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'Iraq Has Weapons of Mass Destruction,' Asserts Senior US Officials - 2003-06-08

Senior U.S. administration officials say they are convinced there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The officials say they are stepping up efforts to find them.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told the NBC television program Meet the Press that she is confident there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"I believe we will find them," she said.

Ms. Rice said President George W. Bush relied on intelligence reports, based on multiple sources, which indicated that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking on Fox News Sunday, agreed, adding that there were many reasons to suspect Iraq. "They have used chemical weapons. They have admitted they had biological weapons, and they never accounted for all that they had, or what they might or might not have done with it. And it is the considered judgment - not only of this administration; it was the judgment of President Clinton's administration - it is the judgment of a number of nations around the world, that they had these weapons. And when we passed Resolution 1441 unanimously, it was the unanimous judgment of the Security Council that Iraq was in violation of its obligations," Mr. Powell explained.

Mr. Powell said the U.S. government will intensify its search. "We are sending in an Iraqi Survey Group of 1,300 people, who will be looking in all the places. They will be exploiting all the documents. They will be interviewing people," he said.

Also on NBC's Meet the Press, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, a member of the Armed Service Committee, warned of wider repercussions if nothing is found. "If we do not find weapons of mass destruction, I think that the credibility and reliability of our intelligence is going to be challenged in the future, and it's going to be much more difficult for us to lead the world," he said.

Senators from both parties have called for an investigation into whether or not U.S. intelligence in this case had been manipulated or exaggerated.