Middle East - AP

Report: Israel Wrong on Iraq Weapons

Date: Thu, Mar 25, 2004

By PETER ENAV, Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM - Parliamentary investigators have determined that Israel's intelligence services delivered an erroneous assessment of pre-war Iraq (news - web sites)'s weapons of mass destruction, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.

Prior to the American-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Israeli services reported Iraq had large amounts of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological agents.

Since ousting Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), the U.S.-led coalition's technical experts have failed to find any such weapons.

An investigative subcommittee was formed eight months ago to consider if Israeli intelligence agencies provided an accurate picture of Iraqi unconventional weapons capabilities on the eve of the Iraq war.

The Haaretz daily said the 80-page report — set to be released next week — had criticized all Israeli intelligence branches for providing erroneous assessments of Iraq's non-conventional weapons.

It said the report recommended that Israeli intelligence services re-examine their techniques and the way responsibility is divided among them.

A spokesman for legislator Yuval Steinitz, who chaired the parliamentary committee, would not comment on the Haaretz report.

The Israeli military and various intelligence agencies also declined to comment.

Based on intelligence warnings that a U.S.-led invasion could trigger an Iraqi missile attack on Israel, the Israeli military ordered citizens to update their gas mask kits in the run-up to the Iraq war. The step cost the country millions of dollars. No missiles were fired on Israel during the war.

In the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites), Saddam's forces fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. All had conventional warheads, causing considerable damage but few casualties.

The parliamentary report was based on the closed-door testimony of some 70 witnesses, including the prime minister, defense minister, military chief of staff, and the heads of the Mossad foreign intelligence service, the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service, and the military intelligence service. After the report's release, some sections will remain classified.

Last December, a former Israeli intelligence officer charged that Israel produced a flawed picture of Iraqi weapons capabilities and substantially contributed to mistakes made in U.S. and British prewar assessments on Iraq.

The comments of reserve Brig. Gen. Shlomo Brom represented an unusual criticism of the Israeli intelligence community, long regarded as one of the world's best. Prior to his retirement in 1998, Brom served in Israeli military intelligence for 25 years, and acted as the deputy chief of planning for the Israeli army.

Brom said he was directing his remarks at Military Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, and the Mossad intelligence agency.



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