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Kay to leave Iraq weapons survey team

WASHINGTON -- The head of the US effort to find weapons of mass destruction, David Kay, has told administration officials that he plans to leave before the Iraq Survey Group's work is completed and could depart before February, US military and intelligence officials said.

 

The move comes as more of Kay's staff has been diverted from the weapons hunt to help search for Iraqi insurgents and at a time when expectations remain low that weaponry will be discovered.

Kay requested the change for personal and family reasons, officials said. When he accepted the job in June, they said, he expected to quickly find the expansive evidence that the administration had claimed as its primary reason for going to war. Rather, Kay's preliminary report in October said the group had so far discovered only that Iraq was working to acquire chemical and biological weapons, had missile programs under various stages of development, and possessed only a rudimentary nuclear program.

Two officials confirmed that Kay plans to leave early and said the question remaining is how soon. Kay could not be reached.

"Kay is thinking of leaving before a final report and perhaps before the next interim report," which is due in February, a senior administration official said.

US government officials said Kay's departure would have little practical impact on the day-to-day work of 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group. His departure may foster an impression, incorrect in the Bush administration's view, that the search is effectively over.

Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein after his capture by US forces. (Reuters Photo)
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