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Iraq war allies face tough questions on weapons

McKiernan: 'It's important to prove Saddam Hussein is dead'

A woman walks past abandoned missiles and a mobile launcher at Rahlibiya along the Tigris River in the outskirts of Baghdad on Wednesday.
A woman walks past abandoned missiles and a mobile launcher at Rahlibiya along the Tigris River in the outskirts of Baghdad on Wednesday.

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SPECIAL REPORT
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Leading U.S. allies in the war against Iraq are facing tough questions over whether they exaggerated Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction capability.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced a stormy House of Commons Wednesday, and pressure has mounted after suggestions that his office amended intelligence reports to strengthen the argument for war.

Blair has denied the allegations. (Full story)

In Spain, where, like Britain, there was widespread antiwar sentiment before the military campaign, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was asked to explain in parliament what has happened to the much-vaunted but still unfound weapons of mass destruction. (Full story)

Similar questions are being asked in Washington, where an American intelligence official said the CIA plans to give lawmakers the data U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell used for a prewar presentation on Iraq's arms to the United Nations. (Full story)

The state of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program and Baghdad's attempts to hide it from U.N. weapons inspectors were among the key reasons put forward by the United States and its allies when pressing the case for war.

One inquiry already has been set up into how the British government presented intelligence data. Blair said Wednesday the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee will conduct a second inquiry, but it would be done in secret by a panel appointed by Blair.

Debate focuses on a government dossier in September that said Iraq could launch chemical or biological attacks within 45 minutes.

Spanish opposition Socialist Party spokesman Felix Albertos said: "The U.S. and British governments are under scrutiny to prove the existence of these weapons, and Aznar could save them a lot of trouble if he would just produce the evidence here." (Full story)

Opposition parties recently have sporadically questioned Aznar in various parliamentary sessions about weapons of mass destruction.

But the Socialists' plan to demand a parliamentary session dedicated exclusively to Iraq's weapons is a first.

Some U.S. lawmakers also have complained that no proof of weapons of mass destruction has been found in Iraq.

Powell and other top officials have said proof of the weapons will be uncovered but that it might take time.

Saddam: Wanted dead or alive

Meanwhile, a U.S. general in Baghdad said Wednesday that finding out whether Saddam Hussein is dead or on the run is a primary goal for coalition forces.

Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, head of the 3rd U.S. Army, said that soldiers are looking for evidence of Saddam's death while searching through the rubble of destroyed buildings.

"It's important to prove Saddam Hussein is dead, not just gone," he said.

If the Iraqi people could be told for certain that Saddam is dead it would help cut the "fear factor," among the population, he said.

Other developments

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that claims his office doctored a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that claims his office doctored a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were "completely untrue."

• About 4,000 troops from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division are being moved from Baghdad to Fallujah -- which continues to be a stronghold of Iraqi resistance, U.S. military officials said Tuesday. The larger force will use its 88 tanks and 44 Bradley fighting vehicles to establish an increased presence on Fallujah's streets, officials said, and comes after a series of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq in recent days.

• Seven U.S. soldiers were injured overnight in separate attacks in Iraq, U.S. military officials told CNN Wednesday. Three soldiers were injured in Bayji and four in the Baghdad area. All of the attacks occurred during security patrols or when convoys were moving through the area. None of the injuries required medical evacuation.

• British soldiers in the Black Watch Battalion are facing questions about the deaths of two Iraqi prisoners, the British Defense Ministry confirmed Wednesday. A ministry spokeswoman said an investigation is under way after the Iraqis died last month at a detention center in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Additional probes have begun in two other incidents, according to the Defense Ministry. (Full story)

• Bush administration officials testified before a Senate panel Wednesday that Iraq's oil production is now about 800,000 barrels per day and is expected to rise to about 1.5 million barrels per day later this summer, about 40 percent of its top pre-war output. Production will increase to 2.5 million barrels per day by year's end. At that rate, Iraq could receive between $14 billion and $15 billion per year in gross revenues depending on world oil prices.

• The cost estimate for maintaining U.S. forces in Iraq through the end of the year is about $40 billion. But other countries are stepping up to defray some of the costs, Undersecretary of Defense Dov S. Zakheim testified Wednesday. Zakheim said a number of nations are helping defray the costs including: $150 million in emergency humanitarian aid pledged by Japan; $26 million, including 100,000 metric tons of wheat, plus agricultural expertise paid by Australia; and $338 million in humanitarian assistance from Britain.


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