Iraqi defector detailed destruction of weapons, Newsweek reports
In news that "raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist," Newsweek's March 3 edition reports that Hussein Kamel--the former Iraqi weapons chief whose 1995 defection proved the turning point in the decade-long U.N. weapons inspections process--had revealed in classified briefings to inspectors and CIA analysts that Iraq destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons in 1991, as Iraq claims.
Until now, Kamel, who was killed shortly after returning to Iraq in 1996, has best been known for exposing Iraq's deceptions about how far its pre-Gulf War biological weapons programs had advanced. But according to Newsweek's John Barry, who has covered the U.N. inspections for more than a decade, Kamel also told inspectors that "the [weapons] stocks had been destroyed" and all that remained were "hidden blueprints, computer disks, microfiches" and molds for warheads. But this part of his testimony was "hushed up by the U.N. inspectors" in order to "bluff Saddam into disclosing still more."
The news is particularly noteworthy because hawks in the Bush administration have frequently referred to the Kamel episode as evidence that U.N. inspectors are incapable of disarming Iraq on their own. Kamel's defection "should serve as a reminder to all that we often learned more as the result of defections than we learned from the inspection regime itself," Vice President Dick Cheney said last August in a speech warning against sending inspectors back to Iraq.
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