New York Times: Iraq Rebuilt Weapons Factories
Iraq has rebuilt a number of factories the United States has long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons, a report by The New York Times said Monday.
Citing senior US officials, the paper said that the alleged report would put at trial US President George W. Bush’s statement at the inauguration ceremony two days ago in which the new leader vowed to "confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors."
Bush did not mention Iraq by name, but a hardline policy against the sanctions-hit country is expected from Bush administration, whose pillars engineered the 1991 war and embargo against the Arab country.
The newspaper said the factories — in an industrial complex in Falluja, west of Baghdad — include two that were bombed and badly damaged by American and British air raids in December 1998 to punish President Saddam Hussein for his refusal to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors, the government officials said.
Since air strikes in December of 1998, Iraq has refused to let weapons inspectors into the country. Officials told the paper that without the inspections, the United States do not yet have firm evidence the factories are now producing chemical or biological agents.
The paper referred to a report on weapons threats released on Jan. 10 by the outgoing secretary of defense, William S. Cohen. It warned that Iraq had rebuilt at least its weapons infrastructure and may have begun covertly producing some chemical or biological agents.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz admitted at a press conference on the 10th anniversary of the Gulf War that Iraq had possessed chemical weapons and a limited amount of biological weapons, but stressed that his country was clean of mass destruction weapons.
But a senior military officer who closely follows Iraq and its president, was quoted by New York Times as saying that the US does not know for sure what is going on, “but given his [President Saddam’s] past known behavior, there's probably a pretty fair chance that's what's happening." – Albawaba.com
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