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This Man Lobbied the US to Invade Iraq Over ‘WMDs’, but Had the Courage to Admit His Mistake



David Kay, the seasoned weapons inspector who said “We were all wrong” about the pretext of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was a man of integrity

Known for his aggressive inspection style and strong views regarding Iraqi compliance with their disarmament obligations, at the end of the day, David Kay showed his true grit by standing up to the world and confronting them with the fact that they all got it wrong on Iraq.

By the time I arrived in New York, in mid-September 1991, weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM, had been on the ground in Iraq on 16 separate occasions, starting in May. Most of the inspections had been conducted in accordance with the on-site inspection template born of the American experience in implementing the intermediate nuclear forces (INF) treaty, which had entered into force in July 1988 and represented the world’s first foray into on-site inspection as a means of arms control compliance verification.

This template amounted to a gentleman’s agreement, so to speak, where one side provided a thorough declaration of the locations and materials covered by an agreement giving the inspections authority (in the case of Iraq, this meant Security Council resolution 687, passed in April 1991, mandating the creation of UNSCOM and its disarmament mission), and the other side agreed to verify the completeness of that declaration, and oversee the disposition of the material involved, in a manner which respected the sovereignty and dignity of the inspected party.

But there had been some notable exceptions to this template. When Iraq provided UNSCOM with its declaration regarding its holdings of proscribed chemical, biological, nuclear, and long-range ballistic missiles (collectively known as weapons of mass destruction, or WMD), many nations who examined this declaration were taken aback by what was not included – Iraq had denied any involvement in either nuclear or biological weapons activities, and had significantly under declared its chemical and long-range ballistic missile capabilities.

American intelligence had detected evidence of the existence of large devices known as calutrons, which had been used by Iraq to enrich uranium. These devices were not declared by Iraq. In June 1991, an inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), operating under the authority granted to UNSCOM, conducted an inspection of a facility where the calutrons had been observed by US intelligence satellites. The team, led by an experienced safeguard inspector named David Kay, arrived at the location identified by the Americans, but were denied entry for three days. Once the team was allowed to go inside, there was nothing to be found – all the materials had been removed by the Iraqis.

The American satellites located a convoy of vehicles which were loaded with the calutrons at a military camp west of Baghdad. Inspection protocol called for the inspection team to provide the Iraqis with advanced notice of their intention to visit a site designated for inspection. This time, however, David Kay led his team to the designated site without providing the Iraqis the courtesy of advanced notice. Upon their arrival, the team was prevented from entering the site by armed guards. Two inspectors climbed a nearby watchtower, from where they could see inside the facility. They observed the Iraqis driving the vehicles out of the back of the camp and radioed this fact to the rest of the team. An inspection vehicle gave chase, and soon found itself alongside nearly 100 heavily-laden trucks, some of which carried the calutrons which, in the rush to leave the camp, the Iraqis had failed to properly cover. The inspectors took dozens of photographs, before they were forced to stop by Iraqi soldiers who fired warning shots over their heads.

The damage was done. A lengthy diplomatic standoff between the inspectors and Iraq ended once the UN Security Council threatened to authorize the use of military force. Ultimately, Iraq was compelled to admit that it had an undeclared program dedicated to the enrichment of uranium but denied that this effort had anything to do with a nuclear weapons program.

In a follow-up inspection in July, David Kay was able to ferret out enough inconsistencies in the Iraqi version of events which, when combined with an emerging technical picture drawn from the results of detailed forensic investigation and analysis, pointed to the existence of a weapons program.

In September, David Kay led another team of inspectors into Iraq. This inspection was different – instead of IAEA safeguards inspectors and nuclear specialists, the team consisted of a large number of US special forces and CIA paramilitary operatives trained in the art of sensitive site exploitation – in short, how to uncover documents and other materials hidden in a site. Armed with precise intelligence provided by Iraqi defectors, David Kay’s team was able to discover an archive of sensitive nuclear documents, including some which proved the existence of a nuclear weapons program. Kay’s team took possession of the documents but was prevented from leaving the site by armed Iraqi guards.

This standoff played out live on television, with David Kay becoming a household name through his numerous interviews conducted via satellite telephone. After several days, the Iraqis once again relented, releasing the inspectors and the documents, and were forced once again to rewrite their nuclear declaration, this time admitting to the existence of a nuclear weapons program.

The man who was single-handedly responsible for this accomplishment was David Kay.

I first “met” David Kay while serving as the UNSCOM duty officer during the September crisis, talking to him over the telephone. Later, when David arrived in New York for consultations, I watched him brief the UNSCOM staff about his exploits but was too intimidated by this legendary figure to approach him.

David Kay’s high profile proved too much for the stolid bureaucracy of the IAEA, and soon afterwards, he left the IAEA for calmer pastures in civilian life.

Meanwhile, my own profile grew as an inspector. By the summer of 1992, I was involved in my own standoff with Iraq as the team I had organized and on which I served as the operations officer was involved in a days-long standoff when Iraq denied us entry into a ministry building where its archive of WMD-related material was stored. That fall, I conceived, organized, and led a pair of inspections which helped uncover the truth about Iraq’s undeclared ballistic missile force. Later, I took the lead in investigating Iraq’s so-called concealment mechanism, used to hide information and material from the inspectors. In the execution of this mission, the teams I led were often involved in difficult standoffs with Iraqi authorities and security forces, often involving Security Council intervention similar in nature to that which David Kay triggered back in the summer of 1991.

When people accused me of being just like David Kay, I took it as a compliment of the highest order.

Following my resignation from UNSCOM, in August 1998, David’s and my paths diverged considerably. Based upon my seven years of work leading UNSCOM inspections in Iraq, I was convinced that Iraq’s WMD holdings had been largely accounted for, and that nothing of significance remained.

David, acting from the foundation of his personal experience, took a different approach, accusing Iraq of concealing its WMD from inspectors who, in his opinion, were simply not up to the task of disarming Iraq in such a contentious environment.

As the person responsible for conceiving and implementing the methodologies, technologies, and tactics used by UNSCOM to counter Iraq’s concealment efforts, I took umbrage at David Kay’s denigration of the work done by myself and my fellow inspectors, and watched in growing frustration as he was able to successfully lobby the US Congress and the mainstream media into embracing his school of thought – that Iraq retained significant quantities of WMD, and this fact represented a threat worthy of US military intervention.

Thanks in large part to the lobbying efforts of David Kay, whose credibility as a former inspector was unimpeachable, the administration of President George W. Bush was able to get the US Congress to greenlight the invasion of Iraq, which occurred in March 2003. Shortly after formal Iraqi resistance collapsed, in April, David Kay was selected to head up a CIA-run organization known as the Iraq Survey Group, or ISG, which was tasked with hunting down Iraq’s WMD programs.

While many people familiar with David Kay’s biography refer to his time as an IAEA inspector as his greatest achievement, I have another perspective. By the end of 2003, David Kay was confronted with the daunting reality that the Iraqi WMD that he was tasked with uncovering, and whose existence Kay had adamantly testified before the war as existing, in fact did not. Faced with this hard truth, David Kay resigned from his position as the head of the ISG and, in a testimony before Congress in February 2004, had the courage and integrity to admit that, when it came to the existence of Iraqi WMD, “it turns out that we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing.”

David Kay passed away on August 12, 2022. He was 82 years old.

I will forever remember him as the man who, in the fall of 1991, intimidated this battle-hardened former Marine by his presence and reputation and, despite our disagreement over the pre-war disposition of Iraqi WMDs, as a man who had the integrity to stand up and be held accountable for his mistakes.

David Kay will, to me, always represent the epitome of physical and moral courage. It is something the world could do with more in these trying times, and for which the world will be a lesser place now that he is gone.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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Russia May Be Linked to Stockholm Koran Burning – Finnish FM




29 Jan, 2023 15:48

HomeWorld News

Moscow has slammed the suggestion as “disgusting”

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has claimed that Russia may have been behind the public burning of Korans in Stockholm, Sweden last week. He added that the stunt could have been orchestrated to derail the country’s bid to join NATO.

On January 21, Rasmus Paludan, an anti-Islam activist and leader of a minor Danish far-right party, Stram Kurs (Hard Line), set the Muslim holy book on fire outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. Ankara strongly protested the action, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying on Monday that Sweden could no longer rely on T?rkiye’s support for its accession to the US-led military bloc.

On Friday, Paludan burned copies of the Koran in front of a mosque, the Turkish Embassy, and the Russian Consulate in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Speaking to Finnish TV channel Yle on Saturday, Haavisto floated the idea that Russia could be linked to the book burning. “This matter is under investigation. Various ties in the activist’s circle have been uncovered,” Haavisto said. “I cannot say with certainty … But we have been shown a concept of how to act in order to inflict maximum damage [to the NATO membership bid].”

T?rkiye puts NATO expansion on hold – media

The Russian Foreign Ministry harshly condemned the Koran burning. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Sunday that Haavisto’s suggestion that Moscow may have been responsible for the incident was “disgusting to watch.”

Finland and Sweden ditched their longstanding policies of non-alignment and jointly applied to join NATO last year, citing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

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As the Pentagon’s Favorite Think Tank Calls for a Swift End to the Ukraine Conflict, Is the Mood Shifting in Washington?




The RAND Corporation, a highly influential elite national security think tank funded directly by the Pentagon, has published a landmark report stating that prolonging the proxy war is actively harming the US and its allies and warning Washington that it should avoid “a protracted conflict” in Ukraine.

What are the US’ interests in Ukraine

The report has an unequivocal title, “Avoiding a long war: US policy and the trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” which provides a strong indication as to its contents.

It starts by stating that the fighting represents “the most significant interstate conflict in decades, and its evolution will have major consequences” for Washington, which includes US “interests” being actively harmed. The report makes it very clear that while Ukrainians have been doing the fighting, and their cities have been “flattened” and “economy decimated,” these “interests” are “not synonymous” with Kiev’s.

The US ending its financial, humanitarian and particularly military support promptly would cause Ukraine to completely collapse, and RAND cites several reasons why doing so would be sensible, not least because a Ukrainian victory is regarded as both “improbable” and “unlikely,” due to Russian “resolve,” and its military mobilization having “rectified the manpower deficit that enabled Ukraine’s success in the Kharkiv counteroffensive.”

From the perspective of US “interests,” RAND warns that while the Kremlin has not threatened to use nuclear weapons, there are “several issues that make Russian use of nuclear weapons both a plausible contingency Washington needs to account for and a hugely important factor in determining the future trajectory of the conflict.”

And what are the risks for the US

The think tank believes the Biden administration “has ample reason to make the prevention of Russian use of nuclear weapons a paramount priority.” In particular, it should seek to avoid a “direct nuclear exchange” with Moscow, a “direct conflict with Russia”, or wider “NATO-Russia war.”

On the latter point, RAND worries that US general Mark Milley’s demand that the conflict stay “inside the geographical boundaries of Ukraine” is on the verge of being disrespected, as “the extent of NATO allies’ indirect involvement in the war is breathtaking in scope,” including “tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and other aid” and “tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support,” along with “billions of dollars monthly in direct budgetary support to Kiev.”

Such largesse could, RAND forecasts, prompt Moscow to “punish NATO members…with the objective of ending allied support for Ukraine; strike NATO preemptively if Russia perceives that NATO intervention in Ukraine is imminent; interdict the transfer of arms to Ukraine; retaliate against NATO for perceived support for internal unrest in Russia,” if the Kremlin concludes the country’s national security is “severely imperiled.”

These outcomes are “by no means inevitable,” but still represent an “elevated” risk, particularly in light of incidents such as a Ukrainian air defense missile striking Polish territory in November 2022 – a situation exacerbated by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky falsely claiming it was a deliberate Russian strike. While this event “did not spiral out of control, it did demonstrate that fighting can unintentionally spill over to the territory of neighboring US allies.”

Another incident like that could mean “the US military would immediately be involved in a hot war with a country that has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.” This, as well as a conventional conflict between NATO and Russia, is a prospect Washington should avoid at all costs, RAND argues.

A clear implication is the US could lose such a conflict, one key reason being, as pointed out by RAND, “the intensity of the military assistance” being given to Ukraine by its Western backers is already approaching an “unsustainable” level, with US and European weapons stocks “running low.” This consequently means a longer war equals more Ukrainian territory reunified with Russia.

Is there a solution?

On the subject of territorial losses, RAND is unmoved by arguments Ukraine should attempt to recapture all that it has lost since 2014, as “greater territorial control is not directly correlated with greater economic prosperity” or “greater security.” Land having been retaken by Kiev since September means “Russia has imposed far greater economic costs on the country as a whole.”

RAND also considers the worth of arguments that “greater Ukrainian territorial control” should be assured “to reinforce international norms, and to foster Ukraine’s future economic growth” to be “debatable,” as even in the “unlikely” event Kiev pushes “beyond the pre-February 2022 line of control and manages to retake areas that Russia has occupied since 2014,” the risks of escalation from Moscow, including “nuclear use or an attack on NATO” will “spike.”

The Kremlin would likely treat the potential loss of Crimea as a much more significant threat both to national security and regime stability,” the report warns.

All these factors make “avoiding a long war…the highest priority after minimizing escalation risks,” so RAND recommends the US “take steps that make an end to the conflict over the medium term more likely,” including “issuing assurances regarding the country’s neutrality,” something that Moscow had requested before the conflict began, to deaf ears, as well as “sanctions relief for Russia.”

However, the report warns against a “dramatic, overnight shift in US policy,” as this would be “politically impossible – both domestically and with allies,” instead recommending the development of “instruments” to bring the war to a “negotiated end,” and “socializing them with Ukraine and with US allies” in advance to lessen the blow. This process should be started quickly though, as “the alternative is a long war that poses major challenges for the US, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.”


What this proposal ignores is that Western leaders have consistently proven they cannot be trusted to respect or adhere to treaties they have signed and brokered with Russia, such as the Minsk Accords, which former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted were never intended to be implemented, but rather to buy time for Kiev.

It may be the case then that Moscow won’t be interested in RAND’s solution at all, and choose instead to finish the war on its own terms.

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Drone Attack Will Not Affect Iran’s Nuclear Program – FM




A military facility was targeted in a strike resulting in only minor damage, Tehran has said

Iran has condemned an overnight drone attack that targeted a Defense Ministry facility in the city of Isfahan. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian insisted on Sunday that the strike will not affect the progress the country is making in developing peaceful nuclear energy.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart in Tehran, Amirabdollahian insisted that acts such as this will not have any impact on Iranian specialists’ “will and intentions” or obstruct their advances in peaceful nuclear energy.Earlier, the Iranian Defense Ministry said that a military ‘workshop’ in Isfahan was targeted in an attack that resulted in no casualties and caused only minor damage. It is unclear if the facility has anything to do with Tehran’s nuclear program.

Officials will now launch an investigation into the incident. Parliament’s Security and Foreign Policy Committee will discuss the issue with Defense Ministry officials, the committee’s spokesman, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, told Mehr News Agency.

The authorities in the province of Isfahan also launched an investigation, according to Fars News Agency, citing a local official.

The attack, which involved at least three ‘micro drones’, took place late Saturday, according to military officials. One unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down and two others “fell into defensive traps and exploded,” the Iranian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that the assault resulted in no casualties and only minor damage.

Iranian social media also reported blasts in various parts of the country at that time, including a major blaze at an oil refinery in the northwestern city of Azarshahr. On Sunday, the nation’s IRNA news agency called the reports about the explosions false.

A senior official in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, where Azarshahr is located, also told the news agency that a fire was caused by a leak in an oil pipe and had nothing to do with any other incidents. He also said the blaze was extinguished within hours and led to no casualties.

Al Arabiya reported, citing unnamed American sources, that the US Air Force and another nation were involved in the attack. The media outlet also claimed that the drone strike targeted a ballistic missile depot.

The Jerusalem Post cited Western intelligence sources as saying that the attack was “a tremendous success,” contrary to what the Iranian authorities said.

Officials in Tehran have yet to name any suspects.

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