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U.S. Intelligence Is Softening Some Judgments on Illicit Arms

A broad United States government reappraisal of intelligence about illicit weapons programs around the world is prompting a softening of some earlier judgments about foreign arsenals, according to several American officials. The reassessment — in two parallel, highly classified reviews by the National Intelligence Council — is based on a review of judgments made on the basis of old intelligence and on new information, when that is available. The reviews, which are still in draft form, are the first since the late 1990’s by the council, which reports to George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence. In one key new judgment, the officials said, the chemical weapons assessment expresses less certainty than the last one about the status of China’s chemical weapons program. While China is still believed to possess chemical weapons, the officials said, the new review concludes that current intelligence is not sufficient to support an earlier firm judgment that those weapons have been deployed with military units. Full Story

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