WAR.WIRE
Iraq may have been bluffing about weapons to deter invasion: report
WASHINGTON (AFP) Oct 01, 2003
Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have been bluffing about having weapons of mass destruction to deter the US-led invasion, The Washington Post said Tuesday.

The possibility Saddam may have deliberately lied is one of the elements of former weapons inspector David Kay's testimony Thursday before the US Congress on his investigation into Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction program, sources familiar with his planned testimony told the newspaper.

Kay, who is leading the US effort to account for Iraq's suspected nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, is expected soon to issue the "first progress report" on the investigation, which so far has turned up no evidence of such weapons.

Shortly before the Iraq war was launched in March, US intelligence said Saddam had authorized his field commanders to use chemical weapons to repel the invasion.

"The idea of deployment and the authority to launch was very solid. But it's now being looked at as possibly misinformation or that they were playing with us," David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who has been in contact with Iraqi scientists, told the Post.

When he appears before the House and Senate intelligence committees, Kay is expected to say that Saddam never abandoned the ability to develop chemical and biological weapons, and planned to make them once UN sanctions were lifted.

After UN inspectors were pulled out of Iraq in 1998, Saddam bought commercial equipment that could also be used to develop weapons of mass destruction, US officials familiar with Kay's upcoming testimony told the daily.

Kay's investigation has also determined that Saddam was extending the range of his missiles and developing fuels to power them, the newspaper said.

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