Iraq was years away from having usable nuclear weapons even before war broke out in the Persian Gulf, an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said Thursday.

Authors David Albright, a physicist and senior scientist at Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C., and Mark Hibbs, a reporter for two nuclear industry publications based in Bonn, Germany, questioned President Bush's citing of Iraq's nuclear weapons potential that "the administration began pushing last November as a rationale for the use of miltary force.""After a months-long investigation of the requirements any country would need to build nuclear weapons, and an assesment of Iraq's ability to meet those requirements, we conclude that Saddam Hussein was many years away from developing usable nuclear weapons," the authors wrote for the March issue of the publication.