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Inspector Voices Concern over Iraq's Foreign-Assisted Weapons - 2003-10-03

U.S. arms inspector David Kay said the United States wants to stop countries that helped Iraq's missile program from assisting other nations. He made his comments after briefing members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Kay told the committee what he told other lawmakers the day before - that his team has found no weapons of mass destruction, but that there is evidence of biological, chemical and missile programs.

He expressed concern that other nations had been helping Iraq with its missile program. "There was considerable foreign assistance to the missile program. Some of this still remains classified, because we are actively pursuing that assistance. Not only is it related to Iraq, our fear is that that same assistance may be made available to other countries, and we would like to close off that avenue of proliferation," he said.

Mr. Kay said Iraq had a program that allowed a missile range of more than 1,000 kilometers, when it should have been limited to 150 kilometers under U.N. resolutions.

Congressional Democrats are seizing on Mr. Kay's report to challenge administration motives for going to war. With no weapons of mass destruction found by Mr. Kay's team after three months of searching, Democrats note that President Bush made such weapons a key reason for invading Iraq.

Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts said, "I did not believe there was an imminent threat to the United States when we went to war, and I am more convinced after listening to him [Mr. Kay] that there never was a threat, either."

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Kay's report underscores the need for his committee to continue probing pre-war intelligence.

"What that reinforces is the need for the investigation to be completed into our intelligence as to how, at least based on this interim report, it could have been so far off, and whether or not it was hyped, either by the intelligence community or by the users of that intelligence," Mr. Levin said.

But committee chairman Senator John Warner, a Virginia Republican, sees it differently. He said, "Dr. Kay and his group have clearly found significant evidence to support [the argument] that Saddam Hussein, right up to the beginning of this war, was in violation of the U.N. resolutions as it regards weapons of mass destruction."

Mr. Warner quoted Mr. Kay as saying his team is receiving greater cooperation in the weapons search from Iraqis who are in custody of the U.S.-led occupation forces.

Mr. Kay, who has 1,200 people working on the search in Iraq, said he hopes to conclude his work in six-to-nine months. He will give Congress another update on his effort in January.