14 June 2004

Iraq and WMDs

There have been a couple of reports regarding new information on Saddam and WMDs. The stories center around scrap metal found in foreign countries. This is the type of information that supporters of the war read and then pass around as gospel. Why is it not more fully disseminated?

A World Tribune story declares that The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003. No other sites are reporting the story in this manner. SFGate has many of the same facts but suggests that the scrap metal was inefficiently disposed of.

As I search again from Google News, the story's stinking by association more and more. Most are distributing the AP story. The Christian Broadcasting Network has picked it up with added media-bashing (little mention of these discoveries has appeared in the major news media), and some site called MichNews has copied the article directly from The World Tribune's site. Check out MichNews's About page.

The greatest discrepancies between the two articles are shown in bold below. The World Tribune article reports that the U.N. inspectors said the WMDs were shipped abroad by agents of the Saddam regime. The SFGate article reports only that the inspectors didn't know whether the items ... were at the sites during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Paragraphs marked (A) discuss the fact that 20 missile engines were found in a scrap yard in Jordan with others in Rotterdam.

Paragraphs marked (B) discuss the relevance to biological and chemical weapons.

Paragraphs marked (C) discuss the relevance of dual-use equipment.

Paragraphs marked (D) discuss the export of scrap metal and who is responsible.

Paragraphs marked (E) discuss proliferation risks and the presence of the U.N. monitoring tags on the scrap.

For anyone who believes that text has only one interpretation, read these two articles. Unless I'm parsing them incorrectly, I don't think that the World Tribune version is supported.




SFGateWorld Tribune
(A) U.N. weapons experts have found 20 engines used in banned Iraqi missiles in a Jordan scrapyard along with other equipment which could be used to make weapons of mass destruction, an official said Wednesday.

The discoveries were revealed to the U.N. Security Council by acting chief U.N. inspector Demetrius Perricos during in a closed-door briefing. The text was obtained by The Associated Press.

(A.1) The U.N. team was following up on an earlier discovery of a similar Al Samoud 2 engine in a scrapyard in the Dutch port of Rotterdam. Perricos said inspectors also want to check in Turkey, which has also received scrap metal from Iraq.

(B) The discoveries raise questions about the fate of material and equipment that could be used to produce biological and chemical weapons as well as banned long-range missiles.

(C) The missile engines and some other equipment discovered in the scrapyards had been monitored by U.N. inspectors because of their potential dual use in both legitimate civilian activities and banned weapons production.

In his briefing to the Security Council, Perricos said U.N. inspectors do not how much material has been removed from Iraq that they had been monitoring.

U.N. inspectors were pulled out of Iraq just before the war began in March 2003, and the United States has refused to allow them to return, instead deploying its own teams to search for weapons of mass destruction.

(D.1) Perricos suggested that the interim Iraqi government, which will assume sovereignty when the U.S. and British occupation of the country ends on June 30, may want to reconsider "the whole policy for the continued export of metal scrap" which apparently started in mid-2003 and is regulated by the U.S.-led coalition.

(E.1) "The removal of these materials from Iraq raises concerns with regard to proliferation risks ... thereby also rendering the task of the disarmament of Iraq and its eventual confirmation, more difficult," Perricos said.

(D.2) "The only controls at the borders are for the weight of the scrap metal, and to check whether there are any explosive or radioactive materials within the scrap," he said, according to the text of his briefing.

(D.3) Afterwards, he told reporters that up to a thousand tons of scrap metal was leaving Iraq every day.

(D.4) "It's being exported. It's being traded out, and there is a large variety of scrap metal from very new to very old, and slowly, it seems the country is depleted of metal," he said.

(A.2) During last week's visit to Jordan, Perricos told the council that U.N. experts visited "relevant scrapyards" with the full cooperation of Jordanian authorities and discovered 20 SA-2 missile engines.

(E.2) The U.N. team also discovered some processing equipment with U.N. tags -- which show it was being monitored -- including heat exchangers, and a solid propellant mixer bowl to make missile fuel, he said. It also discovered "a large number of other processing equipment without tags, in very good condition."

(D.5) "These visits provide just a snapshot of the whole picture since the scrap metal has a short residence time and is re-exported to various countries," Perricos told the council.

In its quarterly report to the council on Monday, the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission which Perricos heads, said a number of sites in Iraq known to have contained equipment and material that could be used to produce banned weapons and long-range missiles have been cleaned out or destroyed.

(D.6) The inspectors said they didn't know whether the items, which had been monitored by the United Nations, were at the sites during the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The commission, known as UNMOVIC, said it was possible some material was taken by looters and sold as scrap.

UNMOVIC said its experts and a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body responsible for dismantling Iraq's nuclear program, were jointly investigating items from Iraq discovered in a scrapyard in Rotterdam.

The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.

(D.1) UNMOVIC acting executive chairman Demetrius Perricos told the council on June 9 that "the only controls at the borders are for the weight of the scrap metal, and to check whether there are any explosive or radioactive materials within the scrap," Middle East Newsline reported.

(D.2) "It's being exported," Perricos said after the briefing. "It's being traded out. And there is a large variety of scrap metal from very new to very old, and slowly, it seems the country is depleted of metal."

(E.1) "The removal of these materials from Iraq raises concerns with regard to proliferation risks," Perricos told the council. Perricos also reported that inspectors found Iraqi WMD and missile components shipped abroad that still contained UN inspection tags.

He said the Iraqi facilities were dismantled and sent both to Europe and around the Middle East. at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. Destionations included Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey.

(B) The Baghdad missile site contained a range of WMD and dual-use components, UN officials said. They included missile components, reactor vessel and fermenters – the latter required for the production of chemical and biological warheads.

(C) "It raises the question of what happened to the dual-use equipment, where is it now and what is it being used for," Ewen Buchanan, Perricos's spokesman, said. "You can make all kinds of pharmaceutical and medicinal products with a fermenter. You can also use it to breed anthrax."

(A) (E.2) The UNMOVIC report said Iraqi missiles were dismantled and exported to such countries as Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey. In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, an SA-2 surface-to-air missile, one of at least 12, was discovered in a junk yard, replete with UN tags. In Jordan, UN inspectors found 20 SA-2 engines as well as components for solid-fuel for missiles.

"The problem for us is that we don't know what may have passed through these yards and other yards elsewhere," Buchanan said. "We can't really assess the significance and don't know the full extent of activity that could be going on there or with others of Iraq's neighbors."

UN inspectors have assessed that the SA-2 and the short-range Al Samoud surface-to-surface missile were shipped abroad by agents of the Saddam regime. Buchanan said UNMOVIC plans to inspect other sites, including in Turkey.

In April, International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed El Baradei said material from Iraqi nuclear facilities were being smuggled out of the country.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

[ posted by sstrader on 14 June 2004 at 1:05:09 AM in Politics ]