25
Sep
03

Zounds! – WMD search draws a blank

ThisisLondon: “Tony Blair was today plunged deep into fresh trouble – and a fresh threat – after reports that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has drawn a blank.
The news comes only three days ahead of a Labour conference already poised for mutiny.
It guarantees a new outcry from critics of the Iraq war, headed by former Cabinet ministers Robin Cook and Clare Short. And it increases the chances of a humiliating conference defeat for the Prime Minister at the hands of his own party. Word of the failure – heavily damaging for the Government’s case for going to war – came from sources in the Bush administration. They said that the Iraq Survey Group, which has been hunting for chemical and biological weaponry for the past five months, had not only failed to find a “smoking gun” but it had also been unable to uncover conclusive evidence of active manufacture.

Mr Blair has repeatedly urged the sceptics to wait for the verdict of the ISG. But the leaked draft of the interim report due to be published next month gives him little comfort.

The document is said to have found evidence of “deception” by Saddam Hussein over his plans to develop weapons of mass destruction programmes. But it has not found any laboratories or delivery systems, let alone any hardware.

The hunt has involved more than 1,000 survey group staff, including former UN weapons inspectors. “

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