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Reports: Iraq intended to make illicit arms

By wire services
Published September 17, 2004

WASHINGTON - A new report on Iraq's illicit weapons program is expected to conclude that Saddam Hussein's government had a clear intent to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons if U.N. sanctions were lifted, the New York Times and Associated Press reported Thursday, quoting unnamed government officials. But the report finds no evidence that Iraq had begun any large-scale program for weapons production by the time of the U.S. invasion last year, the officials said.

The most specific evidence of an illicit weapons program, the unnamed officials said, has been uncovered in clandestine labs operated by the Iraqi Intelligence Service, which could have produced small quantities of lethal chemical and biological agents, though probably for use in assassinations, not to inflict mass casualties.

A draft report of nearly 1,500 pages that is now circulating within the government essentially reaffirms the findings of an interim review completed 11 months ago, the officials said. But they said it adds considerable detail, particularly on the question of Iraq's intention to produce weapons if U.N. sanctions were weakened or lifted, a judgment they said was based on documents signed by senior leaders and the debriefings of former Iraqi scientists and top officials, as well as other records.

A final version of the report, by Charles Duelfer, the top American weapons inspector in Iraq, is expected to be made public within the next several weeks.

Attorney: Evidence in prisoner's death is found

SAN DIEGO - Missing medical evidence taken from the body of an Iraqi man beaten by Marine prison guards resurfaced this week, a defense attorney for an officer charged in connection with the man's death said Thursday. For months, the military had insisted the evidence was lost.

An Army medical examiner found the larynx of Nagem Hatab in a freezer in Germany, said Keith Higgins, a civilian defense attorney. The examiner, Col. Kathleen Ingwersen, conducted Hatab's autopsy in Iraq and concluded he died from a broken bone in his neck.

Higgins represents Marine Maj. Clarke Paulus, who ran the jail at the prison camp and is accused of ordering one of his men to drag Hatab by his neck after the Iraqi suffered a severe bout of diarrhea and collapsed while in custody.

Paulus, 35, faces up to 41/2 years in prison if convicted of aggravated assault, dereliction of duty and maltreatment of prisoners. The court-martial is scheduled to begin in November at Camp Pendleton, the Marine base north of San Diego.

Also . . .

BODY FOUND: Early today, 40 miles north of Baghdad, police found the corpse of a man they believed to be a Westerner. The body was pulled from the Tigris River near the central Iraqi village of Yethrib, said Capt. Hakim al-Azawi, the head of security at Tikrit's Teaching Hospital.

The man, described as tall and well built with blond hair, had been shot in the back of the head. His hands were cuffed behind his back. No documents were found on the body.

HOSTAGE RELEASED: Kidnappers released a Jordanian truck driver Thursday after his company declared it would stop working in Iraq, a Jordanian Foreign Ministry official said.

Jordan's official Petra news agency quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry official as saying Turki Simer Khalifeh al-Breizat was freed and taken to the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad.

At least 12 Jordanians have been abducted since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

[Last modified September 17, 2004, 02:55:32]

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