Skip to comments.US official says Iraqi scientists helping on arms
Posted on 04/30/2003 12:50:57 PM PDT by kattracks
US official says Iraqi scientists helping on arms
By Carol Giacomo
WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) - Captured Iraqi scientists have started cooperating with the United States, giving U.S. officials renewed confidence that there are unconventional weapons in Iraq and they will be found, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Wednesday.
"The people we have found are already leading us to other people as well as to computer files and to documents," he told the National Defense University, an elite school for America's military officers.
"With these sources of information, we can say with a high degree of confidence that we will find Iraqi unconventional
weapons," Armitage said.
But he said the task could take months because the Iraqi regime had a more "well-developed and sophisticated strategy" for hiding the weapons than initially believed.
U.S. President George W. Bush, in undertaking the invasion of Iraq, argued that Saddam Hussein's government posed a security threat because it had significant stocks of chemical and biological agents, and also was pursuing nuclear arms, all of which could be made available to terrorist groups.
But more than a month after U.S. forces entered the country, Iraq's alleged 500 tons of chemical warfare agents and tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and botulism toxins have not shown up, creating a growing political problem for the U.S. president.
An estimated 3,000 scientists, engineers and technicians were part of Iraq's weapons program.
In recent weeks, U.S.-led forces captured Amer Hammoudi Al-Saadi, Saddam's top scientific adviser; Jaffar al-Jaffer, a British-educated physicist dubbed "the father of Iraq's nuclear weapons program"; Emad Ani, a top chemical scientist, as well as senior Iraqi government figures.
UNIFIED INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENT
Armitage said he was "extraordinarily confident" that Iraq had the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration used to make its case for war. "Rarely have the intelligence agencies of this country and our allies been so unified on any subject," he said.
While acknowledging that many think "because we've found so little so far, there is nothing to find," Armitage suggested what he called a more frightening reality: that the regime engaged in a skillful effort to move and conceal them.
He said evidence of Iraq's weapons programs was probably dispersed across hundreds, possibly thousands, of sites and will take months to uncover.
Some of the Iraqis interviewed by U.S. experts have been helpful but it may take more time for others to feel safe enough to do likewise, he said.
Before the recent arrests, U.S. officials had become discouraged about finding actual weapons and production facilities, which would provide proof of Saddam's intentions and legitimize for many people the U.S. need to invade Iraq.
One problem was that Saddam may have had stocks destroyed before the U.S.-led invasion, as at least one Iraqi scientist reportedly said.
04/30/03 13:05 ET
I don't remember reading about any "officials" becoming discouraged. On the contrary, regardless of what the lamestream media wants us to believe, they have always claimed there are WMD, but it would take time to find them.