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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK
Rumsfeld rejects Iraq WMD doubts
By Nick Childs
BBC Pentagon correspondent

Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld still looking for the 'smoking gun'
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he believes weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq and he rejected the charge that the war against Baghdad was waged under a false pretext.

Earlier this week Mr Rumsfeld suggested that the Iraqis may have destroyed the weapons before the Iraq conflict.

His remarks seemed to echo hints by US officials behind the scenes suggesting US-led forces may not find a clear-cut "smoking gun" of Iraqi weapons.

Now though, in a US radio phone-in, he says he personally believes they will be found.

In his latest remarks he says the reason they have not been found up until now is because the government of Saddam Hussein had worked so hard to hide them.

It is not because they are not there he says - the US believed they were there.

More confusion

He also rejected the idea that the war was waged under any false pretext.

In his words, the US and British case against Iraq was based on what he called good intelligence.

Still, Mr Rumsfeld's words are likely only to sow more confusion about the issue.

And while he says US-led forces have been searching for only seven weeks, the questions about Iraq's weapons programmes are unlikely to subside until the coalition comes up with more clear-cut evidence than it has up until now.

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"Critics of the conflict are questioning whether there really was a threat"

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