Jeffrey LewisIraqi WMD (or lack thereof)

Former Iraq Survey Group head David Kay testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that “we were almost all wrong” about Iraq. He had earlier explained that the U.S. intelligence community was fooled by the “vortex of corruption” in Iraq that also duped Saddam. Iraqi WMD efforts, according to Kay, were “largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state.”

That is a great excuse, except there was ample unclassified evidence from UNSCOM that the Iraqi program was (perhaps fatally) crippled by such management problems. I highly suggest Robert E. Kelley (1996), “The Iraqi and South African Nuclear Weapon Programs: The Importance of Management,” Security Dialogue 27(1): 27-38.

Kelley, a former UNSCOM inspector himself, concluded in 1996 that, unlike the modest yet successful South African program, the “Iraqi program consumed vast resources, built huge factories and infrastructure – and was a spectacular failure. The reason for these differences lies in the management oversight of the programs.”

Kelley also examined “a series of Top Secret Iraqi documents [that] fell into IAEA hands through the efforts of a very tough inspection team led by David Kay of the USA.” Kelley concludes “the papers in question proved to be more student theses than blueprints.” Dejavu all over again.

Reading Kelley, Kay’s claim to be shocked, shocked at the disarray in the Iraqi nuclear program seems a little disingenuous.

Related items of interest include the Carnegie Endowment and the Arms Control Association trying to set the facts straight on WMD claims. David Kay tries another tack at helping out W.