Pentagon embarrased: Where is Iraq WMD? Maybe in Syria, maybe destroyed...
The Bush administration, which provided "graphic details", complete with satellite images, of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) last February to UN Security Council, is embarrased -- despite extensive search no barrels of nerve agent and buried or "mobile" bioweapons labs are surfacing.
"The White House is screaming, 'Find me some WMD,'" a US State Department official was quoted by Time magazine as saying.
For months before the war started, US officials claimed that Saddam Hussein's arsenal of biological and chemical weapons was so dangerous that destroying it was worth a war. Time reported that in private the pressure is rising.
The Pentagon dispatched an entire brigade - 3,000 troops - to the search and offered 200,000 dollar bounties for any WMD uncovered. Local officers were authorized to make payments of 2,500 dollars on the spot.
A senior Pentagon official was quoted as saying that US forces have been to several "promising" sites in southern Iraq and have come up empty.
"It's there, but it's well hidden," another Pentagon official insists. "It will take time to discover and verify because they took time and effort to hide it." But Time said some officials now question whether huge stockpiles will ever be found: it's easy to hide a liter of anthrax, but not the factory-size facility needed to produce it.
Joseph Cirincione, chief of the Non-Proliferation Project at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said the failure to find weapons so far means either "there aren't as many weapons as the President said - a huge blow to US credibility" - or the weapons have fallen into wrong hands.
Senior Iraqi detainees, Time reported, were not likely to talk for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes.
Meanwhile, The New York Times in its Monday edition provided an "explanation" why US troops haven't found any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq.
The newspaper reported on its Web site that an Iraqi scientist told a US military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began.
The scientist claimed to have worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program for more than a decade.
The Times wrote the scientist has led the Americans to material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed to have buried as evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs.
The scientist also said Iraq had secretly sent unconventional weapons and technology to Syria, starting in the mid-1990s. The US military team said the scientist is credible and that this could be a "major discovery," the report said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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