US hunt for Iraq's banned weapons over: White House

The US search for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was over, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday.

The Iraq Survey Group (ISG ), consisting of some 1,200 military and intelligence specialists and support staff, spent nearly two years in Iraq searching for the banned weapons that the Bush administration cited to justify the Iraq war, but failed to find any of such weapons.

There was on longer an active search for weapons and the administration did not hold out hopes that any weapons would be found, he said.

"I think that others have already addressed...that their physical search has essentially ended," he said.

McClellan said there was still some wrap-up work and the ISG continued to operate in Iraq under the multinational force command.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democratic from California, said President George W. Bush should explain what happened. "Now that the search is finished, President Bush needs to explain to the American people why he was so wrong, for so long, about the reasons for war," she said.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the ISG, established to search for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq, folded up the effort shortly after Christmas last month because of violence in the Middle Eastern country and lack of new information.

Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to the Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, and the findings would stand as the ISG's final conclusion and would be published this spring, the report quoted a senior intelligence official as saying.

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top administration officials asserted before the March 2003 invasion that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, had chemical and biological weapons, and maintained links to al Qaeda affiliates to whom it might give such weapons to use against the Untied States.

Duelfer was back in Washington finishing some addenda to his September report before it was reprinted. "There's no particular news in them, just some odds and ends," the intelligence official was quoted as saying.

Source: Xinhua

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