Polish troops in Iraq recently have discovered “16 or 17” warheads containing sarin or mustard gas, according to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Donald Rumsfeld

“Now these are weapons that we always knew Saddam Hussein had that he had not declared, and they have tested them, and I have not seen them, and I have not tested them, but they believe that they are correct that these, in fact, were undeclared chemical weapons … ,” Rumsfeld told radio talk host Roger Hedgecock in an interview transcribed and posted on the Department of Defense website.

Rumsfeld said he was told of the discovery of the “quite lethal” chemical weapons by the Polish minister of defense at the NATO summit in Turkey last weekend.

The troops had made the find “within the last period of days” before the summit, he said.

Arguing for the difficulty of finding WMD in a country the size of California, Rumsfeld pointed out the hole where ousted dictator Saddam Hussein was captured “was probably big enough to hold chemical and biological weapons sufficient to kill tens of thousands of people.”

Rumsfeld also mentioned the U.S. had found jet aircraft Hussein’s regime had buried in sand.

Hedgecock asked Rumsfeld to comment on published reports that Syria is hiding Iraq’s WMD.

The defense secretary acknowledged “there have been a lot of intelligence speculation and rumors and chatter about the fact that Saddam Hussein may have placed some of his weapons of mass destruction in Syria prior to the start of the war.”

But he said, “Until that can be validated and proved, you’ll find people in the administration not talking about it.”

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