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Wednesday,  January 15 12:01 AM EDT

Saddam Actually Just Doing Research for Book on Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Peter Detwick

Baghdad - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today told investigators he is not developing nuclear or biological weapons, but instead has been doing research for a book on weapons of mass destruction he hopes to see published next year.

Hussein, whose palaces were recently searched by the United Nations as part of an ongoing investigation, said he always been strongly opposed to such weapons, and believes he was a victim of weapons of mass destruction during his childhood.

According to inspectors, Hussein denied possessing any fissile or biochemical materièl, but acknowledged visiting "a handful" of Internet sites where he could view images of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. In an interview with the British tabloid The Sun, the dictator also admitted he used a credit card to access one such site, but "never downloaded any blueprints or bought any uranium or anything."

The visits, Hussein claims, were part of his research for an upcoming book, which will include a claim of weapons of mass destruction abuse when Saddam was between the ages of five and six years old and living with his maternal grandmother. (The abuse allegedly came from a male friend of the family, who forced Saddam to expose himself to nerve gas.)

The experience is considered an influence in Hussein's classic 1980 show of force in northern Iraq, in which thousands of Kurd boys were made deaf, dumb, and blind with sarin. But Hussein said that action was an "awkward but sincere" attempt at shedding light on weapons abuse, and insisted he should not be viewed as a weaponographer.

"I am angry about ease of access to weapons of mass destruction, and deeply wounded at the inference that I might be a procuring or peddling them," he said. "I have looked at weapons sites maybe three or four times in all, just the front pages and previews. I have never purchased any weapons of mass destruction or wished to own any. The truth is, we must try to stop it, but if we can't do that we should invest our energy in helping victims, such as myself."

Since the allegations came to light, Iraq fans have been poring over Hussein's novels, trying to discern whether he has given hints about his apparent obsession. Several passages have raised red flags, including one in his latest work, The Fortified Castle, which includes the line, "Rough boys, under the sheets, I want to infect you with 60cc of anthrax and kiss you."

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