Spertzel. STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD O. SPERTZEL, FORMER HEAD OF
THE BIOLOGY SECTION, UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMISSION ON IRAQ
Dr. SPERTZEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also will attempt to be brief. I could simply say that I agree with everything that Dr. Kay has just said. Having done that, I will cite a few examples from the biological program.
The biological or ex-biological warfare program was among the most secretive of the weapons of mass destruction programs. It began in the early 1970s. It would appear immediately after or certainly within a few months of them signing the Biological Weapons Convention. It was organized initially under the Iraqi intelligence service, and except for a few brief years in the mid-1980s, it remained under the intelligence service and, later, the special security organization, including up through 1990-91, and probably presently today.
In 1991, Iraq's biological weapons (BW) program was in an accelerating expansion phase; and it was not obliterated, as stated by
Iraq, and there is ample evidence that UNSCOM uncovered to support that. Its bacterial BW capabilities were well established, including its ability for production, concentration, spray-drying, and delivery to produce a readily dispersible small-particle aerosol.
Iraq had demonstrated an anticrop and mycotoxin capability and was developing a viral capability. It had developed both shortrange and intermediate-range weapons delivery capability, and the agents included lethal, incapacitating, as well as agricultural and economic weapons, a well-balanced program. Interestingly, Iraq's aflatoxin was in its long-term carcinogenic and liver toxicity effect rather than any short-term effect. That is not something that a nation-state would develop for military purposes. Your guess is as good as mine of what they might have had in mind for the development of aflatoxin.
Their program, from the very beginning, included both a military portion and what appeared to be a terrorist application. Iraq's BW program, like the nuclear, was so well known by the intelligence service that not one of its production sites was hit by a single bomb in 1991.
Iraq still maintains and retains the necessary personnel, equipment, and supplies to have an expanded capability. Even after the destruction in 1996 of its major bacterial production facility, Al Hakam complex, the production team, the key—what I would call "middle managers”—remained intact as a unit and began to work for the national monitoring director, which was the Iraqi equivalent to UNSCOM in Iraq.
It is my opinion that Iraq's greatest threat to the U.S., and certainly the U.S. homeland, is in the production of agents, bacterial agents, to be used by terrorists. They have the capability, they have the motive, and you know as well as I what their opportunity might be, because the terrorist delivery of biological weapons is something that, in my opinion, the U.S. Government cannot prevent from happening. All we can do is minimize the effects if and when such an event occurs.
Like Dr. Kay, I don't care how good your inspectors are, if you have a regime that is determined to deny, to deceive, the inspectors don't have a chance. Even when Iraq was allegedly forthcoming with their program in July and August of 1995, the first team in to collect details of their program and in support of things they were saying, they supplied falsified documents. In December of 1998, one of the last BW inspections in Iraq, they presented as evidence to us, for a point they were making, a document that had allegedly existed since 1992, but in point of fact, it didn't take much analysis to indicate that it was probably written on the 9th or 10th of December of 1998.
I am going to end my presentation with a little anecdote. I am not particularly noted for my tact, and on one occasion, I couldn't take the lying anymore and I said to the individual, I said, “you know that we know you are lying, so why are you doing it?" Ănd the individual very huffily straightened himself up and said, “Dr. Spertzel, it is not a lie when you are ordered to lie.” Where do you go from there?
I think with that, Mr. Chairman, let us get on with the questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Spertzel can be found in the Appendix on page 62.]
Mr. HUNTER. Dr. Spertzel, thank you very much. Thank you for your testimony.
And, Dr. Kay, you have indicated they have the team that can put together a nuclear weapon and that that team is intact in Iraq. În your opinion, just from your knowledge of the weapons program and our interruption of that program and the capability of the people that they have in Iraq, the technicians and the scientists, what do you think in terms of how far away they are from having a system? What is your best estimate?
Give us a conservative look and a more liberal look. Dr. Kay. By training, I am taught to separate what I know from what I believe and from what I know, knowing it by methods that I would call part of the scientific tradition and my beliefs often from experience, so let me try to separate that out.
The key missing component of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program is exactly what has been the key for everyone who has tried to develop nuclear weapons. Nature did not make it easy for us to get the fissile material that is the explosive part of a nuclear weapon. There are two ways that Iraq has to do it, and there is ample evidence that they have explored both.
The first is a straightforward way of trying to produce it yourself. And, that is what they were doing prior to 1991 as their principal means of doing it. The best estimate I have seen and which corresponds with mine is one issued earlier this year by the German intelligence service, which said, based on the procurements that they had detected in Western Europe by Iraqi agents—and let me stress we are talking about those that have been detected, and what you don't know is what you haven't detected and that is what should probably worry you more that on their bases it would take Iraq three to six years to produce enough nuclear material for one or two devices of the initial design that we had found. That, in many ways, is a conservative estimate because that initial design required a lot more nuclear material than the second or third design would require if you knew what you were doing; and these were people who wouldn't learn what they were doing.
The difficulty with giving you that estimate is, I don't know when that three-to-six-year period started. Did it start when the inspectors left in 1998 or is it starting, as some people would like to say, maybe not until today? And the bounding of that estimate is, we could be within that three-to-six-year period now, or it could start sometime later.
I tend to view—and I stress this as a belief—there is evidence for it and there is evidence missing, which concerns me a great deal—when you look at their procurement activities, such as the recently reported aluminum tubes, but there have been others that have been detected. It strikes me that you are going after a program for which they are moving ahead already, so the three-to-sixyear period has already started.
The second way of obtaining nuclear material is by obtaining fissile material that someone else has produced. And, in this case, the most obvious way is the insecurity and corruption that surrounds the former program of the Soviet Union.
I indicated to you that we missed, or the U.S. intelligence service misunderstood, the size of the Soviet program. I have dealt directly with Russians since the fall of communism. Let me tell you, they don't know how much they produced; and that is one reason that you have appropriated so much money for the threat reduction program to try to bring some security to that.
The frightening thing about that statement—and we are talking roughly, let us say 20 to 40 pounds, if you want to use the English system of measurement, of highly enriched uranium, essentially less than a football size- I have, based on my experience, no reason to believe that our or any other intelligence service, would be able to tell you whether—when they have acquired that, if they have acquired that. That would require the type of resolution that you don't get out of high altitude or satellite photography. The only way you would know it is if you had someone inside the program. So, that means they could have it at any time.
Now, this would be a crude device. It would not be one that you would be happy to appropriate money for us having in our inventory. But believe me, in terms of the intimidation of one's neighbors and perhaps even an effective intimidation of the United States, the Iraqis might well be happy with one. How much would it take to have two, three and four? You are talking about amounts that depend on design.
Mr. HUNTER. What would be the killing power of that device that you just described?
Dr. Kay. Depends on where you put it and how you put it. A ground burst is the least effective way to employ a nuclear device. You would like an altitude that we had at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But on the other hand, in a port area like the Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles, the Port of Newark or the New York Port Authority, Norfolk, any number of places, interface on a ship between water and ground, it would be in probably tens of thousands, depending on where you do it.
You know, so much of this depends on the absolute employment technique. But let me tell you if you employed it in the Middle East, a single nuclear device going off in Saudi Arabia, the casualties would not just be in the crop dust from radiation from the device, the societies could not stand up to that sort of destruction and political threat. So you would have a sea change of immense size, just the threat of doing it.
As I said, there are innovative ways of delivering these that do not require ships, aircraft or missiles that one could imagine. So, that is what you are talking about.
The essential element—I am sorry for being so long on this-is the imprecision of the estimate that you have to get used to dealing with. We have a government that is trying to deceive us and conceal the program they have and that places extraordinary stress on, whether it be inspectors or intelligence services, to try to penetrate that concealment and deception. Based on our failure to do it prior to 1991, based on our numerous failures to penetrate a Soviet deception program, I have no confidence that we will know in advance of their declaration or use of a weapon, whether they have it.