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Secret team looks for WMDs

Britain and the US have bypassed the UN to set up a secret team to search for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2003 12:19 IST

Britain and the US have bypassed the UN to set up a secret team to search for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq, The Guardian reported. In Baghdad, a top scientific adviser of the Saddam Hussein regime — one of the 55 most wanted by the Americans — surrendered, insisting Iraq had no WMDs.

Germany's ZDF television network showed Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi leaving his villa with his German wife Helga, and presenting himself to a US warrant officer, who escorted him away. He told ZDF he knew nothing about what happened to Saddam.

In Doha, the US central command said it had no information on al-Saadi's surrender. Al-Saadi worked extensively with UN weapons inspectors and often spoke for Iraq at news conferences, always maintaining that his country was free of WMDs.

The news of the setting up of the US-British team was given to The Guardian by David Kay, a former head of Unscom, the arms inspection team that left Iraq in 1998. The new group headed by Charles Duelfer, former deputy head of Unscom weapons inspectors, apparently set up base in Kuwait a week before the war began.

The coalition is desperate to find a 'smoking gun' to justify the war on Iraq, but have so far found no banned weapons. The setting up of the new group, dubbed 'US-movic' as opposed to Unmovic, will infuriate the UN.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has already reminded the coalition that Unmovic still had the mandate to carry out inspections. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said on Friday that the war had been planned "well in advance", and evidence had been "fabricated" to justify it.

Blix told the Spanish daily El Pais: "There is evidence that this war was planned well in advance. Sometimes this raises doubts about their attitude to the weapons inspections."

Day 24

'SADDAM ALIVE': Leadership-hopeful Ahmad Chalabi said Saddam was alive somewhere north-east of Baghdad. Baghdad residents said they’d seen son Qusay alive

SYRIA WARNED: Bush told Syria ‘Baathists or Saddam’s family or generals (must not) find safe haven there’

KIRKUK PULLBACK: Kurdish guerrillas began to pull back from Kirkuk, which they seized on Thursday. American forces increased their presence in the town which Turkey wants rid of Kurds

First Published: Apr 13, 2003 00:15 IST