For Immediate Release: September 25, 2003
Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball: (202) 463-8270 x107;
Paul Kerr, Research Analyst, (202) 463-8270 x102
(Washington, D.C.): News reports today suggest that a much anticipated report by the Bush administration's top Iraqi weapons inspector David Kay will not offer conclusive evidence supporting the administration's pre-war claims that Iraq had accumulated extensive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons or revived its pursuit of nuclear weapons. If true, it's ever clearer that Iraq did not pose the urgent threat that the administration charged.
"The Bush administration should be forthright about the Kay report, publish its findings, and explain to Congress and the American people why it used discredited and disputed claims about the Iraqi WMD threat to make its case for war," recommended ACA Executive Director Daryl Kimball today.
Outside arms control experts argued before the March invasion of Iraq that the international arms inspection and disarmament process initiated after the 1991 Persian Gulf War had successfully led to the dismantlement of the bulk of Iraq's illicit weapons programs. They further contended that the return of UN arms inspectors to Iraq last November would constrain Saddam Hussein from developing or hiding militarily significant quantities of weapons and urged greater Iraqi cooperation in resolving outstanding concerns.
The work of the UN weapons inspectors between November 2002 and March 2003 substantiated these claims. They did not unearth any evidence proving Iraq had resumed major weapons activities, particularly with regard to nuclear weapons. But the Bush administration belittled and dismissed these reports and disparaged the arms inspection process as ineffective, arguing that the arms inspectors could not account for some weapons and materials that Iraq had prior to 1991. Yet, the lead UN arms inspector, Hans Blix, cautioned that one should not equate "not accounted-for with existing." Blix now says that as more time passes without dramatic weapons discoveries, it is increasingly plausible that Iraq may have destroyed its illegal weapons during the 1990's.
Blix's view is shared by former UN weapons inspector Frank Ronald Cleminson, who wrote an article on the Iraqi weapons search in the September 2003 Arms Control Today. Cleminson's article can be accessed on the ACA Web site's Iraq resource page, <http://www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/>, along with other information on Iraq, including a July 9 press conference with former State Department intelligence official Greg Thielmann charging that the administration exaggerated the case for war, <http://www.armscontrol.org/events/iraq_july03.asp>.
Also available on the ACA Web site:
· An extensive June 16 Arms Control Today interview with Hans Blix;
· A comparison of the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's nuclear program with U.S. intelligence and UN weapons inspectors' assessments;
· A chronology of Bush administration statements on Iraqi efforts to import uranium from Niger; and
· Reports on the record of arms inspectors in Iraq.
Media interviews with Cleminson, Thielmann, and Jonathan Tucker, a chemical and biological weapons expert who participated in the UN arms inspections process, can be arranged through the Arms Control Association.
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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies to address security threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, as well as conventional arms.