Pentagon 2002 Study Reported `No Reliable' Data on Iraq Weapons

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. Defense Department report in September 2002 found ``no reliable information'' proving that Iraq had chemical weapons, even as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was saying the country had amassed stockpiles of the banned arms.

``There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has -- or will -- establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities,'' a report by the Defense Intelligence Agency said in a summary page obtained by Bloomberg News.

The unreleased report said Iraq ``probably'' had stockpiles of banned chemicals, a more tentative conclusion than Rumsfeld was presenting in public remarks. Iraq has ``amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin and mustard gas,'' he told Congress on Sept. 19.

The summary from the report suggests ``substantially more uncertainty than was stated by senior administration officials,'' said Kenneth Katzman, a specialist on Iraq's military for the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, who was told of the contents by Bloomberg.

No banned weapons have been found in Iraq. Lawmakers in the U.S. and the U.K. are demanding to know more about the intelligence cited as a reason for invading the Mideast country in March.

Biological Weapons

The Defense Intelligence Agency's uncertainty about Iraqi weapons extended to germ warfare programs, the summary suggests. ``Iraq is assessed to possess biological agent stockpiles that may be weaponized and ready for use,'' its report said. ``The size of those stockpiles is uncertain and is subject to debate. The nature and condition of those stockpiles also are unknown.''

``The DIA report suggests that before the Iraq War, the U.S. intelligence community did not have hard evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed large stocks of chemical and biological warfare agents that posed an imminent threat to U.S. national security,'' said Jonathan Tucker, a senior research fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace and former United Nations weapons inspector, also informed of the summary page contents by Bloomberg.

The Defense Intelligence Agency's findings in the report, ``Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities -- An Operational Support Study,'' are similar to those of other reports by the agency on Iraq's suspect weapons programs, a U.S. military intelligence official said.

Existence of the study was disclosed by U.S. News & World Report in its June 9 edition.

Judgments Defended

Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials say the weapons will be found after the allies locate people in Saddam Hussein's regime who know where they're hidden. Some officials, including Rumsfeld, have said Hussein may have shipped the weapons out of Iraq or destroyed them.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said yesterday that agency director George Tenet stands by his Feb. 12 statement to Congress that ``stockpiles of things he (Hussein) has not declared and weapons he has not declared,'' will be found.

U.S. defense officials on Wednesday defended pre-war judgments, such as those in the September 2002 report, as consistent with statements made by officials in the administration of President Bill Clinton.

``It's pretty clear that the intelligence judgments concerning Iraq weapons of mass destruction did not undergo a major change between the Clinton and Bush administrations,'' Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith told reporters at a Pentagon press conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Powell at UN

The CIA is reviewing its pre-war assessment to determine whether it overstated the threat posed by Hussein's weapons in response to ``hawks'' in the Pentagon, the New York Times reported Wednesday. The Washington Post said yesterday that some CIA analysts felt pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and his top aide, Lewis Libby. Cheney's office declined to comment, the Post said.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Tony Blair is under pressure to produce evidence underpinning his claims of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Blair said yesterday that he would produce ``all'' that evidence and he repeated denials that he embellished it.

Secretary of State Colin Powell on Feb. 5 gave the United Nations transcripts of intercepted telephone and radio communications, satellite photographs and statements from Iraqi defectors that he said proved Iraq had an active program of banned- weapons production. The war began six weeks later.

Last Updated: June 6, 2003 00:08 EDT