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CIA Report Draws No Conclusions on Iraqi Possession of Banned Weapons - 2003-09-25


CIA officials say an interim report being prepared by the chief American weapons inspector in Iraq will contain no firm conclusions about whether Baghdad possessed weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S.-led war in March. The Bush administration cited the threat posed by Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction as the main reason for going to war.

The chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, and a team of experts have been searching since shortly after the end of major combat in May for evidence of banned weapons, interviewing scientists and searching through warehouses.

The CIA says an interim report being prepared for Director George Tenet has not come to any definitive conclusions about whether Iraq had such weapons in the run-up to the war.

But agency spokesman Tom Crispel emphasizes this report is in no way the last word on Iraq's suspected weapons programs, and that it would be premature to say what will be contained in the final report.

Iraq has used chemical weapons in the past and the Bush administration continues to insist it did have programs for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and failed to destroy them as it agreed to do at the end of the first Gulf War in 1991.

Vice President Dick Cheney has repeatedly defended U.S. intelligence on the matter and the decision to go to war in Iraq. He did so again, in a recent appearance on the NBC television program, "Meet the Press".

"The whole notion that somehow there's nothing to the notion that Saddam Hussein had WMD or developed WMD strikes me as fallacious, it's not valid," he said.

But not everyone is convinced. Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association is skeptical that evidence of weapons programs will be found.

"We, along with an increasing number of others, believe the administration made its case for going to war by misrepresenting intelligence findings, as well as citing discredited intelligence information," he said.

Still, Bush administration officials say they believe evidence of Iraq's banned weapons programs will be found in time, and U.S. teams remain in the country searching for them.

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