the politics of mass destruction

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Richard Spertzel
    Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2003

    Even as evidence is uncovered that Saddam Hussein was planning to revive his nuclear-weapons program at the earliest possible date, politicians and pundits alike lament the failure of coalition forces to find a "smoking gun." Despite the recent discovery of plans and parts for a uranium-enrichment centrifuge, some presidential candidates have accused the Bush administration of lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify the war with Iraq. Such assertions ignore all that has been learned and has transpired during the past 12-plus years. As I've said time and again, expecting any inspection regime to find a massive cache of WMDs is a lesson in self-delusion…

    Recall that during the first Gulf War, Iraq stored its biological-agent-filled munitions in pits dug in the sand or in abandoned railroad tunnels. Such sites are not easily found. Good intelligence emanating from those Iraqi personnel responsible [for] such storage sites will be required. Indeed, it was an Iraqi scientist who last week led coalition forces to the site where the uranium-enrichment equipment was buried. But many WMD personnel were part of the Special Security Organization under Saddam's younger son, Qusay. The information is not likely to be obtained easily.

    Some pundits question, if Iraq had WMDs, why did it not use them? Iraq learned from the first Gulf War that coalition forces headed by the U.S. could advance very rapidly. Iraq also indicated in testimony to the U.N. Special Commission, or Unscom, that biological weapons would have little effect in stopping an advancing military force. Rather, their interest was to use biological weapons to intimidate their neighbors and cause them to "see things Iraq's way."…The failure to use chemical WMDs is also not surprising considering the apparent confusion within the Iraqi command structure during the race to Baghdad.

    Then, why have such weapons not been found? The answer may lie in the training and experience of the inspectors. The initial team looking for WMDs in Iraq was more reminiscent of site exploiters than inspectors. True, if they found a bomb or missile warhead, they were capable of further exploitation of the find to determine its contents. But they apparently did not have testing instruments capable of detecting trace amounts of biological-weapons agents. The next iteration of the coalition inspectors was supposed to have a number of inspectors that had extensive experience in Iraq and has been so misrepresented in the media. I was asked in February to propose a list of Unscom experienced biological inspectors (a so-called A team) that had multiple inspection trips to Iraq. These were to be from the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. In March, after the concept was approved, I was asked to contact those on my list to assure they were willing and able to devote the time. All but one agreed to the deployment. None of the individuals on that list ever made it to Iraq.

    A few weeks ago David Albright, writing in the Washington Post, stated that he had been contacted by several Iraqi nuclear scientists who asserted that they were afraid to talk to the coalition inspectors because of the way they were being treated by the inspectors--interrogation, threats, etc., rather than with any degree of respect…. One doesn't need to like what was done or the individual scientist to treat them with respect…

    It is encouraging that the third and current iteration under the CIA is headed by David Kay, which may account for the recent breakthrough in uncovering the uranium-enrichment plans. In regard to other WMDs, Iraq imported or retained over the last several years key pieces of equipment that could not readily be carried off by looters. If located, extensive intrusive sampling with the right test system might tell wonders about Iraq's biological-weapons programs.

    Let there be no doubt, Iraq retained an active biological-weapons program. Unscom had adequate evidence of such. In 1998, presented with the evidence, the leading biological-weapons experts from the U.S., U.K., Russia, France, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Romania and Canada all agreed with the Unscom findings and observations. Incredibly, U.S. and British politicians with little or no knowledge of biological weapons and biological warfare are choosing to believe otherwise.

    (Richard Spertzel was head of the biological-weapons section of UNSCOM.)
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