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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 November, 2003, 20:24 GMT
The weapons hunter speaks
Dr David Kay
Dr Kay says his team has already achieved results

The man in charge of finding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has given his first extensive interviews to the British media since he started combing Iraq for weapons.

Dr David Kay, who heads up the 1,400 strong Iraq Survey Group, has allowed BBC Panorama's cameras exclusive access to his team and has given the programme two in-depth interviews in July and October.

In June 2003, two months after the war had ended, the ISG started its systematic search for weapons of mass destruction, the basis for war with Iraq.

Speaking in July, soon after he'd taken the job, Dr Kay, a former UN weapons inspector, said that the "entire credibility" of US and British foreign policy and intelligence had been called into question by the failure to find WMDs immediately.

However he was optimistic that his team's work would ultimately be successful in finding weapons of mass destruction programmes.

UN breaches

A very important source to us on the biological programme took six bullets into his body
Dr David Kay

The ISG have been analysing tons of Iraqi documents and talking to scientists in their search for evidence of weapons, or weapons programmes.

He added: "I can say we've found enough evidence to convince me that we will be successful."

He said their work had already achieved results, with the discovery of evidence of plans for longer range missiles prohibited under UN sanctions.

Another success the ISG points to is the discovery of a dual-use fermentor.

The equipment, which they found while searching the al-Tuweitha agricultural centre near Baghdad, could be used for making bio warfare germs. However, testing hasn't shown that it has been used for that purpose.

No evidence

Dr David Kay
Dr David Kay talks to Panorama's Jane Corbin

The ISG says the failure by Iraq to declare the fermentor to weapons inspectors before the war constitutes a breach of UN resolution 1441.

And since the ISG started its search for WMD there has been a change in language, with less emphasis now on talk of actual weapons of mass destruction, more on weapons programmes.

Speaking to Panorama last month, Dr Kay conceded they had found no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"Having said that," he added, "and I know that sounds like a struggling statement, you know how large this country is."

The ISG also believes that there was no evidence that Iraq had an active nuclear programme before the war, and Dr Kay acknowledges on Panorama that despite what he calls signs of "new interest" in a centrifuge programme it was a not a "vigorous ongoing programme".

Before the war Dr Kay had been among the experts who believed that aluminium tubes which Iraq was secretly trying to import were for centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.


Standing guard as the ISG searches a warehouse

On Panorama he now describes intelligence about the tubes as "straws of evidence".

He also claimed that widespread looting in April and May had made their search much harder.

Another problem facing the team from Camp Slayer is that Iraqi scientists are fearful and reluctant to talk - especially after one was killed for speaking to the ISG.

Mr Kay said: "Someone came up to him in front of his house, put a gun to his head and blew his brains out.

"Another source, a very important source to us on the biological programme took six bullets into his body and it's only by the grace of God that he's still alive."

The ISG continues its search for weapons of mass destruction and Dr Kay's next report is due in January 2004.

Dr Kay - who said Saddam Hussein had WMD before the war, now says he is prepared to be proved wrong - if it turns that there are none. "If that is the truth so be it".

Panorama: Still Chasing Saddam's Weapons was broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 23 November, 2003 at 2215 GMT.

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