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come up with appropriate contracts and support to protect their nuclear materials? Do you agree with that?
Dr. KAY. I absolutely do and when I said that the six months, if they obtain fissile material, I used the easy answer of the insecurity of the former Soviet supply. We should be concerned about nuclear material wherever it exists and it has the greatest possible security surrounding it.
Mr. SNYDER. The issue of why we are here, and your comments have been very helpful, but earlier I think you made the comment that we have to make a decision about what kind of risk we are willing to run. I believe the lady phrased it, “Are we willing to run the risk of keeping Saddam Hussein in power?” To me it seems like it is not a question of are we willing to put up with the risk of Saddam Hussein being in power. To me it becomes a trade-off. There is not going to be a risk-free world, and I guess, as General Scowcroft has been making the point, his theory that we need to consider the possibility that a military action bringing about a regime change in Iraq may impede the ongoing activities we have against al Qaeda because it is so dependent on international cooperation. I don't know what the number is now. We think al Qaeda cells are active in 50 to 60 countries. I mean, this is going to be a different kind of war because it is going to be like an international crime fighting operation. It really does depend on a lot on international cooperation. I was struck by your comments that you all had finding in Iraq, finding on the ground, finding the materials. And yet what we are trying to do in these 50 or 60 countries is find, what, 3 to 5,000 people who may have been hiding out there for several years working, having families and doing everything completely legal, and yet we are clearly going to be dependent on the host country.
So to me, it is a complicated issue and it is a weighing versus, you know, the risk of Saddam Hussein being in power to age 65 versus how it impacts on other aspects of our national security. And then you have a whole issue of—which concerns some members and certainly a lot of people and the American public about the effect of a war itself.
Senator Lugar I think, brought up when they had a hearing about six weeks ago the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq under a new regime, and you know brings up this issue, is it the geopolitical forces that are driving Iraq or is it Saddam Hussein? You make the comment in your statement, “As long as the government remains in Baghdad committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that capability can be expected to become without much warning a reality.” Senator Lugar's question was, we spend five, six, eight years there, tremendous expense, have our first elections, we leave. The first state of the union address of the new regime in Baghdad, and they say because of the threats of Israel and Iran we need to develop a weapons of mass destruction program. I mean that is not an unreasonable possibility in that neck of the woods.
So I appreciate your comments today. I think these really are difficult and complicated issues. I was a bit disappointed to hear your description of the resources you had. Retrospectively that looks like a lot of, I don't know, lack of foresight on the part of all of us of
the international community that as you described the golden period of Yemen and Cuba congratulating you would have been wonderful if you had 10 times or 50 times the resources for you right then. Now my recollection of the research is eight sports utility vehicles (SUVs) stopped somewhere for hours at a time and in the early days that wasn't the case.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I agree with Dr. Snyder that this is an extremely complex and complicated subject, and I suspect from the comments that I have heard, not today necessarily, but over the past several months and during August in particular, lead me to believe that there is a lot of confusion in the country about this subject.
And let me just ask this question. Let me say this first, I guess. The Secretary of Defense was here in June or July and he spoke of the need to have a discussion about whether and when it is appropriate to decide to have preemptive strikes, and I was taken with that question because I hadn't thought about it in that context before. And I have been struggling with that question, when is it appropriate to have preemptive strikes?
And then during August, President Bush said—I guess it was while he was working at the ranch in Texas—that he was very concerned about the situation in Iraq. And I don't remember exactly what he said, but his message was, it is time for a regime change and the regime change is necessary because of the development of weapons of mass destruction, particularly with nuclear weapons. And Dr. Kay, in your early remarks you said something like this. And I think I have the words about right, you said prior to 1991, which was over a dozen years ago, Iraq fully understood the process of building a nuclear device. Experts in Iraq have unraveled all of the science necessary. Can you tell us in helping us to decide these questions what led you to that conclusion?
Dr. Kay. Well, we were extraordinarily fortunate on the third mission I took in of–because of a mistake the Iraqis made and that is where accidents play a role, seizing the records, the actual records of the Iraqi atomic energy program. So we have a bureaucratic record of progress reports that they filed. We also in the first mission uncovered their major electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) enrichment process and then discovered their centrifuge process. So we actually had physical evidence plus documents. I mean, the ideal unraveling. And inspection is often like a white collar crime investigation. All too often you are dealing with people, you can't really sweat the people as much as you would want to and you get some written records and then you search for physical evidence and put it together.
In the nuclear area, much more so than in the biological area, we were lucky in that early on, we were able to combine physical records with actual physical evidence, buildings and devices with the actual written records of much of their programming, including design documents of the device. So that is a result of that sort of analysis. And I will say again, I was extraordinarily lucky and fortunate in being able to go in immediately after the Gulf War. Iraq
was still a disorganized country in many ways. They hadn't learned—I had an Iraqi official tell me, "You don't behave like the U.N. inspectors that we had prior to the Gulf War.” I took that as a compliment. No, we didn't. We had a different set of resolutions that we were marching to. They hadn't quite caught on to how to deal with us.
So we were able to construct what I think most of us—there is very little disagreement about what we about what we decided they knew then, the area of uncertainty and the area many of you have focused on is where are they today and where will they be going tomorrow. And that is when you get to connecting dots and extrapolation. But that statement is based on hard physical evidence, interviews, people, and written documents. We seized-I think the final total was somewhere around 100,000 pages of documents. I view myself as the grandfather of the full employment of Arabic translators because we are still going through those documents today.
Mr. SAXTON. And not to be redundant, but didn't you also say earlier that you found in your investigation of certain sites—didn't you find a diagram of a nuclear device?
Dr. Kay. That is what I call the design documents. It is a diagram plus the scientific calculation.
Mr. SAXTON. And from your expertise as a nuclear physicist, do you believe that that diagram, if converted into an actual device, had the capability of working as an atomic
Dr. Kay. It is not my judgment. This was submitted to the U.S. and other national labs that have designed actual nuclear weapons. It is the combined judgment of at least three countries that have actually designed nuclear weapons.
Mr. ŠAXTON. And through other testimony you gave here today, you indicated there is only one element remaining.
Dr. Kay. Fissile material, yes.
Mr. SAXTON. And we don't know for sure if they have been able to acquire fissile material or not.
Dr. Kay. That's correct.
Mr. SAXTON. And if they do, how long would it take them to construct the device?
Dr. Kay. The best estimate is somewhere it is months rather than years and somewhere in the range of six months.
Mr. SAXTON. And I suspect that the President had been briefed on this information before he made his statement in August?
Dr. Kay. Yes, sir. We have not been quiet about it.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Chairman. It has been a very sobering hearing today. A lot of the questions that evidence and a lot of the questions that I am sure other Americans have had have been addressed today, and I am sure this discussion will continue to move forward, so we thank you even though this is information that some of us may not have wanted to hear, we greatly appreciate the several hours that you have spent here bringing us up to date on these issues. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. I want to thank the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey for asking again the key questions, and also, thank you Dr. Kay and Dr. Spertzel for the great contribution you have made to our country. And part of the strength of this country is individ
uals like yourselves who have a lot of integrity and the great intellect and the desire to serve in what have been some pretty inconvenient circumstances.
We appreciate the testimony you have brought us. We still have several members that have questions, and want to thank you for your endurance. And we still have a few members who have some questions, and we hope you would oblige us and let us continue. Mr. Larson.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you very much, and thank you, gentlemen, as the chairman pointed out, for your endurance, and also for your insightful and thorough comments today, as well. I think it was Judge Leonard Hand who said that it is democracy and liberty that leaves you thinking, perhaps you are not too sure. And I think that this hearing has demonstrated that, and yet there has been several key points.
I would like to ask three questions as they relate to weapons of mass destruction as it relates to, as we peel away the veneer and look at some of the economic underpinnings, the issue of oil, which was raised by Ms. Tauscher and others. And third, this notion of a regime change. Let me start first with the oil and say that I think, and I would like to associate myself with the remarks of Ms. Tauscher. I hope the President, when he goes to the U.N., does take to task the nations of Russia and France and China.
My question is, are there international and global corporations that are also dealing in breaking the sanctions in dealing with Saddam Hussein? Do you have any knowledge of that or do you know of oil companies that are dealing with Saddam?
Dr. Kay. I have no personal direct knowledge. It is not something I have devoted attention to.
Dr. SPERTZEL. Likewise. I don't know of any and I haven't heard
Mr. LARSON. The upsetting thing when I go back home and I speak to many of our citizens, they feel a lot of what is going on in terms of our overall policy and rationale for being in the Middle East starts and ends with oil. And that is not the purpose of your mission here today, but it is something that comes up repeatedly, and I think there is more than a thread of truth to that and more of a connection that needs to be drawn out in subsequent hearings. With regard to weapons of mass destruction, and I appreciate the distinction that you were making with Saddam Hussein, and yet you said a couple of times about your affinity for Iran.
And I believe you said something to the extent that “We understand why Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction, largely in response of and in fear of Saddam Hussein.” And yet the President has said, in the axis of evil speech that we have Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Now both North Korea and Iran we already know have weapons of mass destruction. So in getting to drawing a line in the sand and differentiating in terms of policy, who is next? If we need a regime change in Iraq, do we also need regime changes in Iran and North Korea?
Dr. Kay. Let me try. I will be clear that I don't exactly have an affinity for Iran. What I meant to convey is the Iranians clearly have a concern which one must understand about Iraq.
Mr. LARSON. I didn't mean, Dr. Kay, an affinity. It just seemed that way when you are dealing with their scientists and talking to their people.
Dr. Kay. They have an original security problem, and partly that is there. I think, in fact, the Iranian regime is as much as reprehensible in terms of terrorism and what they have done. So that is an issue. I do believe that a change in Iraq with an Iraqi regime that, in fact, chose to deal with its neighbors differently and dealt with weapons of mass destruction is likely to have a positive impact that we have not generally focused on, and that is what I was trying to refer to. I think it is going to be very difficult to bring effective pressure on the Iranians to end their weapons of mass destruction program as long as Iraq is pursuing one. As Americans, we tend to view everyone as to how they stand in relation to us. There is an historic issue of the Irish and English relationship, which we both know goes back, and there are other more complicating factors and Middle East is filled with these sorts of issues.
Mr. LARSON. To that point, and I appreciate your comments, and I know how late it has been, but to move to my final point that I would like to make for today, the notion of a regime change. Sometimes words in and of themselves become antiseptic, and I said that in earlier meetings that to me, it seems like the choice is pretty clear here, that either we are going to go in and Saddam Hussein either gets the death sentence or he gets life imprisonment. The death sentence is we go in and take him out with force, tactical, overwhelming, or whatever the case may be. There is, however, and we have dwelled a lot about the specifics as it relates to the danger of doing nothing, but the danger of that preemptive strike and what that means with a person who is willing to use his own people as human shields, where his defensible positions will be set up in school yards, in hospitals, and the marketplace. And the loss of life that will occur there has to give one pause. I was in Incirlik and saw a triage unit that was set up specifically to treat our soldiers, our kids who become inflicted with biological or chemical warfare.
Notwithstanding the cost where we know we are spending about a billion dollars a week in Afghanistan to prosecute the war, I think the cost and expense of resources to go in and prosecute and having the our two distinguished doctors here, as was asked by Mr. Spratt, draw up the procedure however skeptical you might be, that that seems to be the first course that this nation should go down before we decide that we are going to have a preemptive strike, lest all the things we were talking about before, a chain of events is unleashed within a whole community, that our preemptive strike unintentionally and unwittingly sets off.
Dr. Kay. I can't disagree with anything you have said. All I would say is, the question I keep asking myself, and this is a question that reflects on me, is “Do I think the cost to Iraqi citizens and to the men and women of the U.S. five years from now when he has five more years to further develop his weapons of mass destruction, would be less or greater than it would be if we took action now? And believe me, I am not foolish to believe it would be costless. I think it may not be as great as some people think it would be, but it clearly would not be costless. And I keep coming