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2003-05-13

U.S. Sends Chief Weapons Search Team Home From Iraq Empty-handed

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Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, just back from Iraq, discusses the failure of the U.S. to uncover evidence of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in Iraq.

During the war, British journalist Geoff Meade asked an indignant Pentagon official if this war was going to make history "by being the first to end before its cause could be found."

Well, Meade?s premonition appears to be coming true. The group directing the U.S. search for weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq is leaving the country without finding proof that Saddam Hussein possessed chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

In Sunday?s Washington Post, Barton Gellman wrote that Survey teams have combed laboratories and munitions plants, bunkers and distilleries, bakeries, file cabinets and holes in the ground to no avail.

The article also said that the frustrated 75th Exploitation Task Force, which was in charge of the weapons search, "consistently found targets identified by Washington to be inaccurate, looted and burned"

Meanwhile doctors in Iraq fear that hundreds of Iraqis may be suffering from radiation poisoning, following the widespread looting of the country’s nuclear facilities.

Many residents in villages close to the huge Tuwaitha Nuclear Facility, about seven miles south of Baghdad, were showing signs of radiation illness last week, including rashes, acute vomiting and severe nosebleeds.

Alarmed by the reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency last week sent a letter to reiterate earlier demands that the US grant the agency access to Iraq’s nuclear sites, but so far there has been no response.

Well we?re joined by the Washington Post?s New York Bureau chief, Barton Gellman. His article "Weapon Hunters Come Up Empty-handed" appeared yesterday in the Washington Post. He also reported on the looting of seven nuclear sites in Iraq which appeared in the Post this weekend. He has just returned from Iraq. *

  • Barton Gellman, New York Bureau Chief, Washington Post. He has just returned from Baghdad.

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