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American WMD hunters returning
home from Iraq frustrated
May 11, 2003 20:49 IST
A United States team, tasked to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is returning home after being unable to find any, a media report said on Sunday.
US Army Colonel Richard McPhee, who headed the Expert Task Force, said it would be closed down in June, the Washington Post reported.
Alleged possession of WMDs by the ousted Saddam Hussein regime was the pretext on which the US invaded Iraq.
McPhee said he took US intelligence warnings on the eve of the war seriously that Saddam Hussein had given 'release authority' to subordinates in command of chemical weapons.
"We did not have all these people in protective suits for nothing."
"But if Iraq thought of using such weapons, they had to have something to use. And we haven't found it. Books will be written on that in the intelligence community for a long time," he said.
Army Colonel Robert Smith, who heads the site assessment team from the Defence Threat Reduction Agency, said the task force leaders 'no longer think we are going to find chemical rounds sitting next to a gun'.
However, it is still being argued by many officials that WMDs do exist in Iraq but Saddam Hussein had cleverly managed to hide them so well that the Americans cannot find it.
They hope to find them 'one day' if one of Hussein's former associates talks voluntarily, the paper said.