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The White House has confirmed that the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has been given up by the United States.

The recent disclosure by the Bush administration's own investigative team that Saddam Hussein had not possessed weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade, shattered the US president's principal justification for invading Iraq.

Ben Duncan in Washington DC

Contradicting the main argument for a war that has cost the lives of more than 15,000 Iraqis and over 1000 US soldiers, the US' top weapons inspector has declared that Iraq was free of WMDs before last year's invasion.

The US is to expand its hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, despite its inability to find any such weapons so far. 

America's chief arms hunter in Iraq has resigned and said he does not believe the country had any large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.

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