Iraqi Colonel: WMD Could've Been Launched in 45 Minutes

Saddam Hussein (search) had weapons of mass destruction and his army was capable of firing them off in less than 45 minutes, according to statements from an Iraqi colonel.

Lt. Col. al-Dabbagh told the London Telegraph that cases of WMD warheads were shipped under cover of darkness to front-line units, including his own, near the end of 2002, in a report published in Sunday editions.

In September of 2002 the British government published a controversial intelligence report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, claiming WMD could be launched within 45 minutes. Al-Dabbagh said he believed he was the source of the claim, which was widely criticized as being a ploy by British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) to gain support for military action in Iraq (search).

"I am the one responsible for providing this information," al-Dabbagh, 40, told the Telegraph when shown the dossier. "It is 100 percent accurate."

"Forget 45 minutes, we could have fired these within half-an-hour," he was quoted as saying.

Al-Dabbagh told the paper that the weapons were Iraqi-manufactured and were designed to be launched from hand-held rocket-propelled grenades. Whether the weapons contained biological or chemical agents was not made clear by al-Dabbagh, the report said.

Iraqi military commanders could use the weapons only on the personal orders of Saddam, al-Dabbagh told the paper, adding: "We were told that when the war came we would only have a short time to use everything we had to defend ourselves, including the secret weapon."

So why weren't the weapons launched against the allied forces encroaching on Iraq? Al-Dabbagh said the majority of the Iraqi army did not want to fight for Saddam.

"The West should thank God that the Iraqi army decided not to fight," he told the paper. "If the army had fought for Saddam Hussein and used these weapons there would have been terrible consequences."