The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
If anyone has further information regarding the British press pool report (below) concerning possible SCUDs south of Basra, would they please forward to me ASAP (working on a newspaper correction). Other than this pool report, my understanding is that no prohibited SCUDs, and no prohibited nuclear/chem/bio weapon indicants have been found in Iraq to date. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA === http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A22859-2003Mar25?language=printer Evidence of Iraq Weapons Remains Elusive By CHARLES J. HANLEY The Associated Press Tuesday, March 25, 2003; 5:02 AM In months of allegation and investigation on the way to war, no firm evidence emerged that Iraq held weapons of mass destruction. Now it is up to the U.S. invasion force to find such weapons - if they exist. Coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks said Monday nothing conclusive has been uncovered thus far, but the U.S. military said it was investigating a chemical plant seized in southern Iraq's Najaf area as a "site of interest." "It could be difficult to find ... this stuff," Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said a day earlier. The U.S. and British accusations that Baghdad was hiding chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs were the reason most commonly cited by Washington for attacking Iraq. The credibility of those claims was undercut, however, by disclosures of forgery and misrepresentation underlying some of them, and by the failure of U.S. intelligence reports to lead U.N. inspectors to any important finds. If U.S. units now quickly report uncovering concealed arms programs, critics may question the authenticity of the reports or suggest that intelligence had been kept from the U.N. inspectors - and ask why. If few such weapons are found, the war's very premise will come under question. "I think that we probably have received several . . . bits of information over the last three or four days about potential WMD (weapons of mass destruction) locations," Franks said Monday. British troops have found what was described as "suspected" Scud missiles and warheads in a chemical factory at Damaniyah, south of Basra, according to a British press pool report. Experts have been called in to determine what is in the warheads. Skepticism about U.S.-British claims could be heard in last week's resignation of House of Commons leader Robin Cook from the British Cabinet to protest London's support of U.S. war plans. "Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term, namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target," said Cook, who had access to high-level British information. In the U.S. Congress, meanwhile, the disclosure that another U.S. allegation in the nuclear area was based on a forged document led Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D.-W.Va., to ask the FBI to investigate whether a "larger deception campaign" on Iraq was under way. For months, officials of the U.S. administration have asserted Iraq maintains stocks of such prohibited arms. In his television address two days before launching the invasion, Bush said U.S. troops would enter Iraq "to eliminate weapons of mass destruction." A day earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed on a TV talk show the Iraqis have "reconstituted nuclear weapons" - an assertion no specialist has supported. Chief nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei told the U.N. Security Council on March 7: "We have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program." Those inspections have now halted. But the on-again, off-again U.N. disarmament effort accomplished much after Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. The bulk of Baghdad's old chemical and biological weapons was certified by U.N. inspectors to have been destroyed in the 1990s, and the teams that returned to Iraq last November were pressing the Iraqis for documents and witnesses to clear up discrepancies and certify destruction of the remainder. Iraq's uranium-based nuclear program of the 1980s, which never produced a weapon, was dismantled by the U.N. nuclear agency in the early 1990s. ElBaradei's inspectors were in Iraq to guard against any resurrection of the nuclear work. Gaps and discrepancies in the record - combined with known Iraqi efforts a decade ago to conceal weapons programs - were the basis for U.S. allegations that, for example, the Iraqis today might retain as much as 500 tons of chemical agents or 25,000 liters of anthrax. The Iraqis claim to have destroyed it all. On the nuclear side, meanwhile, a U.S. State Department report in December alleged that Iraq had secretly tried to import uranium from the African nation of Niger, an assertion repeated in Bush's State of the Union address. Earlier this month, however, ElBaradei reported that the basis for the allegation - said to be a Niger government document - was a forgery. Another element in the U.S. nuclear allegations also came under questioning. Last September, the Bush administration leaked information about Iraqi purchase orders for aluminum tubes, which they said appeared intended for gas centrifuges that enrich uranium for bombs. In his Security Council report on March 7, ElBaradei said his experts had determined it "highly unlikely" the tubes were for nuclear weapons work. Powell persisted, saying two days later that new information "indicated the tubes were meant for centrifuges." But in an Associated Press interview on March 13, ElBaradei said, "We have this information and it doesn't change our assessment." Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the British government issued a dossier Feb. 3 on Iraq's "infrastructure of concealment," a paper praised by Powell in his own indictment of Iraq before the Security Council two days later. But the British dossier was subsequently determined to have been lifted in large part from published articles and a researcher's paper - not from fresh intelligence. Powell's UN presentation was densely detailed, speculating on the meaning of satellite photos, audio intercepts and other, unattributed information. But his claims drew a rebuff from Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector. Among other things, Blix said that a satellite photo the American secretary contended showed movement of proscribed munitions "could just as easily have been a routine activity." By the time of his next report, March 7, Blix was referring to such U.S. statements as "contentions" and "claims." Two months after U.S. officials said they had begun providing "significant" intelligence to the inspectors, Blix told the council he was still awaiting "high-quality information." He said no evidence had emerged to support U.S. contentions Iraq was producing chemical or biological weapons underground or in mobile laboratories. The inspectors, privately, disparaged the "leads" they were receiving from the U.S. government. After more than 700 surprise inspections at hundreds of sites since November, the U.N. teams had compiled a short list of proscribed items found: fewer than 20 old, empty chemical warheads for battlefield rockets, and a dozen artillery shells filled with mustard gas - shells tagged by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s but somehow not destroyed by them. Now, with the inspectors gone, it will fall to U.S. military forces to locate any secret weapons programs and to convince the world they're the real thing. --- EDITOR'S NOTE - Charles J. Hanley covered the U.N. arms inspections in Iraq. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk