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Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO),
Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of
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,
Testimony of Gary Milhollin
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin Law School
Before the Committee on Armed Services United States House of Representatives
September 19, 2002
I am pleased to appear today to discuss the threat from Iraq's mass destruction weapon programs, and the relation between that threat and the export of sensitive technology. Before getting into the substance of my testimony I would like to offer some items for inclusion in the hearing record. First, there are two recent articles written by my organization on inspections in Iraq, one from the New York Times and the other from Commentary magazine, together with a graphic prepared by my organization for the New York Times Week in Review that describes a series of dangerous nuclear imports and what one can learn from them. Second, there is a list of addresses in the United States where one can buy high-strength aluminum tubing similar to that recently intercepted on its way to Iraq.
I would like to begin by simply affirming that Iraq does have active programs for building weapons of mass destruction. We know that Iraq has a workable nuclear weapon design and lacks only the fissile material to fuel it. We also know that Iraq has recently tried to import high-strength aluminum tubing that our government says is suited to making centrifuge components which, in turn, are used to process uranium to nuclear weapon grade. Iraq also has an active program for making long-range missiles, and we know that Iraq has produced and weaponized nerve gas, mustard gas, and anthrax. In addition, we know that Iraq's procurement activities have continued throughout the 1990's despite the U.N. embargo.
The current status of these programs is summarized in my organization's website: www.iraqwatch.org. I invite the Committee to consult this site to obtain a continuously updated report on what we know about Iraq's mass destruction weapon efforts.
It is an unfortunate fact that Iraq has built these programs almost exclusively through imports. The great majority of these imports were from the West, and most of them were sent legally. Weak export controls were primarily to blame.
In February of this year, I had the privilege of testifying before this Committee on the new Export Administration Act, which is now under consideration by Congress. I made the point that this bill was conceived in a bygone period of history - the days before September 11, 2001. In reaction to the attacks on September 11, one would expect the United States to search for ways to strengthen controls on the sales of dual-use items. These sensitive products are the ones that terrorists and terrorist-supporting nations need to make weapons of mass destruction. Instead, we are going in the opposite direction. The bill now being considered would authorize the Commerce Department to drop export controls on the very items that our enemies would most like to use against us.
For example, I would like to draw the Committee's attention to the shipment of high-strength aluminum tubes that was intercepted recently on its way to Iraq. According to administration sources that were quoted in the press, the tubes could have been used to make gas centrifuges, which can process uranium to nuclear weapon grade. President Bush cited the shipment as evidence that Saddam Hussein still has an active nuclear weapon program.
If the bill now being advocated by the administration passes, however, these very tubes would be removed from export control. They meet the bill's proposed criteria for “mass market” items as well as for “foreign availability.” For this reason, they could be decontrolled by the Secretary of Commerce acting alone.
Such a decontrol would mean two things. First, the United States would no longer be able to interdict such shipments. We could never ask foreign countries to stop selling something that our exporters were entitled to sell without restriction. Thus, countries like Iraq would have a much easier time importing the means to make nuclear weapons.
Second, the Bush administration would be preparing to go to war to prevent Iraq from importing an item that the administration had decided was not important. This would damage our international credibility just when we need it most. We can't cite Iraq's appetite for aluminum tubes as justifying an attack or an ultimatum on inspections, and at the same time say that such tubes qualify for decontrol.
This week, the staff at my organization investigated the commercial availability of high-strength aluminum tubes. The staff identified numerous U.S. sellers of these tubes who were ready to take our order for as many tubes