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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
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.]
STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE 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 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 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.
And, Dr. Kay, thank you for being with us. The floor is yours, sir.
STATEMENT OF DR. DAVID KAY, FORMER UNITED NATIONS CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR IN IRAQ
Dr. KAY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In the interest of moving this along and getting to what I know you are interested in, I submitted a statement for the record and I propose to make just the briefest of comments to allow maximum time for you to ask your questions. I think that would probably be the way that would get us through this afternoon by the most effective means possible. Let me just start with a couple of very broad, general comments, because I think they are central to what you are going to be dealing with in your set of hearings. The first is to understand the wide extent of the Iraqi weapons program, and nuclear, which I will be talking about, that we found when we entered in 1991 and the extent to which it was a surprise.
I led the teams that went into Iraq initially after the war that discovered the enrichment procedure, the calutron, their initial centrifuge program, and eventually spent four days as a guest_of Saddam's state in a Baghdad parking lot for my endeavors. The briefings we received prior to going in from national intelligence services both in the West and in the Middle East did not point toward any large Iraqi nuclear program. Indeed, what we found was a program that had employed over 20,000 people, had cost well over $10 billion, had gone on for longer than a decade, had 24 major sites, most of which were not known prior to the war, nor were they bombed during the course of the war. It was unknown. Now, the reason that is important is for two reasons, and it should warn you how much you can know from intelligence from the outside. But, second, it describes the task of understanding and unmasking such a program.
For Iraq, by 1991 when we entered the program, their nuclear program was not a program of facilities that you could destroy. Iraq had understood, had conquered, all the secrets of producing a nuclear weapon. They had understood enrichment technology, and they were well on their way to very large enrichment facilities.
I will never forget on the second mission at a facility called Al Furat, which would have been, if completed, if the war had not intervened, the largest centrifuge facility in the entire-larger than any one in Western Europe. Only the Soviet Union had a larger facility. This facility was not known prior to the war. It was not destroyed, not attacked, even during the course of the war.
The Iraq nuclear program is made up not of facilities. It is made up of a large technical group of experts who unraveled all of the science from enriching to fabricating the device, to getting a workable-not a design that I would be happy to see the U.S. any longer employ, but not terribly different than our first nuclear weapons design. This is a program that is in the fabric of society. As long as the government wants to maintain it, it will maintain it, and it is too large to extract by simply destroying facilities.
The second thing I think that experience has taught me is how one cannot-how difficult it is to put it in a positive sense for na
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