Oh, I forgot, there are more important things happening... Who was it on Pop Idol lastnight....?!?
Survey report draws a blank
The man in charge of a £180m ($300m) hunt for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction last night admitted that no weapon stocks had been found, and that all a three-month search had uncovered was a single vial containing a possible strain of biological agent.
According to a progress report by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), delivered to the US Congress yesterday by its leader, David Kay, Saddam had taken no steps to revive his nuclear weapons plan since 1998, and had abandoned any large-scale chemical weapons programme more than a decade ago.
Instead his report focused on documentary, circumstantial and informers' evidence which, Mr Kay said, pointed to Saddam's intentions to revive a weapons programme.
The vial contained a strain of a biological agent, botulinum, and was found hidden in the home of an Iraqi scientist. It was not clear when the vial was hidden.
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, yesterday claimed that the report justified the war, arguing that it contained "incontrovertible evidence" that Saddam was in breach of UN resolutions.
Mr Straw's remarks were echoed yesterday by Tony Blair who stressed in remarks before the report was released, that the ISG had only been actively searching for weapons for two months.
But several weapons experts contacted yesterday argued that while the ISG, like the UN inspectors before them, appear to have uncovered discrepancies, its overall findings appeared to confirm that Iraq did not have an arsenal of banned weapons at the time of the March invasion.
Ministry of Defence sources said: "There are no shining weapons. We found everything, but those weapons." They added: "It is impossible to predict what we will and won't find."
Mr Kay, an American weapons expert and former UN inspector, stressed that his search was not over and that 120 ammunition dumps had yet to be examined. He said he believed more biological weapons might yet be found, and claimed Saddam had also been planning to resume work on chemical and nuclear weapons at the time of the US and British invasion.
President George Bush has called on the Congress to provide a further £360m ($600m) to continue the search.
But Mr Kay's much awaited report was striking for its admissions on what had not been found.