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CIA Hopes Kay Can Save the Day

Friday, 13 June 2003 12:00 AM

Dr. Kay, 63, will be based in Iraq and will be in charge of refining the overall approach for the search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, with the Department of Defense’s Iraq Survey Group providing him direct support.

Before his appointment, Kay was a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies with a concentration on counterterrorism and homeland security issues. He was formerly a Corporate Senior Vice President at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and a leader in that group’s efforts to support the U.S. Government's counter-terrorism initiatives and efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Most importantly, he served as the U.N.'s Chief Nuclear Weapons Inspector, leading numerous inspections into Iraq following the end of the Gulf War to determine Iraqi nuclear weapons production capability.

And by his own admission, there is no one more skeptical of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s sinister ability to cover the tracks of WMD.

On his watch, an aggressive Kay located the major Iraqi center for assembly of nuclear weapons, and seized large amounts of documents on the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, spending four days as a Saddam hostage in a Baghdad parking lot.

Long before the Coalition’s war was launched against the regime, while still in the plodding era of UNSCOM, Kay proved ever ready to criticize:

“We UNSCOM inspectors simply did not have the resources to win a game of hide and seek. The number of inspectors was always terribly small -- seldom more than 300 in the country at any one time. And we were totally outclassed by Iraqi security, which had managed to infiltrate the United Nations in Vienna and New York, as well as the Bahrain office of UNSCOM.”

“Much has been made of the value of surprise inspections, but little has been said about how hard they are to conduct,” Kay said. “Between 1991 and 1998, UNSCOM conducted almost 500 inspections. Of those, only about six truly surprised Iraq.”

“By 1996,” Kay once explained, “UNSCOM and the IAEA had switched almost entirely from searching for specific weapons to trying to limit the ease with which Iraq could use its permitted dual-use facilities to produce them.”

On some occasions, Kay’s rhetoric was reminiscent of themes that were to later emerge in Powell and Bush speeches. Case in point:

“The only evidence of Iraq's weapons program we need has been clear since early December, when it filed yet another weapons declaration that was anything but full, final and complete. Iraq continues to ignore its international obligations. Let's not give it more time to cheat and retreat.”

During one interview with PBS Frontline, Kay was asked to sum up what had been the problems with the I.A.E.A.'s monitoring of Iraq's nuclear weapons program:

“For ten years they had been inspecting twice a year,” Kay responded. “As a matter of fact, they had been inspecting three sites that are separated only by 300 yards in the midst of over 200 other buildings. They hadn't looked or even asked to look at the other buildings.”

Kay likes to point out the enormity of Saddam’s investment in WMD. “In the nuclear area, for example, it turned out they had spent over $10 billion in the 1980s to develop a program that explored practically every known way to enrich uranium, and to craft a nuclear weapon. This was not a small program. It was one that was so extensive, that as an inspector, when you faced it, your mind boggled. The largest team I ever took into Iraq was a team of 44 individuals, and we were expected to root out by ourselves this massive program?”

Kay added on the subject, “It was clear by 1994 that Saddam was willing to spend almost any amount of money. You have to realize, by 1997, he had foregone over $100 billion of revenue just from deferred oil exports. So, sure, he was willing to accept huge costs.”

One of Day’s favored anecdotes of his time on the ground in Iraq involves the time when he and his team watched helplessly as the Iraqis spirited out the back gate of a complex a collection of calutrons, giant magnets used to enrich uranium.

In the end Kay explained that he saw the writing on the wall – long before the Bush administration featured it in its campaign to go to war: “For me, the real change occurred in '94. By '94 I was no longer an inspector, but I was testifying and writing on Iraq. And if you go back to those writings, it was in '94 that I started writing, 'There is no ultimate success that involves UNSCOM. It's got to be a change of regime. It's got to be a change of Saddam.'"

Kay in the past also presaged the Bush administration’s disgust with an apparently paralyzed U.N. “If you listen to what the U.N. Secretary General [Kofi Anan] has said, he's said, ‘Let the past be past.’ That means let Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program that survived the war and have survived eight years of inspection exist.

Kay was in early agreement with the Bush camp that time was not on the side of any coalition of the willing: “Iraq knows the secrets of how to make nuclear weapons. What they lack today is not scientific talent. They don't lack the secrets and technology. They've solved all those problems. What they lack is time and access to nuclear materials. If the Iraqis were able to import, for example, from a Soviet program--that has now fallen apart--nuclear material, plutonium or high-enriched uranium, it would take them only a matter of months to fabricate a crude weapon. Now, a crude weapon, if it goes out over you, it is effective enough.”

In his introduction of Kay, Tenet praised him as a man made of the right stuff – with the savvy to discover the truth of Saddam’s WMD. This time Dr. Kay will not be stymied by the tricks and subterfuges of an intact Iraqi regime. As he hits the ground running in Iraq, his may be the awesome responsibility of exercising the last clear chance to solve the maddening mystery of the elusive WMDs.

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Dr. Kay, 63, will be based in Iraq and will be in charge of refining the overall approach for the search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, with the Department of Defense's Iraq Survey Group providing him direct support. Before his appointment, Kay was a Senior...
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Friday, 13 June 2003 12:00 AM
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