Search for Iraqi WMD 'has been exhausted', says report

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The Independent US

The claim that Saddam Hussein may have shipped an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction to Syria just weeks before the American-led invasion has been dismissed in a final CIA report that said the search had "been exhausted" without result.

The claim that Saddam Hussein may have shipped an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction to Syria just weeks before the American-led invasion has been dismissed in a final CIA report that said the search had "been exhausted" without result.

In an addendum to the report he issued last autumn, Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), wrote: "The WMD investigation has gone as far as [is] feasible. After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted."

He added: "It was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place. However, ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials."

Mr Duelfer said there had been a pool of weapons experts in Iraq, many of whom would be seeking work elsewhere. While most would probably turn to the "benign civil sector", the danger remained that "hostile foreign governments, terrorists or insurgents may seek Iraqi expertise".

He also said troops in Iraq may continue to find small numbers of degraded chemical weapons, most likely remnants from before 1991. In the hands of an insurgent "the use of a single even ineffectual chemical weapon would likely cause more terror than deadlier conventional explosives".

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