23 September 2003

The tangled WMD web

Last month, Kay privately reported successes that were to be revealed to the public in mid-September. Kay told his superiors he had found substantial evidence of biological weapons in Iraq, plus considerable missile development.

Then early this month the Boston Globe reported that Kay was expected to report that although US troops and experts had been unable to find any hard evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or long-range missiles, they had uncovered a vast conspiracy to deceive United Nations inspectors.

But, as Joe Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC, pointed out, 'If the newspaper is correct, the Kay Report will mark the official retreat of US and British prewar claims. However unintentionally, it will be a direct refutation of official assertions that we had to go to war to prevent Saddam Hussein from using massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and possibly nuclear weapons. Though weapons stocks may still be found, Kay will focus on 'dual use' capabilities that could quickly be reconfigured to manufacture weapons. Though such plans would have been a violation of UN resolutions, this will also be an indication that UN inspections were working. As long as inspectors were in the country, Iraq apparently did not expect to get away with active weapons production.'

But it is unlikely that the ISG report will even be able to prove the experience of a conspiracy that lasted up to shortly before the war began.

Last week former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, in an interview with Australia's ABC television from Sweden, said he now believes Iraq destroyed its WMD 10 years ago and that intelligence agencies were wrong in their weapons assessment that led to war.

On the same program, another former UN weapons inspector, David Albright, said of Kay: 'He's not finding the kinds of things the [US] administration expected to find, large quantities of biological and chemical weapons or evidence that they were destroyed prior to the war.'

This is getting silly. No report. No WMDs. Why the hell did we fight this war?

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