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CIA Rectifying Prewar Estimates on Iraq WMD

Reuters | Feb 2 2005

The CIA is publishing a series of classified reports revising its prewar intelligence assessments of Iraq 's weapons of mass destruction, an intelligence official said on Tuesday.

A Jan. 18 report, titled "Iraq: No Large-Scale Chemical Warfare Efforts Since Early 1990s," concludes that Saddam Hussein abandoned major chemical weapons programs after the first Gulf War in 1991.

A Jan. 4 CIA report addressed Baghdad's Scud missile and delivery system, while forthcoming reports are expected to revise prewar estimates of Iraq's biological and nuclear capabilities.

The intelligence official, who asked not to be named, said the latest report was not considered a high-level document for review by President Bush .

"This matches up what the assessment was before the war and what the assessment is after the war," the official said. "It takes into account post-war information that was, by definition, not available earlier."

U.S. intelligence claims that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was attempting to acquire nuclear capability formed a main justification for the 2003 invasion.

Former CIA Director George Tenet, who resigned last July, told Bush that finding WMD in Iraq would be a "slam dunk" according to journalist Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack."

But no WMD have been found in Iraq and U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer is expected this month to issue a final addendum to his September report concluding that prewar Iraq had no such stockpiles.

"The CIA has finally admitted that its WMD estimates were wrong," Rep. Jane Harman of California, ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in a statement.

She also called on CIA officials to conduct a vigorous review of intelligence on Iran and North Korea , "where active WMD programs are known to exist."

Bush has branded prewar Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil."

The United States contends that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies the charge. But Vice President Dick Cheney, a main proponent of the Iraq war, stirred concern about possible military action against Iran recently by saying the country tops the administration list of world trouble spots.

The Bush administration is engaged in six-party talks with North Korea, which U.S. officials say could have more than eight nuclear weapons.



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