us gives up wmd hunt

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    US gives up WMD hunt in Iraq

    By John Shovelan in Washington and agencies

    The Bush administration in the United States has confirmed it has given up its hunt for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq.

    The 700 members of the Iraq Survey Group have been redeployed.

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan announced the hunt was over.

    "The weapons that we all believe were there based on the intelligence were not there," he said.

    The Bush administration and its allies said the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's stockpiles of WMD and his intention to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program justified the invasion and the war.

    The US's top weapons hunter, CIA specialist Charles Duelfer, has returned home to the US.

    Mr McClellan says a lot of the Iraq Survey Group's mission is now focused elsewhere.

    He says nothing has changed President Bush's view that Saddam's regime had the intent and capability to use such weapons.

    "Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive strategy to undermine the UN oil-for-food program and bring down the United Nations sanctions through illicit finance and procurement schemes," Mr McClellan said.

    "He intended to resume his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction once those sanctions were eliminated."

    An interim report last September concluded that Iraq had no stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons.
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