Kay: Iraq search team making significant finds
Discoveries include banned equipment, but no WMDs
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Although no weapons of mass destruction have been found by U.S. inspectors searching Iraq, Saddam Hussein's government was hiding prohibited equipment, laboratories and other activities of concern to those fighting terrorism, the leader of the U.S. search team said Sunday.
David Kay said Iraq had managed to conceal equipment related to the production of weapons of mass destruction from U.N. weapons inspectors.
Kay, Washington's chief weapons inspector and a special adviser to the CIA, leads the 1,200-strong Iraq Survey Group. In an interim report on its first three months of work presented to congressional intelligence committees last week, he said the group had found no chemical, nuclear or bioweapons, but had turned up evidence of a biological program. (Full story)
"We now have three cases in which scientists have come forward with equipment, technology, diagrams, documents and, in this case, actual weapons material, reference strains and botulinum toxin that they were told to hide and that the U.N. didn't find," he said Sunday.
Asked about nuclear weapons, Kay said the team can't prove that Iraq was pursuing them immediately before the war began in March.
"What we have said, and we said it in the report, we have numbers of Iraqis who tell us that Saddam was committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons," he said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." "And the issue is, how far along was that activity actually before the war?"
Kay said there was evidence that Iraq was interested in starting a nuclear weapons program, but the work was at an early stage.
He said on ABC's "This Week," "If someone had given them the enriched material or the plutonium, I think it would have taken them a year or less to fabricate a weapon from that material."
Kay said there was "significant evidence" that Saddam was in violation of U.N. resolutions banning certain weapons. In last week's report, for example, he detailed evidence that Iraq's missile program -- which he said showed evidence of foreign assistance -- would have eventually led to missiles that could travel 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) "with a significant payload."
U.N. sanctions against Iraq leveled after the Persian Gulf War of 1991 did not allow Baghdad missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers (93 miles).
Asked about the probability of finding weapons of mass destruction, the former U.N. weapons inspector said on "Fox News Sunday," "I simply don't know. I have tried to conduct a work program that guarantees us that if they are there, we will find them. ... I don't want to estimate. I want to have proof."
Because no weapons of mass destruction were found, the report prompted criticism against President Bush from opponents who accused him of going to war with Iraq too quickly. The claim that Iraq possessed banned weapons and was poised to use them was one of the U.S. government's main reasons for launching the war.
Bush has indicated that he felt vindicated by the group's preliminary findings.
The inspectors have found 130 large ammunition storage points containing more than 600,000 tons of arms -- one-third of the ammunitions stockpile of the U.S. military, Kay said.
He said he is optimistic that the survey group will "get to the bottom of the program" because of the number of Iraqis cooperating. He has asked for millions in additional funding and six to nine months to finish the work.