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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?” And 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.
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.