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CIA report on Iraq & WMDs

Dear all

Many of you will have noticed a number of references in the press over the
last few days to a CIA report released last week, an "unclassified Report
to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass
Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January Through 30
June 2001". Some journalists have used the report to rachet up the
talk of the Iraqi threat, stating that it demonstrates the Iraqi
government's abiding interest in acquiring chemical, biological
and especially nuclear weapons.

The Iraq section is at:

(Links to the previous twice yearly sections on Iraq can be found at:
scroll down to "Central Intelligence Agency")

Here are a few comments.

The Iraq section is quite short - 9 paragraphs long. Within these
paragraphs, I count:

7 "could"s (as in Iraq "could" have dressed half its people as exotic

8 "possibly/likely/probably"s

3 "believe"s; and only

2 actual claims.

And one of those claims seems to be inaccurate (the other one, about
refurbishing trainer aircraft for delivery of chemical or "more likely"
biological agents, I can't assess).

The seemingly inaccurate one is:
'our concerns increased in September 2000 when Saddam publicly exhorted
his "Nuclear Mujahidin" to "defeat the enemy."'

This is inconsistent with the transcription of the speech at the time by
the BBC monitoring service. The speech was on 10 September 2000, and
was about, in part, nuclear energy. It can be read in part via:

If BBC monitoring is to be believed, Saddam Hussein actually
refers to "nuclear energy mujahidin". It doesn't mention the development
of weaponry, as the CIA report implies. The part about defeating enemies
is in a different part of the speech, directed to the "Air Defence". The
only equivalent reference in the nuclear energy part of the speech is
about defeating "evil" in a "race for righteousness".

The term "mujahidin" is often used in a non-combatant sense, to mean
anyone who struggles for a cause. Saddam Hussein, for example, often
refers to the mujahidin developing Iraq's medical facilities. Although
the speech is banal, obviously, there is nothing in there that indicates
that Iraq is attempting to develop or threaten the use of nuclear weapons.

Best regards

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