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STATE OF IRAQI WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM AND THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED NATIONS INSPECTION EFFORTS

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,

Washington, DC, Tuesday, September 10, 2002. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 4:05 p.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter presiding.

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, A

REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA Mr. HUNTER. The committee will come to order. Today, on the direction of our chairman, Bob Stump, 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 (UNSCOM) 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 Nations (U.N.) resolutions, its illicit development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), 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 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) earlier this afternoon after the hearing we just closed on Iraqi threats; and we 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. David Kay, former United Nations chief nuclear weapons inspector in Iraqand, Dr. Kay, thank you for being with us today; Dr. Richard O. Spertzel, former head of the biology section of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq-and, Doctor, thank you for being with us today. We welcome you and thank you for appearing on such short notice. The committee looks forward to your testimony. But before we ask you to give your opening remarks, I want to invite Mr. Skelton, the ranking Democrat on the committee, to offer any comments he might have.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter can be found in the Appendix on page 57.]

he might haing Democrpening remarks

STATEMENT OF HON. KE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE

FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES

Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much and let me say a special thanks to our witnesses. Your being here will be very helpful to us. I know that the members will have some very pointed questions for you, and we are very grateful for your being with us today

In the past week, the President 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 Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. What the administration has not ex. plained 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 other interests around the world.

Now, 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, that is what we are about, and one that works with the United Nations. The polls 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" and "Why now?"

The best way to get answers is through hearings such as this. And, I thank the ranking chairman, Mr. Hunter, for agreeing to these hearings. Before the administration and the Congress can decide on the best course of action, we must clearly understand the threat.

The witnesses before us today have both served on teams in Iraq and as part of the United Nations-sponsored inspections. Gentlemen, I hope you will both be able to help this committee and help us understand the likely state of the Iraqi weapons systems, what we know for sure about Iraqi capabilities at this point, and what information we do have based on imperfect knowledge. What will it take to know exactly what capabilities the Iraqis have when approaches short of an invasion and regime change could help destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?

Any decision against Iraq must begin with answers to basic questions, and you can help us with answering those questions here today. And we thank you very much for your attendance.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Skelton can be found in the Appendix on page 59.] Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Skelton.

I might add before we start, Dr. Kay, with you, that our chairman, Bob Stump, who directed that we have these hearings, would very much like to be with us today, but he is under the weather right now, and as a result of that, can't be with us. But, we all wish him the very best.

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