Tuesday, November 15, 2005

WMD Refresher

Reading the UNMOVIC report for 2005 and 2003 reports from UNMOVIC, it's no wonder we went to war and, frankly, even knowing what we allegedly know now, I'd still support it. I've never seen so much "they had this", "this was the quantity declared", "this was reported destroyed", "we can't account for the rest", "this was not declared in 1991", "this was declared in 1995 aftre Hussain Kamal defected", "this plant was declared as dual use", "this was still going on", "we can't confirm the destruction", "Iraq admitted to moving previously accounted for destroyed munitions from this site to that in order to make up for the unaccounted for missiles/biological/chemical/weapon/materials/equipment/etc, etc, etc so inspectors would believe the product was destroyed; we don't know where the unaccounted for things are".

It's always good to refresh the memory regarding the details. Although, I admit that it was giving me a headache by page 100. The assessments were particularly alarming in the March 2003 document. They are still alarming because certain information supports the claim that Iraq did have dual use equipment and facilities. Even the 2005 last quarter document has some information regarding Iraq's attempts (some successful) to hide materials, equipment and actual weapons from the inspection process that I had only vaguely heard about.

From the 2005 report, last quarter:

In particular the detection of the conversion of a legitimate biological facility for biological warfare purposes turned out to be especially difficult since such activities took place only for a short period of time, and the site required only minor adjustments for the production of a biological warfare agent. While modern analytical and detection techniques have advanced significantly in recent years, so too have advancements in technology which could make detection much more difficult, such as “clean-in-place” capabilities and disposable production systems, thus presenting new challenges for the future. [snip]

If a deception campaign is actively pursued, the probability of finding hard evidence of activities related to biological warfare is minimized. An important technical tool that could have helped to identify such facilities is extensive forensic sampling and analysis. Iraq was well aware of the possibility of inspectors taking samples and tried to remove any traces of the agent by thorough decontamination of the facilities. (page 14)[snip]

The account of the United Nations verification indicates that, under a comprehensive and intrusive international inspection regime, Iraq could not completely hide its biological weapons programme. Although it has not been possible to answer satisfactorily all outstanding questions concerning Iraq’s biological weapons programme, such as total quantities of bulk agents produced, weaponized and destroyed, and the disposition of all biological seed stocks, etc., the inspectors were able to discover evidence of a programme larger than had been declared by Iraq and to develop effective lines of investigation that led Iraq to eventually admit the bulk production of biological warfare agents.(page 15)

Reading the entire report would help people understand how Iraq really did retain the ability to quickly and easily reconstitute their programs once sanctions were lifted. Even during sanctions, via the report, Saddam was able to obtain certain fermentation and drying equipment, essentially to develop veternarian vaccines, but then transferred the equipment to al Hakam for biological weapons creation that was not even discovered until 1995. It was only discovered because Hussain Kamal defected and told us.

A little more on the "hide and seek" of WMD from the March 6, 2003 report:

Many of the facilities and storage sites associated with Iraq’s WMD programmes were destroyed during the war[ed...Gulf War I]. Thus, for example, many thousands of chemical bombs and rockets were destroyed, as were the main production plants at Al Muthanna and Al Fallujah. Similarly, the main missile engineering facilities were also destroyed. However, some WMD factories escaped destruction during the war including some nuclear facilities and most of the BW facilities. Furthermore, some equipment at plants that were subject to bombing survived because it had previously been evacuated to safe locations. For example, some of the CW [ed...chemical weapons]bomb making equipment was stored at a sugar factory at Mosul during the war.

Something that probably made the president say, "hmmmm", page 11 and 12:

Four years [ed...1998-2003]without inspection is a significant period. Given the history of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes (see Appendix), Iraq potentially could have made considerable advancements in that time, particularly in the biological and chemical fields. For example, within a period of about three years, Iraq built most of its chemical weapons plant at Al Muthanna and went into large-scale production of a variety of CW agents and munitions. And it took just two years to build its BW production plant at Al Hakam and produce over 27,000 litres of BW agent. Plants of such a size would of course be easy to detect, but they could also be disguised as dual purpose plants now producing some civilian product.

How soon we forget.

Update: See the May 2003 report for post invasion information on existing weapons. What I found interesting was the difference in tone from the pre-invasion alarmist language to the post invasion "well, we think we have it figured out now". Of course they did. Not because the inspections pre-invasion were brilliant and only in need of good analysis, but because UNMOVIC inspectors now had full, unrestricted access to information.

What a difference transparency makes.

I will point out an obvious fact from this post invasion report and that is that several projects that Saddam had going on, particularly for missiles, were prohibited and the pre and post invasion reports hint at the OFF scandal to come.

Update 2: Going along with the previous "are the Democrats that naive and stupid" question, Hitchens Hits One Out of the Park:

Not only do the liberal Democrats apparently want their own congressional votes from 1998 and 2002 back. It sometimes seems that they are actually nostalgic for the same period, when Saddam Hussein was running Iraq, and there were no coalition soldiers to challenge his rule, and when therefore by definition there was peace, and thus things were more or less OK. Their current claim to have been fooled or deceived makes them out, on their own account, to be highly dumb and gullible. But as dumb and gullible as that?

(hat tip Egyptian Sandmonkey)

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