Iraq weapons report shelved.
BRITAIN and America have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a full report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction after inspectors found no evidence that any such weapons exist.
Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group, an Anglo-American team of 1,400 scientists, military and intelligence experts, to scour Iraq for the past four months to uncover evidence of chemical or biological weapons have so far ended in failure.
It had been expected that a progress report would be published tomorrow but MPs on Westminster's security and intelligence committee have been told that even this has been delayed and no new date set.
British defence intelligence sources confirmed last week that the final report, which is to be submitted by David Kay, the survey group's leader, to George Tenet, head of the CIA, had been delayed and may not necessarily even be published.
In July Kay suggested on US television that he had seen enough evidence to convince himself that Saddam Hussein had had a programme to produce weapons of mass destruction. He expected to find "strong" evidence of missile delivery systems and "probably" evidence of biological weapons.
But last week British officials said they believed Kay had been "kite-flying " and that no hard evidence had been uncovered.
The hunt for weapons is seen in London and Washington as a vital step in convincing an increasingly sceptical public that the war was justified. There have already been false alarms. One early suggestion, by Downing Street and the White House, was that an unmanned plane found by UN inspectors could have been used to spray chemical weapons. But a US air force report leaked yesterday said such drones were primarily used for reconnaissance.
[Source: By David Leppard, Sunday Times, London, UK, 14Sep03]
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