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Israel Criticizes Intelligence Agency for False Alarm on Iraqi Weapons - 2004-03-28


An Israeli parliamentary committee has criticized the country's intelligence agencies for overestimating the dangers posed by Iraq on the eve of last year's war. At the same time, the committee says both the spy agency Mossad and the Israeli military failed to warn of efforts by Libya to build atomic weapons.

The report of the Israeli parliamentary committee leaves open the possibility that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

At the same time, the committee says that Israeli Military Intelligence focused too much on perceptions that Saddam would have used such weapons, rather than on his actual capabilities.

In the words of the report, "It could be that these weapons could yet be uncovered, but it is clear that if they are, there remains a significant gap between intelligence assessment that this weaponry existed and was ready to be fired and the subsequent reality."

The committee began its work last year after concerns emerged in both the United States and Britain that the intelligence agencies in those countries also failed to provide hard evidence that Iraq had a significant arsenal of non-conventional weapons.

On the eve of the U.S. lead invasion of Iraq, the Israeli defense establishment indicated that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, and the missiles to deliver them.

Based on this information, the Israeli Government ordered citizens to carry gas mask kits at all times, and also called up reserve soldiers for duty.

The Israeli parliamentary report also says that while most attention was focused on Iraq, the Israeli intelligence community failed to alert the government to the dangers posed by Libya.

The report says that there was a worrying failure, in particular by the Israeli spy agency Mossad, to report on Libya's efforts to acquire nuclear and other non-conventional weapons, which could have threatened Israel.

The size of those efforts was first disclosed in December when Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, agreed to dismantle his nuclear and chemical weapons programs under international supervision.

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