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– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
New Iraq Weapons Report Undercuts Rationale for War, Administration's "Reconstitution" Claim Misleading

For Immediate Release: October 6, 2004

Press Contacts: Daryl Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107; Paul Kerr, (202) 463-8270 x102

(Washington, D.C.): The new report by the second leader of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, confirms once again that the Bush administration vastly overstated the Iraqi weapons threat and that UN-mandated weapons inspections had effectively dismantled and contained Saddam’s capability to rebuild his weapons programs, according to leading arms control and intelligence experts.

“Duelfer’s report reinforces the major findings of his predecessor, David Kay, and the Senate Intelligence Committee, which make it clear that the White House ignored growing indications that key conclusions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s alleged unconventional weapons programs were deeply flawed,” said Greg Thielmann. From 2000 to 2002, Thielmann headed the office in the Department of State’s intelligence bureau responsible for monitoring Iraqi weapons.

In the fall of 2002, analysts from the Departments of State and Energy strongly disputed the assertion that Iraq had acquired aluminum tubes to enrich uranium for weapons, while the CIA warned the president against the credibility of the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

“Not only did the White House continue to use dubious intelligence assessments, but the president ignored the on-the-ground reports from the UN weapons inspectors, which cast further doubt on the administration’s claims,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Prior to the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003, the UN-mandated weapons inspectors reported that they could not find evidence of either active nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs or stockpiles. They were also overseeing the dismantlement of prohibited missiles. Although the inspectors could not account for some discrepancies in Iraq’s declaration of its previous weapons programs and stockpiles, chief inspector Hans Blix warned against equating “unaccounted-for stockpiles with existing weapons.”

“Rather than ordering a new U.S. intelligence assessment, President Bush continued to mislead the American people by claiming two days before the invasion that ‘Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,’” charged Thielmann.

Incredibly, during the Sept. 30 presidential debate, President Bush still misrepresented the situation in Iraq on the eve of the U.S.-British intervention. He asserted that without the invasion, “Saddam had the capability of making weapons, and he would have made weapons.”

“The bottom line is that Saddam’s capabilities were severely diminished by UN-mandated weapons inspections and international sanctions and they would have continued to contain him if Bush had not prematurely ended them,” said Kimball.

“Intelligence is meant to inform government decision-making, not to be invoked or discarded selectively to justify predetermined political decisions. It is time for the president to come clean with the American people and admit his errors,” concluded Thielmann.

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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. For ACA’s Iraq-related resources, visit <www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/>

 

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