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Report Discounts Iraqi Arms Threat

The report includes page after page of names of individuals and companies -- many from China, Russia and France -- that had traded illegally with Iraq, the senior government official said. The State Department began briefing the named governments on the report yesterday, the official said.

Duelfer's findings follow reports by the Senate intelligence committee and his predecessor, David A. Kay, that criticized the prewar assessment that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Bush has pointed to the Duelfer report as the last word on the state of Iraq's weapons programs. Asked in June if he thought such weapons had existed in Iraq, Bush said he would "wait until Charlie gets back with the final report."

Charles A. Duelfer wrote that Iraq did not have the means to produce unconventional weapons. (File Photo)

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Another government official who was briefed on the report said that many U.S. officials had thought Hussein would "get down to business" in developing weapons when the U.N. inspectors left. "There's no evidence of that," the official said.

The official said that Iraq's nuclear-related activity in particular had been dormant for years before the invasion. "They probably didn't have a program for some period of time, well before we went in there," he said.

The Bush administration has held out the possibility that illicit weapons and their components were secreted by Hussein across the border into Syria. This may still be true, but Duelfer's team did not find any proof to support this notion, the official said. "They have no evidence of this," the official said. "It's an unresolved issue." Syria denies it aided the hiding of illicit materials.

Duelfer replaced Kay in January as the chief U.S. weapons hunter after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In title, he was the CIA's special adviser for strategy regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. As head of the Iraq Survey Group, he worked independent of the CIA and his report was not vetted or changed by the agency, said one U.S. government official familiar with Duelfer's work.

The president met with Duelfer at the White House on Feb. 6. Bush said during a prime-time news conference in April that during Duelfer's return to Iraq, he had been "amazed at how deceptive the Iraqis had been" toward U.N. inspectors, as well as "deceptive in hiding things."

The report also includes an investigation of a broad range of subjects that are either loosely or not at all connected to weapons of mass destruction, a foreign intelligence official said. These include Iraq's conventional weapons programs, evidence of corruption and abuse in the U.N.-monitored oil-for-food program, and dual-use equipment -- which could be used for either peaceful or military programs -- that U.N. inspectors may not have been aware of.

Staff writer Dafna Linzer contributed to this report.

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