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Iraq: US, British Rushing to Judgment On Weapons Report - 2002-12-22

A top Iraqi official is accusing American and British officials of rushing to judgment about Iraq's recently submitted weapons report, and says Iraq will answer any questions they have.

A top scientific adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Sunday British and American allegations that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction are based on old, rehashed reports from the previous, "discredited" arms inspection program in the 1990s.

General Amir al-Saadi was referring to a dossier published several weeks ago by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a subsequent report by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. General al-Saadi said they were "long on allegations and short on evidence." He called the reports a "hodge-podge of half-truths, naďve, short-sighted allegations and lies."

He said more than 20 days of inspections covering most of the sites named in those reports, along with Iraq's weapons declaration submitted December 7, had exposed the allegations as "lies."

General al-Saadi, speaking during a news conference in Baghdad, said Iraq is ready to answer any questions raised by the United States and Britain, and would allow the CIA to come to Iraq to identify suspect sites for the weapons inspectors.

On Sunday, weapons inspectors investigated a facility dedicated to space research, a missile complex, a plant that makes chemical detergents, biological and military facilities and a company that produces mineral water.

So far, weapons inspectors have said they have found no banned weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. officials have been quoted as saying they are sharing intelligence information, including satellite photographs, with the inspection teams regarding the location of suspected weapons sites.

U.N. officials have been urging the United States and Britain to supply all information they have. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix says both countries have given briefings on what kinds of weapons they think Iraq has, but said the weapons inspectors need information leading to specific locations.