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Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

What makes the hunt for Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction tricky business for the hunters?

April 23, 2003

What makes the hunt for Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction tricky business for the hunters?

The war in Iraq was fought not only to oust Saddam Hussein — but also to make sure that any of his weapons of mass destruction would be eliminated. Yet, coalition forces have difficulties finding them. If they do not show up, the success of Saddam's removal might be overshadowed by further questions of legitimacy. Our Read My Lips examines the state of the hunt for Iraq's WMD.

Mr. Powell, does the United States have any evidence?

“We have evidence these weapons existed. What we don’t have is evidence from Iraq that they have been destroyed or where they are.”

(U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, February 2003)

Mr. Blix, what is your assessment?

"If they didn't have any anthrax, it's difficult to prove that there is none."

(Hans Blix, UN weapons inspector, April 2003)

Mr. Putin, what is so puzzling about Iraq's WMD?

“Even in its dying throes, the regime did not use weapons of mass destruction. We still don’t know that it had any.”

(Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, April 2003)

How does America think about its search now?

“We’ve had a conceptional jump in how we think about — and what we look for — in Iraq’s program. We must look at the infrastructure — nit just for the weapons.”

(Member of the U.S. Team Alpha searching for WMD in Iraq, April 2003)

Why should the United States be worried about its ability to prove the existence of Iraq's WMD?

"Failure to discover chemical and biological weapons in Iraq would all but eliminate U.S. credibility on WMD globally."

(International Herald Tribune editorial, April 2003)

Will coalition forces find Saddam's weapons?

"We will not find them unless we stumble across them."

(Richard Perle, Pentagon advisor, April 2003)

Mr. Penn, why is it so difficult to find the weapons?

"Iraq is completely free of WMD."

(Sean Penn, Hollywood actor, April 2003)

Why would it be easier if WMD were to be found soon?

“As each day passes, conspiracy theories grow that any chemical or biological weapons found might well be planted by U.S. forces.”

(International Herald Tribune editorial, April 2003)

What is the problem even if WMD will be found?

“America is not going to convince the rest of the world it has uncovered a chemical or biological threat in Iraq if it persists in refusing to submit any find to independent outside assessment.”

(Robin Cook, former British Foreign Secretary, April 2003)

How do some people in the Arab world view the hunt for WMD in Iraq?

“Bush decided to launch this war because of weapons of mass destruction. Where are they? This war was launched to protect Israel.”

(Accountant in Cairo, April 2003)

Is the hunt for WMD just a cover for a war against Islam?

“The consequences of a failure of nerve to deal with the threat by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are potentially devastating for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

(British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, January 2003)