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US Officials Report Progress, Urges Patience in Search for Iraq's WMDs - 2003-07-31

U.S. officials leading the effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq say they are making progress, but are urging patience. They made their comments after briefing lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

David Kay just returned from Iraq, where the Central Intelligence Agency sent him to coordinate the search for Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Briefing reporters after meeting with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Kay reported that a team of U.S., British and Australian experts are making what he called "solid progress." He said the experts are finding new suspected weapons sites, thanks to the cooperation of Iraqis and documents discovered from former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime.

"The documents and the collaboration of Iraqis are leading us to new discoveries every day that further help us understand the full extent and nature of Saddam's program," said Mr. Kay.

Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator John Warner of Virginia said he was satisfied by what he heard in the three-hour closed briefing. "America and the world must exercise patience. Good, solid progress is being made," said Senator Warner.

Iraq's suspected weapons program was a key reason why the United States went to war in Iraq, but since coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein's government in April, no such weapons have been found.

Mr. Kay said he would not release any information about his team's findings until, as he put it, "a solid case is made" that will withstand international scrutiny.

Mr. Kay was joined by Army Major General Keith Dayton, who heads the Iraq Survey Group searching for evidence of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.