For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
White House
September 22, 2003

Dr. Rice Briefing on President's Visit to UN General Assembly

September 22, 2003

[excerpts on Iraqi WMD]


Q: Is the President's credibility undercut in any way by the fact that the weapons of mass destruction have not been disclosed in Iraq? How will he address that in his speech tomorrow? And do you remain confident those weapons will be found, or do you think they've somehow been spirited away, or that --

DR. RICE: Well, let me first say that David Kay has an orderly process for mining the miles of documentation, the hundreds, even thousands of interviews, that need to be done, the physical evidence that needs to be gathered to understand precisely the status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the status of the programs, what became of unaccounted for weapons stockpiles.

If you remember the U.N. reports were about large numbers of unaccounted-for stockpiles. We'll now be able to find out what became of them. But let me be very clear, what we find there will establish precisely what was going on with Iraq's programs. What we went in with a view toward was a view that was shared by intelligence agencies around the world, by three American administrations, and by the United Nations. There was nobody who knew anything about Iraq who believed that Saddam Hussein had destroyed all of his weapons of mass destruction, that he simply didn't have any. And it was just kind of a joke on the world that he wouldn't say that he had destroyed his weapons of mass destruction.

This was a dangerous regime that had used weapons of mass destruction, that was still pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and that had large unaccounted for stockpiles. That is a position that was credible at the time. It is a position that is credible now. And now we're able to do what the U.N. inspectors had hoped to be able to do under Resolution 1441, were actually never permitted to do because Saddam Hussein was still in power and intimidating people and keeping people from telling the truth. So the President will simply note that we have an effort underway to hunt this down. And, yes, I think we will we find that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction can be accounted for, and we'll know the truth.

Q: When will Kay's report will be public?

DR. RICE: David Kay is not going to be done with this for quite some time. And I would not count on reports. I suppose there may be interim reports. I don't know when those will be, and I don't know what the public nature of them will be.