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Iraq: U.S. Intelligence On Weapons Questioned

Washington, 6 June 2003 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. Defense Department's intelligence service is said to have reported last September that it had no reliable evidence that Iraq had chemical agents in weaponized form. News reports say that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) concluded last fall it could find no reliable information to indicate that Iraq had any chemical weapons available for use on the battlefield. But the agency also said Iraq probably had stockpiles of banned chemical-warfare agents.

The existence of the DIA report was reported by the weekly magazine "U.S. News & World Report," and a summary was reported by Bloomberg News. Two Pentagon officials who had read the summary confirmed to U.S. news agencies that it said the DIA had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons.

The time frame is notable because it coincided with U.S. administration efforts to mount a public case for the urgency of disarming Iraq, by force if necessary. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others argued that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, biological, and other weapons and was hiding them.

Two months after major fighting in Iraq ended, U.S. officials have yet to find any chemical or other weapons of mass destruction, although they still express confidence that some will turn up.