The Bush administration has admitted that Saddam Hussein probably had no weapons of mass destruction.
Senior officials in the Bush administration have admitted that they would be 'amazed' if weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were found in Iraq.
According to administration sources, Saddam shut down and destroyed large parts of his WMD programs before the invasion of Iraq.
Ironically, the claims came as US President George Bush yesterday repeatedly justified the war as necessary to remove Iraq's chemical and biological arms which posed a direct threat to America.
Bush claimed: 'Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We will find them.'
The comments from within the administration will add further weight to attacks on the Blair government by Labour backbenchers that there is no 'smoking gun' and that the war against Iraq -- which centered on claims that Saddam was a risk to Britain, America and the Middle East because of unconventional weapons -- was unjustified.
The senior US official added that America never expected to find a huge arsenal, arguing that the administration was more concerned about the ability of Saddam's scientists -- which he labeled the 'nuclear mujahidin' -- to develop WMDs when the crisis passed.
This represents a clearly dramatic shift in the definition of the Bush doctrine's central tenet -- the pre-emptive strike. Previously, according to Washington, a pre-emptive war could be waged against a hostile country with WMDs in order to protect American security.
Now, however, according to the US official, pre-emptive action is justified against a nation which simply has the ability to develop unconventional weapons.
©2003 smg sunday newspapers ltd