Saddam did have WMD plans says inspector
SADDAM Hussein had the ability to unleash biological and chemical weapons "at short notice" on foreign nations, according to a potentially explosive new report by inspectors.
The leaked document, written by Charles Duelfer, the new director of the Iraq Survey group, concludes that hard evidence does exist that Saddam had the ability to wreak terror with the weaponry.
Furthermore, there was evidence that he was plotting to expand his facilities last year, prior to the invasion of British and American troops.
The report will be seized on gratefully by London and Washington as they continue to fight the case for war. One Foreign Office official described it last night as "hopeful".
But critics of the war immediately hit back, claiming that Duelfer, a CIA special adviser, was simply offering the US and UK what they wanted to hear.
His report follows another desperate week for the occupying forces in Iraq, after the brutal lynching of American contractors in Fallujah.
Security firms are now desperately recruiting ex-military personnel to try to protect workers. They include Clive Fairweather, the former deputy commander of the SAS and Chief Inspector of Scottish prisons, who revealed last night that he had been offered a ‘substantial’ sum in return for a short-term contract advising on security. He turned it down.
Duelfer’s report provides what he calls "new information" on Saddam’s military build-up. "Iraq did have facilities suitable for the production of biological and chemical agents needed for weapons. It had plans to improve and expand and even build new facilities," he says in the report, seen by Scotland on Sunday.
Duelfer says he has fresh evidence that long-range ballistic missiles were being tested. He also reveals evidence from a research centre in Iraq where scientists were found to have been apparently testing commercial biopesticide, which can be used as anthrax.
The report is Duelfer’s first since his appointment in February when he took over from David Kay - who quit saying he did not believe there were any large stockpiles of weapons.
Last night his findings were questioned by critics of the war, who claimed he had moved the goalposts in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction since taking over the job - shifting from the search for hard evidence, to signs of "intent".
They also demanded that the factual basis for Duelfer’s five-page report be revealed.
Democrat senator Carl Levin - the party’s most senior defence spokesman - has now challenged the CIA, which controls the survey group, to declassify the entire report.
"Mr Duelfer’s statement is written to express the author’s ‘suspicions’ as to Iraq’s activities relating to possible weapons of mass destruction programmes or activities while leaving out information in the classified report which points away from his suspicions," he said.
In the report, which has been sent to the US Congress, Duelfer admits that the task of the ISG team is made difficult by the reluctance of former government officials to explain their role in developing weaponry.
"There is a fear former regime supporters would exact retribution," Duelfer reports. Nevertheless, the group continued to receive "intriguing" reportsabout concealed caches.
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