[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
Spanish
Brasil
Caribbean
Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
'No surprise' Iraq WMD not found
US soldier at suspected weapons site
Evidence of weapons programmes was discovered
There has been mixed reaction to a US-led interim report into the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that says none have yet been found.

Hans Blix - the man who headed the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq before the war - says CIA official David Kay's report contained "no surprises".

The vice-president of the Senate Intelligence Committee - Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat - said America's armed forces had been put at risk, based on a threat that appeared not to have existed.

But UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has defended the report, saying its contents justified the removal of the Iraqi leader.

The interim report does say significant amounts of equipment and weapons-related activities have been discovered, all of which were concealed from UN inspectors.

IRAQ SURVEY GROUP
Set up in May
Kay appointed by CIA director George Tenet
1,200 experts from the US, Britain and Australia
Headquarters in Washington, offices in Baghdad and Qatar
Reported cost: $300m so far, another $600m needed

Mr Kay, who heads the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said it was too early to reach definitive conclusions and much work remains to be done.

But Mr Blix told the BBC that America still had not come up with any evidence that Iraq had posed a great enough threat to justify war.

"I don't think there are any surprises. The most important point is that they confirm that they have not found any stocks of weapons of mass destruction of any kind," he said.

"They found minor proscribed items and debris - and so did we - and I think they confirmed also that there were research and development activities that were proscribed, which should have been declared."

"There is one point that [David Kay] makes - that if the armed attack had not occurred in the spring, then these things could have proceeded and developed into something bigger.

You just don't make decisions like we do and put our nation's youth at risk based upon something that appears not to have existed
Senator Jay Rockefeller

"I think one should have some caution there, because the Security Council had never intended to abandon the long-term monitoring, so the Iraqis would not have been left alone to proceed with whatever they had started."

Senator Rockefeller said: "You just don't make decisions like we do and put our nation's youth at risk based upon something that appears not to have existed."

There has been no official reaction from the US Government to the report.

But the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, Porter Goss, said the decision to go to war had been made because of the bad things Saddam Hussein had been doing.

Secret labs

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says that while the report contains no smoking gun, its information, if correct, suggests that Iraq had embarked upon a systematic effort to keep its weapons programme going.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Saddam has proven to be the master of hiding things including himself
Margaret, USA

Mr Kay it was too early to say whether WMDs "do not exist or that they existed before the war".

Much evidence about Iraq's banned weapons programmes which once existed had been "irretrievably lost", he said.

The ISG, however, found significant evidence of continuing Iraqi weapons research and development.

Teams found clandestine laboratories and found live botulinum toxin - which could be used to make biological weapons - at an Iraqi scientist's home, the report said.

Plans were discovered for missiles capable of flying up to 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) - well beyond the 150-km range limit set by the United Nations, it added.

There were also alleged contacts with North Korea to obtain missile technology.

Mr Kay said additional information was beginning to corroborate reports of human testing activities using chemical and biological substances.

He told reporters that investigators had found evidence to suggest Saddam Hussein was trying to revive a nuclear weapons programme "at the most rudimentary level".

'Concealment'

In Australia, Prime Minister John Howard said he had no regrets over his country's role in the US-led war on Iraq.

Mr Howard on Friday stressed the interim nature of the report, which he said "has already demonstrated a great deal of concealment by the former [Iraqi] regime and a clear intention to develop weapons programmes".

The ISG search is reported to have cost $300m so far, and the Bush administration is seeking an additional $600m for further searches, according to US officials quoted on Thursday in the New York Times newspaper.

The $600m are part of an $87bn funding package being requested by President George W Bush to Congress for spending on Iraq and Afghanistan.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Stephen Cviic
"The politicians who launched the war remain unrepentant"


Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix
"Perhaps they didn't mind the world suspecting they had these weapons"




PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific