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David Kay: 'All in all, a very tough speech'

David Kay
David Kay  

(CNN) Former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector David Kay spoke with CNN's Leon Harris about the effectiveness of President Bush's speech to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.

CNN: Critics have said President Bush needed to lay out a specific case against Iraq. Do you think he was specific enough?

Kay: I thought it was an extraordinarily impressive speech. I think most Americans don't realize how hard it is to give a good speech for an American in the General Assembly. You are facing an audience with everyone wearing ear pieces, a lot of motion going on, you're diminished in the scale of a building that's so large.

The president did something I've very seldom seen an American speaker do there, and I've watched them for 35 years: he started by getting applause. He mentioned that the U.S. was returning to an organization we left 20 years ago, UNESCO. And he laid out what I thought was a very specific indictment of 11 years of behavior by Saddam Hussein designed to frustrate the Security Council's will in removing those weapons.

I found it was as impressive as the speech he gave to the U.S. Congress -- for a very different purpose -- a year ago.

CNN: Did the president say anything we have not heard him say publicly before?

Kay: No, it was putting the indictment of 11 years of behavior together that was impressive. Most people remember one incident or another incident. They don't realize there's 11 years of continuous defiance of the Security Council.

I was also impressed by the very tough words he used with regard to Saddam's behavior in other areas. For example, the refusal to repatriate prisoners of war, the torture involved with Iraqis in Iraq at the present time. All in all, a very tough speech

CNN: Was he convincing in making the case about the immediacy of the threat from Iraq?

Kay: I think he was. He spoke to the issue of how 9/11 has changed the world for all of us.

CNN: How do you think the General Assembly responded to the speech?

Kay: I thought the response was very good. I've always found the General Assembly to be one of toughest places to go. It doesn't have the scale of intimacy of the US Congress, for example. When you're there looking at it, the speaker always looks like a toy action figure. He's diminished. And you've got an audience with everyone listening to the speech in six or seven different languages.

I thought the president captured their attention by offering them something they wanted. He was very even handed on his discussion of the obligations of the Palestinians and Israel to find a course that provided both with a course of peace.

And he moved through his Iraqi thing by clearly laying out the challenge: the challenge is first to the Security Council, wider to the General Assembly. If they meet it, there are infinite possibilities of improvement in a number of issues of the world. If they fail to live up to that obligation, its stark for the U.N. and stark for Saddam Hussein.

CNN: Is there anything you wanted to hear the president say that he didn't?

Kay: No, I thought he covered all the essential bases. I think the next stage is to move to the Security Council where I think we will see the Administration laying out what it believes is an effective inspections approach as well as for a deadline for response.

I think it was perfectly proper -- and good communications -- not to put that in General Assembly speech. That's the Security Council when you get down to that and that's where it needs to be crafted.




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