WSJ: Precursor WMDs Stockpiled in Iraq

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by freeandfun1, May 18, 2004.

  1. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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  2. DKSuddeth
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    DKSuddeth Senior Member

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    I'm a bit leery of such a huge find outside of a major city they've been around for over a year, but I'll hold off judgement until later info can be made available.
     
  3. Annie
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    Roadside Sarin

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005096

    The WMD we haven't found is still a threat.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:01 a.m.

    Yesterday's report that a roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent exploded recently near a U.S. convoy in Baghdad isn't impressing most of the press corps. They're dismissing it as no big deal--though we'd guess it was a rather large event for the two U.S. explosives experts lucky enough to escape with only minor exposure.
    Along with VX nerve gas, sarin is among the deadliest chemical toxins around. That it has now been used by our enemies in one of their improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, is at least notable as a reminder that we still don't know what happened to Saddam's WMD. We should want to solve this mystery before it turns up in other weapons targeting Americans, whether in Iraq or elsewhere.

    The media all but closed the books on the WMD story once it wasn't found in "stockpiles" quickly enough to vindicate the Bush Administration's case before the U.N. But even former U.N. inspector Hans Blix concedes that Saddam had large amounts of chemical and biological toxin in the 1990s. Their whereabouts today isn't just a who-got-it-wrong political issue but is, more urgently, a military problem.

    Mr. Blix seems ready to believe that Saddam destroyed them all himself--which is hardly reassuring given the former dictator's record. We'd put more stock in Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam, who told Fox News that he believes the weapons were either buried underground or transported to Syria. Saddam and his henchmen buried tanks, and even fighter aircraft, so it's easy to believe they were willing to hide barrels of gas or liquid under the sand.

    Keep in mind that, before the Iraq War began, U.S. commanders feared Iraqi use of chemical and biological toxins so much that they required chemical suits for their invading troops. To our knowledge, none were ever used. But given that U.S. strategists suspect that the regime and the Special Republican Guard deliberately melted away without a fight in order to re-form as an insurgency, it is certainly possible that they will use WMD munitions now.

    "I'm sure they're going to find more once time passes," Mr. George says. U.S. forces also confirmed yesterday that two weeks ago WMD hunters discovered Iraqi insurgents with a shell that contained mustard gas. Tests found the gas inert. But U.S. officials believe it was one of 550 such shells that Saddam possessed without disclosing before the war, notwithstanding Mr. Blix's pleading then and his assertions now.





    Though it gets little attention, the Iraq Survey Group that is searching for WMD has also found warehouses full of commercial and agricultural chemicals. Mixed and packaged properly, those could quickly become chemical weapons, and Saddam had no legitimate need for so much pesticide.
    Survey Group head Charles Duelfer has testified to Congress that Saddam had built new facilities and stockpiled the raw materials that would have allowed him to produce such weapons on a moment's notice once the international pressure was off. Insight magazine also reported this month that, in Karbala in central Iraq, U.S. forces found 55-gallon drums of pesticide, some of which were stored in a "camouflaged bunker complex." The alleged agricultural site just happened to be located alongside a military ammunition dump.

    Our own view has long been that the case for deposing Saddam was strong enough whether or not we found "stockpiles" of WMD. But just because we haven't found everything that the CIA anticipated doesn't mean it still isn't a threat.


    Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
     
  4. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    If you will recall (and I WILL find an article on this) these are the precursors that were found right after we invaded. The media just pooh pooh'd it at the time.....
     
  5. freeandfun1
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    From the 27 April 2003 Stars & Stripes:


    BAIJI, Iraq — U.S. soldiers on Saturday found 14 barrels of chemicals in a vast weapons storage area in north-central Iraq, and three initial tests indicated that they contained a deadly mixture of cyclosarin nerve agent and mustard gas.

    Previous finds of suspect chemicals in Iraq have turned out to be false alarms, and a Pentagon spokeswoman Saturday said defense officials had no conclusive evidence that the barrels contained chemical weapons. She said samples from the barrels would be sent to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland for further testing, a process that could take a week. An international team of chemical weapons experts headed to the site from Baghdad to conduct further tests on Sunday.

    But the fact that the barrels were found next to a mobile laboratory in a munitions dump makes them more suspicious, and if further tests confirm that they contain chemical weapons, it would provide the long-awaited evidence that Iraq was hiding chemical weapons, as the Bush administration charged in justifying the need for war.

    The tan barrels were found in a 3.5-square-mile storage area that also contained missiles, missile parts, gas masks, protective gear, a stripped mobile weapons laboratory and large storage containers covered by camouflage netting. The area is two miles east of the town of Baiji in the Jabal Makhul, low, wind-worn mountains about 25 miles north of Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

    The barrels were on the ground next to a mobile laboratory that looked like a 1970s Russian truck with a cube on the back that was filled with sinks, a fermenter and other equipment. It had been stripped bare, apparently by looters. Lt. Col. Ted Martin, the commander of the 10th Cavalry unit that tested and secured the barrels, said the mobile lab had charts showing dosage amounts.

    Lt. Victoria Phipps of Sherwood Ark., who heads the chemical reconnaissance team from the 10th Cavalry at the site, said three tests verified the presence of cyclosarin, a nerve agent, as well as a blistering agent, most likely mustard gas in liquid form, mixed together in a toxic slurry.

    The tests, she said, are 98 percent accurate.

    "There was so much intensity in that area it was hard to test further," she said. "The levels were very high."

    Cyclosarin is part of the family of organophosphate chemicals, which are also used in insecticides. Exposure to a lethal dose of sarin or cyclosarin leads to loss of muscle control, paralysis and convulsions. Death can occur in minutes. Low and medium exposure can result in nausea, dimness of vision and other symptoms that can last from days to weeks.

    Officers at the site where the barrels were discovered said the results of the initial tests and the proximity to other types of munitions seemed to indicate a high probability that the chemicals were intended as weapons, not for benign purposes such as pesticides.

    "It's the worst-case scenario in a can," said Martin.

    Special forces soldiers discovered the barrels on Friday afternoon, nestled in the low mountains near a tributary of the Tigris River. The team ran a quick test and determined the presence of a blister agent.

    Team members decontaminated themselves, left the area and called in the 10th Cavalry. Unable to find the barrels on Friday night, soldiers from the 10th Cavalry resumed the search on Saturday morning and found them on the ground.

    The 10th Cavalry team, wearing protective gear, lifted one barrel, which soldiers said was about three-quarters full, and opened the top with a mattock, a tool that resembles a pickaxe. They used baling wire to remove a sample and placed it on a chemical sensor called the M-21 Rascal. The tester uses a mobile mass spectrometer, which ionizes chemical agents to determine their mass. It then uses a computer to compare the mass to that of 68 known chemical weapons agents.

    In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, President Bush said that despite the lack of definitive evidence, he was convinced that Saddam Hussein did hide weapons of mass destruction.

    "We will find them," he said. "But it's going to take time to find them."

    The 14 suspicious barrels were found in an area of ravines and dry mountains with no buildings in sight. In some places, dirt was piled up around tanks and other military equipment.

    Few locals were seen in the area where the weapons were found. But one man interviewed by the Army said that an Iraqi officer appeared at the site shortly after the war began. When the local man asked him why he was there, the officer said it was too dangerous a place for anyone to come looking for him.

    As of Saturday night, U.S. soldiers had blocked off several square miles of the site and a decontamination team and doctors had arrived.

    Martin and his men also began searching for more sites.

    "I suspect this one here is not the only one," he said.

    LINK
     
  6. DKSuddeth
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    DKSuddeth Senior Member

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    so this is nothing new. ok.
     
  7. freeandfun1
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    Nothing new except in the sense that now the mainstream media is starting to pick it up.... a year after the fact.

    Which, I guess, is nothing new.
     
  8. Annie
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  9. Annie
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    James Taranto in WSJ's Best of the Web has this take, (embedded links, go to the site to pick up):

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/

    BY JAMES TARANTO
    Tuesday, May 18, 2004 4:39 p.m. EDT

    Spinning the Sarin
    Tests confirm that artillery shell that blew up in Iraq did indeed contain sarin--between three quarts' and a gallon's worth, Fox News reports. The New York Times buries the story on page 11 (something about weddings in Massachusetts led the front page, bizarrely enough), and it's shot through with pro-Saddam spin:

    The discovery of the sarin-filled shell appears to offer some of the most substantial evidence to date that Mr. Hussein did not destroy all of the banned chemical agent, as he claimed before the war last year. It provides some solace, and possibly fresh leads, to the American teams that have been conducting an otherwise fruitless search for the weapons for more than a year.

    The Bush administration's belief that Mr. Hussein continued to maintain stocks of such banned weapons was the primary justification put forward for invading Iraq in March 2003. American inspectors scouring the country since April 2003 have so far found little evidence that Mr. Hussein maintained such weapons or a program to produce them.

    Even more brazen spin comes from the liberal Detroit Free Press, which editorializes:

    This new and dangerous aspect of the war may be a consequence of the American failure to secure hundreds of Iraqi weapons caches and ammunition dumps during the race to Baghdad. There was simply too much stuff and not enough troops.

    Now, this may all be true. But isn't it amazing how the argument switched from "no WMDs" to "too much stuff" in the blink of an eye?

    Writing in The American Spectator Online, George Neumayr argues that the find confirms weapons inspector David Kay's case for war: "We know that terrorists were passing through Iraq," Kay told Congress "And now we know that there was little control over Iraq's weapons capabilities. I think it shows that Iraq was a very dangerous place. The country had the technology, the ability to produce, and there were terrorist groups passing through the country--and no central control."
     

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