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Some chemical weapons sites bombed

Monday, November 12, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Osama bin Laden likely has some chemical or biological weapons, and U.S. forces have bombed some sites in Afghanistan that could have been involved in producing them, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday.

Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials said they doubt bin Laden's al-Qaida network has a nuclear weapon, as bin Laden told a Pakistani journalist in a recent interview.

"I think it's unlikely that they have a nuclear weapon, but on the other hand, with the determination they have, they may very well," Rumsfeld said on CBS. The defense secretary and other officials said they were worried, however, that al-Qaida network could have weapons of mass destruction that possibly include radiological weapons -- mixtures of conventional explosives and nuclear material designed to spread radiation without a nuclear detonation.

"We have every intelligence operation practically in the world on the problem of al-Qaida and the Taliban and their weapons of mass destruction at this point," the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said on ABC's "This Week."

The United States has identified several sites in Afghanistan where al-Qaida may have been producing weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said. Some of them have been bombed, some of them have not and others have not been found, he said.

"If we had good information on a chemical or biological development area, we would do something about it," Rumsfeld said on CBS. "It is not an easy thing to do. We have every desire in the world to prevent the terrorists from using these capabilities."

Getting information that a site may be producing weapons of mass destruction "faces you with a situation, are you best taking it out or are you best learning more about it," Rumsfeld said earlier on "Fox News Sunday."

Three sites found

The New York Times reported Sunday that the United States had identified three possible chemical or biological weapons sites in Afghanistan used by al-Qaida, and had avoided bombing them.

President Bush has said the anti-Taliban northern alliance should not take over the Afghan capital of Kabul, preferring to wait for a broad-based, post-Taliban government to be formed.


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