Iraq WMD Hunt 'Has Been Exhausted'

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Wrapping up his investigation into Saddam Hussein's purported arsenal, the CIA's top weapons hunter in Iraq said his search for weapons of mass destruction "has been exhausted" without finding any.

Nor did Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, find any evidence that such weapons were shipped officially from Iraq to Syria to be hidden before the U.S. invasion, but he couldn't rule out some unofficial transfer of limited WMD-related materials.

He closed his effort with words of caution about potential future threats and careful assessment of this and other unanswered questions.

While concluding yet again that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, this latest report from the Iraq survey group also warns that Saddam Hussein's experts could find work elsewhere, for terrorists or unfriendly governments, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Holt.

The Bush administration justified its 2003 invasion of Iraq as necessary to eliminate Hussein's purported stockpile of WMD.

"As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible," wrote Duelfer in an addendum to the report he issued last fall. "After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted."

In 92 pages posted online Monday evening, Duelfer provided a final look at an investigation that, at its peak, occupied more than 1,000 military and civilian translators, weapons specialists and other experts. His latest addenda conclude a roughly 1,500-page report released last fall.

Among warnings sprinkled throughout the new documents, one concludes that Saddam's programs created a pool of weapons experts, many of whom will be seeking work. While most will probably turn to the "benign civil sector," the danger remains that "hostile foreign governments, terrorists or insurgents may seek Iraqi expertise."

"Because a single individual can advance certain WMD activities, it remains an important concern," one addendum said.
  • Joel Roberts

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