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2005-01-13 - 2:55 p.m.

Jan. 12 - The top American weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles A. Duelfer, has wrapped up his work there, a step that ends the search for illicit weapons, an intelligence official said Tuesday night.

Mr. Duelfer issued a comprehensive report last fall that acknowledged that Iraq had destroyed its chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990's, years before the American invasion of 2003. But Mr. Duelfer returned to Iraq for further investigations after that report was issued. In an article in its Wednesday issue, The Washington Post reported that he had ended that work in late December.

The intelligence official said that Mr. Duelfer was still likely to issue several small additional statements on his findings, but that none would contradict the central conclusions that Iraq did not possess illicit weapons at the time of the American invasion.

President Bush and his top advisers had described what they said were illicit Iraqi arsenals as the central justification for going to war.

Mr. Duelfer, an adviser to the director of central intelligence, had overseen the work of the Iraq Survey Group, a 1,200-member military organization that carried out the work of searching for weapons, interviewing Iraqi officials and drawing up assessments.

That team remains in Iraq, but the main focus of its work shifted several months ago to efforts to combat the anti-American insurgency there.

from the AP wire service


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