A CIA adviser overseeing the hunt for alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq said Thursday "solid progress" was being made in the search.
"We are making solid progress," David Kay told reporters after a closed-door briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee. "The American people should not be surprised by surprises."
Kay said Iraqi scientists involved in the weapons programs are collaborating and freshly unearthed documents from Saddam Hussein's regime has led the searchers to new, previously unknown sites inIraq.
The former chief weapons inspector for the United Nations said new evidence has been uncovered about how the Iraqis misled UN inspectors. "We have people who participated in deceiving UN inspectors now telling us how they did it."
But Kay said it would take time for actual banned weapons to befound. "This was a program over 25 years, involving billions of dollars, tens of thousands of people," he said.
Kay was sent by the CIA to Iraq to help develop a strategy for finding the alleged weapons of mass destruction, the main argumentthe Bush administration used for launching the war in March. No such weapons have been found since.
Major General Keith Dayton, head of the Pentagon search team, told the Senate committee that he is "much more optimistic and confident every week" that the banned weapons would be found.
Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed the remarks of Kay. "I wouldnot be surprised if there is a surprise that would end up changinga lot of people's minds," he said.