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David Kay Press Conference

Aired October 2, 2003 - 17:10   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go right now to Washington. Apparently the testimony by David Kay, the weapons of mass destruction inspector, is complete. And we are hearing now from Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And let's listen.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: ...will be making a statement. I will follow with a statement, along with Senator Rockefeller. And we have invited Chairman Goss from the House side to make a statement and that we embargo this until 5:00 or there was an embargo on Dr. Kay's statement until 5:00.

With that, let me introduce Dr. Kay.

DAVID KAY, FMR. U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Thank you very much, Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller.

I have only a few short comments to make. As you know, I'm here today to deliver the interim progress report of the Iraqi Survey Group. It's interim, it's a snapshot in time, it's an ongoing investigation. We've been at work only three months. There's a lot more to do.

At this point we have found substantial evidence of an intent of senior-level Iraqi officials, including Saddam, to continue production at some future point in time of weapons of mass destruction.

We have not found yet -- and I'm sure you know this, otherwise you would know it earlier -- we have not found at this point actual weapons. It does not mean we've concluded there are no actual weapons. It means at this point in time -- and it's a huge country with a lot to do -- that we have not yet found weapons.

If I can speak of what we have found, in addition to intent, we have found a large body of continuing activities and equipment that were not declared to the U.N. inspectors when they returned in November of last year. This includes substantial equipment and activities in the chemical and biological area, a much more substantial activity in the missile area. The Iraqis were engaged in a very full-scale program that would have extended their delivery systems out beyond 1,000 kilometers. That is enough to reach Ankara, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh. And these were both ballistic missiles and land-attack cruise missiles, the refit Chinese silkworm. The report lays out for the committee and for others considerable detail about what this is. And I will just conclude by saying, believe me, we're working as hard as we can, we know the importance that is attached to this work, but we have a lot more work to do before we can conclude that we're at the end of the road, as opposed to still at the beginning.

QUESTION: How much more time will you devote to that?

KAY: My guess is -- and everyone asks this question. I keep saying, I know it's a question my mother would have told me not to answer because I'm going to live with it. But the answer is, I believe in six to nine months we will be at the stage where we can draw a line and say -- there probably will be more to find.

Believe me, if I wanted to go into business, I would go into the metal detection business in Iraq. I think for 100 years they will be digging up the relics of Saddam's empire that is buried over the country.

We won't have found everything. We will know the program and be able to report, "This is what they had, this was their intention."

QUESTION: From six to nine months, you think you can draw a line that says, "We should stop the search now, we should scale it down," or what?

KAY: I think we can say at this point in time we know most of what we're going to know about the program.

There still will be things to discover. I'm not sure -- we can go on for 25 years and I think we'd still discover some stuff.

QUESTION: Dr. Kay, why does the amount of money this job is going to cost -- why is that secret when earlier budget requests have put in in the open the amount of money...

KAY: Beats me. You're talking to a guy who lives in the field and I don't do budgets or windows.

QUESTION: But is there something sensitive about what you and your people are doing in the field that needs to be kept secret...

KAY: There's a lot that's sensitive about what we're doing. I'm the wrong person to ask budget questions.

QUESTION: Why is it twice as large as the originals, though?

KAY: Well, you must know what the number is.

QUESTION: Dr. Kay, for those senators who voted for war under the assumption that a threat was imminent, does your report suggest that there was not an imminent threat? Or what does it say in general...

KAY: I suggest you ask the senator about that. Imminence is a political policy decision. We're reporting what we find. What that meant in those terms is something that, in fact, senators are better able to address than I am.

QUESTION: Well, does your report then show that there were weapons there, or a weapons program, that would mean that an attack could be launched with chemical or biological or nuclear weapons soon or immediately?

KAY: We're still in the early phases of sketching out and understanding the full implications of the program.

People are going to have to have time and patience. We've found a great deal. We've reported a great deal and much of which was never declared to the U.N. and was unknown. We are not at the bottom line yet.

QUESTION: Dr. Kay, last time you were here, you said, "Don't be surprised by surprises." You hinted that something imminent might happen. Your tone this time seems much more measured.

KAY: No. My advice to everyone is still don't be surprised by surprises in Iraq.

A regime that hid so much, that buried so much, whose population is still fearful of talking and collaborating with the coalition, I'm convinced that at some time and some point -- and we've already found things that if you'd asked me the week before, I wouldn't have had the clue that they existed.

So, no, I'm not in any sense less optimistic about surprises. Surprises do happen when you're engaged in a large effort like this. I think there will still be surprises.

QUESTION: Can you say a little more about the rocket program?

KAY: I'm saying a lot more about the rocket program. I'm not sure how much more I can say at an unclassified level.

It was a program, multiple programs, liquid and solid fuel, as well as land-attack missiles. It involved foreign assistance as well. It would have put in their hands, in a time period we're still trying to be absolutely certain we understand, missiles that would have reached 1,000 kilometers with a significant payload.

QUESTION: And the payload you are expecting would be what?

KAY: We're still working to find out the payload the Iraqis expected.

QUESTION: Are you convinced the two mobile labs were weapons labs?

KAY: The mobile lab program, as you'll see when you look at the unclassified summary of the statement, is still something that is very much being examined. It was equally unsuitable for biological weapons, hydrogen, as well as rocket fuel regeneration. That is, it could have done either of those three; it would have done all of them almost equally unsuitable.

We simply are continuing our investigation. We're not yet at a point where we can say what they were for.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the working theories that we have heard about to explain why weapons haven't been found? They were secreted out of the country, possibly? There's a possible break-up program. Saddam Hussein maybe was himself sort of duped into thinking he had them.

KAY: Look, I looked to The Washington Post and The New York Times to tell me what my working hypotheses are. I am sort of equally surprised when I read them there.

There is a range of hypotheses. This is the nature of an inspection regime. Literally, once a week we go through a formal review and we say, "What hypothesis best fits what we've discovered to this date?"

We have five or six of those that we're working.

KAY: Those I've seen in the press are indeed among the five or six. I would not say any of them I've read are the leading one. They're certainly not the only one. I'm not even sure -- in fact, I'm unsure -- that they'll be the ones that we'll finally lock into.

It's just the process of exploration. Believe it or not, it's what you do when you're trying to figure out what unknowns mean. You try to fit them into patterns. That's what journalists do everyday.

STAFF: Dr. Kay has a commitment, so we'll allow one more question, please, for somebody who hasn't asked one.

QUESTION: Have you found any evidence of a nuclear program at all?

KAY: The evidence we have found in the nuclear program at most right now was just -- very tentatively -- a restart on the program at the very most rudimentary level. It is the program right now that we probably know the least about and have the least confidence in saying what it meant. But it clearly does not look like a massive resurgent program, based on what we've discovered now.

But we are still actively, as I would say about the other programs, probing to see what we have not found.

Three months and, you know -- you have to remember, this was a program that took 20 years, billions of dollars and thousands of people engaged in it, and they tried to hide it. They hid it for very good reasons. The Israelis attacked one of the reactors in 1981, on June 8, 1991, as I recall the date -- June 6, actually I think it was.

KAY: You know, it's not going to be obvious. Just walking in the country is not going to reveal the truth. You have to work at it and you have to work at it hard, and that's what we're trying to do.

ROBERTS: Thank you very much, Dr. Kay.

KAY: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Senator Rockefeller?

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I don't think there were any surprises, any new surprises. And I don't really believe there are any impending surprises.

There was talk about facilities that "might." There was talk about "intent" right here by Dr. Kay. But there was no talk about weapons of mass destruction and their potential use back at the time that the Congress voted to give the president the authority to go to war.

Here we are months later and Dr. Kay is essentially saying, "I need a lot more time." And from my own point of view I would judge that he is probably talking about six to nine more months in order to find out whether he can find any evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's the reason we went to war, and that's the reason that some of us voted on that authorization bill. And to be where we are today without any evidence, talking about intent, talking about facilities, but nothing we can point to, and then asking for another six to nine months and a good deal of money, leads me to believe that we need to do some serious thinking about the doctrine of preemption, that we need to do some serious thinking about where did our intelligence allow us to get so that we could make these kinds of conclusions that we would decide to go to war.

ROCKEFELLER: Did we misread it, or did they mislead us, or did they simply get it wrong?

Whatever the answer is, it's not a good answer.

And so, you know, I think, from my point of view, we have to wait until Dr. Kay has a final report. I think he has encouraged us to do that. And I don't think we can be inaccurate in this. But I must say that I'm distressed at the need for so much more time and so little found. And no surprises.

O'BRIEN: We have been listening to Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia. There is the chairman of the committee, Pat Roberts. And prior to that, of course, the man at the center of all this, the man who has been hunting for weapons there, David Kay, offering us essentially what he said was substantial evidence of intent to manufacture weapons of mass destruction by high-ranking Iraqis. But nevertheless, no evidence -- concrete evidence -- of existing weapons of mass destruction.


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