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Comprehensive Report, Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's WMD, September 23, 2004

Comprehensive Report, Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's WMD, September 23, 2004, Excerpts. The full report is available at http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/

The February 2003 assessment by Dr Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, that there was no evidence that Iraq still had WMD or significant programmes, was confirmed by the Iraq Survey Group, comprising over 1,200 British and American experts in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons-related issues, which was given unlimited access to anywhere they wanted to go in occupied Iraq after the initial phase of the war had ended in May 2003. In his interim report in October 2003, Dr David Kay, head of the ISG, reported finding remnants of programmes, including a clandestine network of laboratories with equipment suitable for continuing chemical biological weapons research, but no weapons or evidence of ongoing programmes. Dr Kay resigned in January 2004 and was replaced as ISG head by Charles Duelfer, another American and former UN weapons inspector. On September 30, 2004, Duelfer published his findings, titled "Comprehensive Report, Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's WMD".

Duelfer provided a brief summary of Saddam Hussein's WMD ambitions and acknowledged the "excruciating dilemmas... [and] chronic, systemic fear on the part of the best and the brightest" of Iraq's scientists and intellectual elite. He concluded that with the over-riding objective of ending international sanctions and constrains, Saddam Hussein decided to dispense with WMD a "a tactical retreat in his ongoing struggle". Consequently, Iraq had not produced new WMD and there was no proof of any bioweapons stocks since 1991, though "some production capacity that Baghdad thought could be passed off as serving a civilian function was retained". Iraq's WMD programmes had thus been allowed to decay almost completely since the end of the first Gulf War, and there were no deployable WMD of any kind as of March 2003, when the US went to war. However, the Report concluded that Saddam Hussein sought to convince his top military commanders that Iraq did possess WMD that could be used against the US invasion force in order to forestall a coup against him, and that he continued to try to smuggle WMD-related equipment in the hope of restarting all banned weapons programs as soon as multilateral sanctions against it had been dropped, a prospect that the Iraqi government saw coming soon: "From the evidence available through the actions and statements of a range of Iraqis, it seems clear that the guiding theme for WMD was to sustain the intellectual capacity achieved over so many years at such a great cost and to be in a position to produce again with as short a lead time as possible - within the vital constraint that no action should threaten the prime objective of ending international sanctions and constraints." In a further finding, the Duelfer Report concluded that the Oil for Food Programme had given Saddam Hussein opportunities for influence peddling: "Saddam applied a dual approach to this objective. On the one hand he emphasized the suffering of the innocent Iraqi civilian population and argued that the sanctions were immoral. At the same time he gave prominent vocal Iraq supporters and willing influential UN-officials lucrative oil allocations. He gave individuals a moral rationalization for their support and friendship to the Regime. This worked with individuals as well as countries... The Regime's strategy was successful to the point where sitting members of the Security Council were actively violating the resolutions passed by the Security Council."

While some findings have been questioned, the Duelfer Report provides insights that are of relevance for future understanding and avoidance of WMD proliferation, particularly in relation to the value accorded to WMD by Saddam and his regime, and in the ways in which Western cultural ignorance, arrogance and assumptions contributed to intelligence mistakes and misreadings. Drawing on interviews with Saddam Hussein after his capture in December 2003, Duelfer argued that Saddam's experience with WMD "had been very positive. Senior Iraqis have said that it was their firm conviction that the use of ballistic missiles and chemical munitions saved them in the war against Iran. Missiles allowed them to hit Iranian cities, and chemical munitions (101,000 were used) countered the Iranian "human wave" attacks... In addition, the Iraqis believed that their possession and willingness to use WMD (CW and BW) contributed substantially to deterring the United States from going to Baghdad in 1991. WMD demonstrated its worth to Saddam... He explained that he purposely gave an ambiguous impression about possession as a deterrent to Iran." With regard to US intelligence failures, Duelfer noted, "The key [Iraqi] Regime figures in the WMD area had a much better understanding of how the West viewed their programs than the other way around... The Regime, drawing on the experience of the 1990s with the UN and given the priorities to which it subscribed, scrambled the types of signatures they knew we would be searching for. This contributed to the difficulty in verifying what happened to Iraq's WMD." He also noted that "in the security-conscious world of Saddam, it would be surprising to find explicit direction related to sensitive topics like WMD." Such findings have potentially far reaching consequences for the proliferation challenges facing the world in relation to Iran, North Korea and non-state actors.

Source: US Central Intelligence Agency, http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/

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