President George W. Bush's administration is in denial over the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the US-led invasion in 2003, ex-chief US arms inspector David Kay said.
A report by the Iraq Survey Group that Kay ran until he quit at the start of the year found Iraq had no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons when Bush was saying that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a growing threat.
Right now we have a lot of people who are desperate to justify the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq.
Ex-chief US arms inspector David Kay
The White House has insisted Saddam was a threat to the United States and had weapons of mass destruction capability, but Kay told NBC television: "All I can say is 'denial' is not just a river in Egypt."
"The report is scary enough without misrepresenting what it says," he added.
Iraq "was not an imminent and growing threat because of its own weapons of mass destruction," he added.
Bush said Wednesday there was a risk that Iraq could have transferred weapons to terrorist groups.
But Kay told CNN television "Right now we have a lot of people who are desperate to justify the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq.
"They will focus on issues such as intent. You will also hear that although we haven't found the weapons or manufacturing capability, they could have been shipped across the border. You can't ship that which you haven't produced. You can't bury that which you haven't obtained or produced."
"Look, Saddam was delusional. He had a lot of intent. He wanted to be Saladin the Great, of the Middle East yet again. He wanted to put Iraq in a preeminent position to remove the US from the region," Kay added.
"He had a lot of intent. He didn't have capabilities. Intent without capabilities is not an imminent threat."
"There is the issue that remains as to whether the scientists and engineers living in the chaotic, corrupt situation in Iraq might have transferred individually technology to terrorists," he said.
But "that was not the case the administration made."
Saddam gave some information to US interrogators which was used for the report, but Kay said "it's not very credible without further collaboration."
Kay said there was less chance that assessments of Iran's and North Korea's weapons programmes were wrong.
"We in fact have international action and international inspectors confirming the major details of both the Iranian and the North Korean capability.
"In the case of North Korea, we have them practically bragging about it."
Kay said the United States would now face a credibility problem because of the Iraq episode.
"The point is not whether we are wrong, but whether anyone will believe us. And indeed, that is the burden we are going to carry forward because of the intelligence failure of Iraq," he said calling for major intelligence reform.
"No one will believe us as long as we haven't changed the system."
© 2004 Copyright AFP