Why we went to Iraq

It wasn't about oil. It wasn't about Halliburton contracts. It wasn't to bring democracy, US style to the Middle East. It was to ensure that the Ba'ath Party of Iraq understood it's obligations as part of the international community. Obligations it had ignored since getting it's ass kicked six ways from Sunday in 1991. Remember the final months leading up to this Gulf War? No? Remember the Blix report?

Let's look at the head of UNMOVIC, Dr Hans Blixs' comments when he presented information to the UN Security Council on Monday, 23rd January 2003. Specifically, I would like to highlight the points raised by Blix was the main reason a coalition of countries moved into Iraq to guarantee compliance and ensure that the WMD inspection process was completed, without influence or prevarication by the Iraqi authorities.

"I shall only give some examples of issues and questions that need to be answered, and I turn first to the sector of chemical weapons. The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed. Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons, and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it was said that the agent was never weaponized.

Iraq said that the small quantity of [the] agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.

There are also indications that the agent was weaponized. In addition, there are questions to be answered concerning the fate of the VX precursor chemicals, which Iraq states were lost during bombing in the Gulf War or were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

I would now like to turn to the so-called air force document that I have discussed with the council before. This document was originally found by an UNSCOM inspector in a safe in Iraqi air force headquarters in 1998, and taken from her by Iraq minders. It gives an account of the expenditure of bombs, including chemical bombs by Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War. I'm encouraged by the fact that Iraq has now provided this document to UNMOVIC.

The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi air force between 1983 and 1998, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at the storage depot, 170 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved here in the past few years at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. The investigation of these rockets is still proceeding.

Iraq states that they were overlooked from 1991 from a batch of some 2,000 that were stored there during the Gulf War. This could be the case. They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve, but rather points to the issue of several thousand of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for. The finding of the rockets shows that Iraq needs to make more effort to ensure that its declaration is currently accurate.

During my recent discussions in Baghdad, Iraq declared that it would make new efforts in this regard and has set up a committee of investigation. Since then, it has reported that it has found four chemical rockets at a storage depot in al-Haji. I might further mention that inspectors have found at another site a laboratory quantity of ... a mustard [gas] precursor.

While addressing chemical issues, I should mention a matter which I reported on 19th of December last year concerning equipment at a civilian chemical plant at al-Fallujah. Iraq has declared that it had repaired chemical processing equipment previously destroyed under UNSCOM supervision and had installed it at Fallujah for the production of chlorine and phenols. We have inspected this equipment and are conducting a detailed technical evaluation of it. On completion, we will decide whether this and other equipment that has been recovered by Iraq should be destroyed.

I turn to biological weapons. I mention the issue of anthrax to the council on previous occasions, and I come back to it as it is an important one. Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 liters of this biological warfare agent, which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. Iraq has provided little evidence for this production and no convincing evidence for its destruction.

There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared and that at least some of this was retained over the declared destruction date. It might still exist. Either it should be found and be destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision or else convincing evidence should be produced to show that it was indeed destroyed in 1991.

As I reported to the council on the 19th of December last year, Iraq did not declare a significant quantity, some 650 kilos, of bacterial growth media, which was acknowledged as reported in Iraq's submission to the Amorim panel in February 1999. As a part of its 7 December 2002 declaration Iraq resubmitted the Amorim panel document but the table showing this particular import of media was not included. The absence of this table would appear to be deliberate, as the pages of the resubmitted document were renumbered.

In the letter of 24th of January this year to the president of the Security Council, Iraq's foreign minister stated that, I quote, "All imported quantities of growth media were declared." This is not evidence. I note that the quantity of media involved would suffice to produce, for example, about 5,000 liters of concentrated anthrax.

I turn, Mr. President, now to the missile sector. There remain significant questions as to whether Iraq retained Scud-type missiles after the Gulf War. Iraq declared the consumption of a number of Scud missiles as targets in the development of an anti-ballistic missile defense system during the 1980s, yet no technical information has been produced about that program or data on the consumption of the missiles.

There has been a range of developments in the missile field during the past four years, presented by Iraq in the declaration as non-proscribed activities. We are trying to gather a clear understanding of them through inspections and on-site discussions.

Two projects in particular stand out. They are the development of a liquid-fueled missile named Al-Samud II and a solid propellant missile called Al-Fatah. Both missiles have been tested to arrange in excess of the permitted range of 150 kilometers, with the Al-Samud II being tested to a maximum of 183 kilometers and the Al-Fatah to 161 kilometers. Some of both types of missiles have already been provided to the Iraqi armed forces, even though it is stated that they're still undergoing development.

The Al-Samud's diameter was increased from an earlier version to the present 760 mm. This modification was made despite a 1994 letter from the executive chairman of UNSCOM directing Iraq to limit its missile diameters to less than 600 mm. Furthermore, a November 1997 letter from the executive chairman of UNSCOM to Iraq prohibited the use of engines from certain surface-to-air missiles for the use in ballistic missiles.

During my recent meeting in Baghdad, we were briefed on these two programs. We were told that the final range for both systems would be less than the permitted maximum of 150 kilometers. These missiles might well represent prima facie cases of proscribed systems. The test ranges in excess of 150 kilometers are significant, but some further technical considerations need to be made before we reach a conclusion on this issue. In the meantime, we have asked Iraq to cease flight tests of both missiles.

In addition, Iraq has refurbished its missile production infrastructure. In particular, Iraq reconstituted a number of casting chambers which had previously been destroyed under UNSCOM's supervision. They had been used in the production of solid fuel missiles. Whatever missile system these chambers are intended for, they could produce motors for missiles capable of ranges significantly greater than 150 kilometers.

Also associated with these missiles and related developments is the import which has been taking place during the last two years of a number of items despite the sanctions, including as late as December 2002. Foremost among these is import of 300 rockets engines which may be used for the Al-Samud II.

Iraq has also declared the recent import of chemicals used in propellants, test instrumentation and guidance and control system. These items may well be for proscribed purposes; that is yet to be determined. What is clear is that they were illegally brought into Iraq; that is, Iraq or some company in Iraq circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions."

Need some more (rocket) fuel for thought?

"The recent inspection find in the private home of a scientist of a box of some 3,000 pages of documents, much of it relating to the lacing enrichment of uranium, support a concern that has long existed that documents might be distributed to the homes of private individuals. This interpretation is refuted by the Iraqi side which claims that research staff sometimes may bring papers from their work places. On our side, we cannot help but think that the case might not be isolated and that such placements of documents is deliberate to make discovery difficult and to seek to shield documents by placing them in private homes."

So let's have a quick summary of Iraq's efforts to clear their good name, and lift UN sanctions against them.
1. Information from Iraq relating to large quantities of the nerve agent VX,which may or may not have been weaponised was inaccurate, with the inspection agency believing that one of the deadliest toxins known to man, was being prepared for a method of delivery as part of a military weapon. Precursor chemicals used to create the toxin have yet to be accounted for.
2. Some 6500 chemical weapons remain unaccounted for from the war between Iran and Iraq in the 80's. These weapons are believed to hold up to 1000 tonnes of toxic chemical warheads.
3. Chemical processing equipment previously destroyed by UNSCOM was repaired and replaced to restart a chemical refining process. Under contravention of previous UN Resolutions.
4. No evidence to the destruction or location of some 8500 litres of anthrax, a highly toxic biological warfare agent. But hey, they said it was destroyed, so that should be good enough, right? Not to mention strong evidence indicating a far higher amount of material produced than they declared. It's not like the Iraqi government to LIE about anything.
5. Didn't declare some 650 kilos of bacterial growth medium. The culture required to grow anthrax spores. Oops, forgot. By the way, this makes about 5000 litres of concentrated anthrax.
6. A missile programme designed to produce missiles with ranges in excess of that allowed under UN Resolution, with propellant, guidance system and rocket motor research continuing to vastly extend the range of these missiles. Once again, what were they thinking? Oh, that's right, the UN were watching. No probs then, full steam ahead. Increased missile diameters, with larger payload capabilities and longer ranges. The importation of 300 rocket motors for the Al-Samud rocket. All illegal.
7. The finding of a large amount of material relating to the enrichment of uranium at a scientist's private home. Because that's where I'd keep my nuclear secrets. In the lounge or on the kitchen table.

So, of course, after 12 years, we should have kept the inspections going. Apparently. That's right, IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE OIL! Morons.

(Cross posted at Bastards Inc)

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