WASHINGTON (AP) — The final U.S. intelligence report on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is expected to address whether the banned armaments may have been smuggled out of the country before the war started.

Top Bush administration officials have speculated publicly that chemical, biological or radiological weapons may have been smuggled out, and the question is one of the unresolved issues on WMD. The report is due next month.

Intelligence and congressional officials say they have not seen any information indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere.

The administration acknowledged last week that the search for banned weapons is largely over. The Iraq Survey Group’s chief, Charles Duelfer, is expected to submit the final installments of his report in February. A small number of the organization’s experts will remain on the job in case new intelligence on Iraqi WMD is unearthed.

But the officials familiar with the search say U.S. authorities have found no evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein transferred WMD or related equipment out of Iraq.

A special adviser to the CIA director, Duelfer declined an interview request through an agency spokesman. In his last public statements, he told a Senate panel last October that it remained unclear whether banned weapons could have been moved from Iraq.

“What I can tell you is that I believe we know a lot of materials left Iraq and went to Syria. There was certainly a lot of traffic across the border points,” he said. “But whether in fact in any of these trucks there was WMD-related materials, I cannot say.”

Last week, a congressional official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said suggestions that weapons or components were sent from Iraq were based on speculation stemming from uncorroborated information.

President Bush and top-raking officials in his administration used the existence of WMD in Iraq as the main justification for the March 2003 invasion, and throughout much of last year the White House continued to raise the possibility the weapons were transferred to another country.

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