THE WASHINGTON TIMES, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said yesterday that, before the war in Iraq, the international community had no evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program.

“There was a presumption that there was a nuclear program going on,” Mrs. Palacio told The Washington Times.

“There were no evidences, no proof, but yes a pervasive idea that they were, that Saddam Hussein was in a way or other involved in a nuclear program,” she said.
The minister said that a report by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the United Nations on March 7 clarified Iraq's nuclear capabilities.

In that report, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei concluded that documents that formed the basis for reports of uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger were not authentic and there was no indication of resumed nuclear activities in buildings monitored by satellite imagery.

Mrs. Palacio's comments came amid an international political storm about whether the U.S. and British governments mishandled intelligence concerning Iraq's nuclear weapons programs that in turn, could have influenced other governments to support the conflict.

“I expect this issue will become less of an issue in the coming weeks,” said Mrs. Palacio, pointing out that recent increased cooperation with Iraqis likely would lead to information regarding weapons of mass destruction.

“We can never forget that what led us to the military intervention was that Saddam Hussein did not comply with international obligations” to explain or produce evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction