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Iraq Concealing Chemical, Biological Weapons Programs, says Pentagon - 2002-10-08

The Pentagon says Iraq is actively making chemical and biological weapons and trying to conceal its efforts from the world.

Authorities in Baghdad are taking steps to conceal and disperse sensitive equipment and documents in anticipation of new United Nations weapons inspections, according to the Pentagon's top intelligence expert on Iraqi disinformation efforts. But John Yurechko, Defense Intelligence Officer for Information Operations, told reporters that U.S. officials will not be fooled by what he calls Iraq's "denial and deception" effort.

"We will not be intimidated or fooled," he said. "We shall find our way through any forest of deceit and fiction to the truth."

During an extensive Pentagon briefing that included several surveillance photographs, Mr. Yurechko outlined an elaborate Iraqi concealment operation, employing tactics ranging from camouflaging facilities to burying them underground or placing them in trucks.

He says other deception methods include issuing false cover stories, making false declarations and staging phony activities including controlled tours of alleged weapons of mass destruction sites.

The Defense intelligence official says the effort is intended to do more than simply confuse an enemy military commander on the battlefield.

"Denial and deception - or D&D, as you'll hear me refer to it - is a deliberate, methodical, extensive and well-organized national-level strategic effort which is aimed not only at deceiving the United States, the United Nations or the public media, but the entire world," explained Mr. Yurechko.

Mr. Yurechko says Iraq's skill in implementing its concealment program has been honed in the years since the 1991 Gulf War. He calls the Iraqis "fairly accomplished masters" who are well-advanced at deception techniques.

The defense official declined to share any detailed current intelligence on the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program or parallel concealment efforts.

But a briefing document issued by the Pentagon says in general that Iraq has begun renewed production of chemical weapons agents and describes its biological weapons program as active. The document also says Iraq continues to develop its nuclear program and that it maintains a small missile force.

Iraq denies it has any weapons of mass destruction.