Kay: Saddam sent 'convoys'
to Syria in months before war

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

AMMAN The head of the U.S. team investigating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction said the Saddam regime sent convoys of Iraqi equipment to Syria in the months prior to the U.S.-led war in Iraq in March.

David Kay, the head of the U.S. team, said his inspectors have not been able to determine the contents of the convoys.

"The difficulty we have is proving what was in the convoys," Kay said in a television interview on Sunday.

Kay also said his group has learned from Iraqi nationals that the Saddam regime prepared fuel for Scud missiles during 2002. He said this activity indicated that Iraq's military retained Scud missiles banned by the United Nations.

"Scud missile fuel is only useful in Scud missiles," Kay said. "No other class of missiles that Iraq has. And yet, Iraq declared that it got rid of all its scud missiles in the early 1990s. Why would you continue to produce Scud missile fuel if you didn't have Scuds?"

As for the convoys, Kay said "the equipment that we're after and the information we have relates to things that were clearly illegal to sell to Iraq. This is illegal procurement; it's not something that could have other uses. They shouldn't have had it."

Meanwhile, Iraq and Syria have launched discussions on a security cooperation accord.

Officials said the two countries have focused on border security in an attempt to stop Islamic insurgents from entering Iraq. The United States has said many of the fighters who have joined the Sunni insurgency against the coalition in Iraq have come from Syria.

The talks began last week during the visit to Damascus by an Iraqi security delegation. The delegation, led by Iraqi Interior Minister Nuri Badran, discussed security cooperation with Syrian officials.

Iraqi officials said Syria has agreed to enter an agreement on border security with Baghdad. But they said the agreement could require several visits to complete and approve the draft accord.

Iraqi Governing Council President Iyad Alawi said he hoped the agreement with Syria would be concluded during the next visit by Badran to Damascus. Alawi said Iraq's security problems were directly related to border security.

Officials said Iraq plans to offer Syria significant incentives for the sealing of the border to Islamic insurgents. They said the regime of President Bashar Assad wants to continue energy projects begun under the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein, including the construction of a new oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Latakia.

In Washington, the House International Relations Committee votes on Wednesday on the Syrian Accountability Act, which imposes a virtual trade embargo on Damascus unless it ends the harboring of groups deemed as terrorists, weapons of mass destruction programs and withdraws all troops from Lebanon. Congressional sources said the vote was scheduled after the Bush administration relayed its intention not to oppose the legislation. The bill has 274 cosponsors in the House.

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