A new report suggests Iraq was
not in possession of chemical or
biological weapons

Before the war with Iraq, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) reported it had "no reliable information" that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, a US defence official confirmed Friday.

"It is fair to say there was no reliable information to say declaratively, 'yes, there was stuff'," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

But the official said that there was reliable information to say "with a degree of confidence that there was a weapons programme."

The report however, contradicts US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, who said Iraq had amassed large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

US claims that Iraq was hiding chemical and biological weapons from UN inspectors, and had revived a nuclear programme became the main rationale for the US-led war on Iraq in March and ouster of the regime of Saddam Hussein three weeks later.

But US forces have yet to uncover any weapons of mass destruction since the end of the war. Two mobile laboratories have been discovered, but have not provided any evidence of a banned weapons programme.

This has prompted sharp questions from Congress about the intelligence that US decision-makers used to make the Bush administration’s case for war.

“What evidence does this administration have to justify this war?”, asked Congressman Denis Kosinitch.

“The president of this country has led us through war using baseless allegations. Time is overdue for this administration to disclose its evidence,” he said.

US administration officials still insist that their claims about Iraqi WMDs will be proved to be accurate.

But the CIA has launched an investigation to see if intelligence reports were distorted to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.