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US Official Dismisses Baghdad Assertion Iraq Has No Weapons of Mass Destruction - 2002-11-14

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has brushed aside Iraq's denials that it has weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Rumsfeld says there is no doubt that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, no matter what its officials may be saying.

"Rather than reacting to any statements that may or may not have been made by any of these folks, I will just simply say they do have weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld tells reporters the purpose of the latest U.N. Security Council resolution is to get international inspectors into Iraq to make their own conclusions about Baghdad's weapons programs.

Mr. Rumsfeld made the comment during a brief appearance with Kazakhstan's visiting Defense Minister.

During that appearance, the Defense Secretary was also asked for his opinion about whether al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is dead or alive. Mr. Rumsfeld made light of the question by saying, "the answer to the question 'is he alive or dead,' the answer is 'yes', he is alive or dead."

The terrorist leader vanished from sight late last year, following the U.S. bombing campaign against al-Qaida targets in Afghanistan.

But an audiotape surfaced this past week, purportedly from Osama bin Laden, praising recent terrorist attacks and warning of new ones in the future.

Intelligence sources say the voice on the tape sounds like the al-Qaida leader's, but are investigating.