What Kay Found

The interim findings of David Kay and the Iraq Survey Group make two things abundantly clear: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in material breach of its United Nations obligations before the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 last November, and Iraq went further into breach after the resolution was passed.

Kay’s interim findings offer detailed evidence of Hussein’s efforts to defy the international community to the last. The report describes a host of activities related to weapons of mass destruction that “should have been declared to the U.N.” It reaffirms that Iraq’s forbidden programs spanned more than two decades, involving thousands of people and billions of dollars.

What the world knew last November about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs was enough to justify the threat of serious consequences under Resolution 1441. What we now know as a result of David Kay’s efforts confirms that Hussein had every intention of continuing his work on banned weapons despite the U.N. inspectors, and that we and our coalition partners were right to eliminate the danger that his regime posed to the world.

Although Kay and his team have not yet discovered stocks of the weapons themselves, they will press on in the months ahead with their important and painstaking work. All indications are that they will uncover still more evidence of Hussein’s dangerous designs.

Before the war, our intelligence had detected a calculated campaign to prevent any meaningful inspections. We knew that Iraqi officials, members of the ruling Baath Party and scientists had hidden prohibited items in their homes.

Lo and behold, Kay and his team found strains of organisms concealed in a scientist’s home, and they report that one of the strains could be used to produce biological agents. Kay and his team also discovered documents and equipment in scientists’ homes that would have been useful for resuming uranium enrichment efforts.

Kay and his team have “discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery . . . has come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that the Iraq Survey Group has discovered that should have been declared to the U.N.”

The Kay Report also addresses the issue of suspected mobile biological agent laboratories: “Investigation into the origin of and intended use for the two trailers found in northern Iraq in April has yielded a number of explanations, including hydrogen, missile propellant and BW [biological warfare] production, but technical limitations would prevent any of these processes from being ideally suited to these trailers. That said, nothing . . . rules out their potential use in BW production.” Here Kay’s findings are inconclusive. He is continuing to work this issue.

Kay and his team have, however, found this: “A clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to U.N. monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW [chemical-biological weapons] research.” They also discovered: “a prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for U.N. inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the U.N.”

The Kay Report confirms that our intelligence was correct to suspect the al-Kindi Co. of being involved in prohibited activity. Missile designers at al-Kindi told Kay and his team that Iraq had resumed work on converting SA-2 surface-to-air missiles into ballistic missiles with a range of about 250 kilometers, and that this work continued even while UNMOVIC inspectors were in Iraq. The U.N.-mandated limit for Iraq was a range of 150 kilometers.

The Kay Report also confirmed our prewar intelligence that indicated Iraq was developing missiles with ranges up to 1,000 kilometers. Similarly, Kay substantiated our reports that Iraq had tested an unmanned aerial vehicle to 500 kilometers, also in violation of U.N. resolutions.

What’s more, he and his team found that elaborate efforts to shield illicit programs from inspection persisted even after the collapse of Hussein’s regime. Key evidence was deliberately eliminated or dispersed during the postwar period. In a wide range of offices, laboratories and companies suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction, computer hard drives were destroyed, files were burned and equipment was carefully cleansed of all traces of use — and done so in a pattern that was clearly deliberate and selective, rather than random.

One year ago, when President Bush brought his concerns about Iraq to the United Nations, he made it plain that his principal concern in a post-Sept. 11 world was not just that a rogue regime such as Saddam Hussein’s had WMD programs, but that such horrific weapons could find their way out of Iraq into the arms of terrorists who would have even fewer compunctions about using them against innocent people across the globe.

In the interim report, Kay and his team record the chilling fact that they “found people, technical information and illicit procurement networks that if allowed to flow to other countries and regions could accelerate global proliferation.”

Having put an end to that harrowing possibility alone justifies our coalition’s action against Hussein’s regime. But that is not the only achievement of our brave men and women in uniform and their coalition partners.

Three weeks ago I paid my respects at a mass grave in the northern city of Halabja, where on a Friday morning in March 1988, Hussein’s forces murdered 5,000 men, women and children with chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein can cause no more Halabjas. His “Republic of Fear” no longer holds sway over the people of Iraq. For the first time in three decades, the Iraqi people have reason to hope for the future.

President Bush was right: This was an evil regime, lethal to its own people, in deepening material breach of its Security Council obligations, and a threat to international peace and security. Hussein would have stopped at nothing until something stopped him. It’s a good thing that we did.

The writer is Secretary of State.