Iraq Survey Group Continues Search for WMDs
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 30, 2004 A U.S. official working with an international group of specialists searching post-Saddam Iraq for weapons of mass destruction said today that more work needs to be performed before arriving at any conclusions.
"I do not believe we have sufficient information and insight to make final judgments with confidence at this time" regarding the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein's WMDs, Charles A. Duelfer told Senate Armed Services Committee members here.
Duelfer's testimony before the committee was behind closed doors and his unclassified remarks were posted on the CIA's public Web site.
Duelfer said he's been the CIA's special adviser for strategy regarding Iraqi WMD programs for six weeks. His predecessor, David Kay, didn't find any WMDs in Iraq.
The senior U.S. official said he has begun a review of previous work performed by the Iraq Survey Group, headed by Army Maj. Gen. Keith W. Dayton.
Initial assessments by the American-, British- and Australian-staffed ISG, Duelfer noted, "could turn out to be misleading or wrong."
The ISG's mission, he observed, is "to determine all that was potentially being done related to WMD and the delivery systems for WMD" in Saddam-controlled Iraq.
"The ISG continues to look for weapons of mass destruction," Duelfer emphasized, adding the group also regularly receives reports "about WMD materials and weapons being buried or hidden across Iraq."
Duelfer said he was surprised by the "extreme reluctance of Iraqi managers, scientists and engineers to speak freely," which he said is making the ISG's work more difficult.
Consequently, Duelfer said, "there is more work to be done to gather critical information about the regime, its intentions and its capabilities, and to assess that information for its meaning."
Duelfer said the group is trying to find out whether Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction when it was toppled, and exactly what its WMD capabilities and intentions were.
Duelfer said he and the ISG continue to collect and analyze information to answer those questions. He emphasized, however, that he couldn't predict how long that work will take to complete.
"However, my goal is to have a comprehensive product, which will describe what we have found and, as fully as possible, the WMD efforts and plans of the leadership of this defunct regime," Duelfer concluded.