WMD hunter says Iraq has none

America's chief arms hunter in Iraq has resigned and said he does not believe the country had any large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.

    Kay said he left the post due to a "complex set of issues"

    In a direct challenge to the Bush administration, which

    says its invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of

    illicit arms, David Kay said on Friday that it is unlikely anything significant will be found.

    "I don't think they existed," Kay said. "What everyone was

    talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last

    (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale

    production programme in the nineties," he said.

    The CIA announced earlier that former UN weapons

    inspector Charles Duelfer, who has previously expressed doubts

    that unconventional weapons would be found, would succeed Kay

    as Washington's chief arms hunter.

    Kay said he believes most of what was going to be found in

    the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been

    found, and the hunt would become more difficult once

    America returns control of the country to the Iraqis.

    Iraqi weapons threat 

    The United States went to war against Baghdad last year

    citing a threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. To

    date, no banned arms have been found.

    "I don't think they (Iraqi WMDs) existed. What everyone was

    talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last

    (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale

    production programme in the nineties" 

    David Kay,
    Former Iraq Survey Group leader

     

    In his annual State of the Union on Tuesday, President

    George Bush insisted former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein

    had actively pursued dangerous programmes right up to the start

    of the US attack in March.

    Citing a report to Congress in October, Bush said Kay had

    found "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related programme

    activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq

    concealed from the United Nations".

    "Had we failed to act," Bush said, "the dictator's weapons

    of mass destruction programmes would continue to this day."

     

    And on Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney said the

    United States had not given up on finding unconventional

    weapons in Iraq. "The jury is still out," he said in a radio

    interview.

    Iraqi resistance attacks

    Kay said he left the post due to a "complex set of issues".

    It related in part to a reduction in the resource and a change

    in focus of the Iraq Survey Group,

    which is in charge of the weapons hunt.

    ISG analysts were diverted from hunting for weapons of mass

    destruction to helping in the fight against Iraqi resistance attacks, Kay

    said.

    "When I had started out I had made it a condition that ISG

    be exclusively focused on WMD, that's no longer so," he said.

    "We're not going to find much after June. Once the Iraqis

    take complete control of the government it is just almost

    impossible to operate in the way that we operate."

    "I think we have found probably 85% of what we're

    going to find. I think the best evidence is that

    they did not resume large-scale production and that's what

    we're really talking about."

    Bush's main justification for war
    was the threat of Iraqi weapons

    Kay said he was going back to the private sector.

    Former UN inspector 

    In a statement announcing Kay's departure, CIA Director

    George Tenet praised Kay for his "extraordinary service under

    dangerous and difficult circumstances".

    Meanwhile, Duelfer, 51, is a former deputy executive chairman of the UN

    Special Commission that was responsible for dismantling Iraq's WMDs

    .

    He told NBC television earlier this

    month.

    "I think that Mr Kay and his team have looked very hard. I

    think the reason that they haven't found them is they're

    probably not there."

    But in a statement included in the CIA announcement,

    Duelfer, who will be based in Iraq and as CIA special adviser

    to direct the WMD search, said he was keeping an open mind.

    "I'm... absolutely

    committed to following the evidence wherever it takes us," he

    said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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