Thursday, August 05, 2004

Saddam used Oil-for-Food money on WMD

Earlier, I linked to a report by Charles Duelfer, the chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, who said it is too early to jump to conclusions regarding Iraq's weapons programs and the apparent lack thereof.

In July, William Shawcross wrote in The Guardian (link in title) about Duelfer's testimony to Congress this past March, a news item that has been WOEFULLY underreported in the media:

Too little attention has been paid to the preliminary report of Charles Duelfer, the new head of Washington's Iraq Survey Group (ISG). He testified to Congress in March that "we must determine what Saddam ordered, what his ministers ordered, and how the plans fit together. Were weapons hidden that were not readily available? Was there a plan for a break-out production capacity?"

It may be that, despite the prewar intelligence, Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons at the time of the war in March 2003. But to assert that there was therefore no WMD threat is to trivialise the issue. Intelligence has to look at form. Saddam's history over the past 14 years was one of attempting to obtain and conceal WMD. During the Gulf war he fired 39 missiles into Israel . . .

According to Duelfer, Saddam's deception of the UN inspectors "continued right up until war in 2003". Sensitive sites could be sanitised at 15 minutes notice.

The CIA had not one single human agent in Iraq and Britain's agents, according to [Lord] Butler [author of the British report on its pre-war intelligence], were fallible. But even if there had been more agents, it is not certain they could have found the truth about WMD. Strict compartmentalisation is a feature of such regimes. According to Duelfer, "We know from high-level debriefings that Saddam conveyed his most sensitive messages to particular individuals orally. Moreover there were explicit instructions not to repeat such conversations."

Duelfer told Congress that Iraq's illegal military procurement budget increased 100-fold from 1996 to 2003 to $500m annually, most of the money coming from illicit contracts under the UN's Oil for Food programme.

The Tuwaitha Research Centre had equipment suitable for producing biological agents and "was conducting research that would be important for a biological weapons programme". In the nuclear area, Duelfer believes that Iraq was "preserving and expanding its knowledge to design and develop nuclear weapons", and suspects that one laboratory "was intentionally focused on research applicable for nuclear weapons development".

The ISG has also discovered "a very robust programme for delivery systems that were not reported to the UN". Saddam had already developed missiles "that easily exceeded the UN limit of 150km". Iraq was discussing with North Korea the possibility of importing a 1,300km missile system. Foreign missile experts were working in Iraq in defiance of UN sanctions, and had helped Iraq redesign the al-Samoud missile.

Why isn't this getting more attention in the US press other than in NewsMax?

Tippin' me hat to: Say Anything

Submitted to: Beltway Traffic Jam

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