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IN THE NEWS - Chief Weapons Inspector Report on Iraq Weapons - 2004-01-30

Broadcast: January 31, 2004

This is Steve Ember with In the News in VOA Special English.

Former chief United States weapons inspector David Kay has called for an independent investigation into the United States intelligence failure over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Mister Kay said he has found no such weapons in Iraq even though he and a number of governments, including the United States, believed they existed. Mister Kay blamed bad intelligence for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.

Mister Kay said he does not believe Iraq had many nuclear, chemical or biological weapons when American forces invaded the country last year.

The Bush administration noted intelligence showing Iraq had such weapons as the main reason for going to war to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Mister Kay spoke Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D-C. He said that people who believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were almost all wrong. He also said there was evidence that Saddam Hussein had made efforts to disarm long before President Bush began making the case for war.

However, Mister Kay also noted evidence that Iraq was involved in weapons programs banned by United Nations resolutions.

Some Democrats have suggested that the Bush administration pressured intelligence experts to shape the intelligence to help President Bush make the case for invading Iraq. But Mister Kay dismissed such comments. He said intelligence experts were never under political pressure.

Democrats also have called for an independent investigation. But Congressional Republicans and the Bush administration oppose such an investigation. They say it could harm intelligence efforts.

Mister Kay said questions about Iraq’s possible weapons of mass destruction may never be answered. He said that may be because many documents and other evidence were stolen following the American invasion of Iraq last year.

David Kay was special adviser to Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet. He was chosen last year as the leader of the Iraq Survey Group, partly because he believed that weapons would be found. Mister Kay resigned last week as the top American weapons inspector in Iraq. He said he did so because resources for the search were being redirected.

In another development this week, a British judge cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration of any wrongdoing over charges he overstated the Iraq weapons threat as a reason for war. Judge Brian Hutton said the British government’s understanding of the Iraqi threat came from intelligence officials. The judge denounced the British Broadcasting Corporation for a report accusing the Blair administration of falsely representing the evidence about Iraq’s weapons. The chairman of the B-B-C later resigned.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.