Tags: WMD | Furor | Academic | Says | Iraqi | General

WMD Furor Academic Says Iraqi General

Tuesday, 10 June 2003 12:00 AM

Saeed’s latest pronouncements on the WMD dilemma dovetail after a fashion with National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice’s current TV news show pitch that Iraq may have had a baseline production system for chemical weapons capable of "just-in-time" delivery operations. Her theory is that the dictator maintained a barebones, hard to discover production line that could be ramped up within weeks -- a scheme that would leave a minimal footprint on the ground for the Coalition to discover.

As to why Saddam would ditch ready stocks for this just-in-time alternative can be answered two ways, according to Saeed. The first is there wasn’t a lot of choice in the eleventh hour. Second, explained the former brigadier, is the volatile quality of some of the substances themselves. For instance, he explained, Iraq’s VX nerve gas was low grade and not stable. “It deteriorated within a week. To be useful it should have a shelf life of two years.” Not much of a strategic sacrifice to ditch stocks of VX that had lost deadly punch.

As to the nature of these poised underground production lines, Saeed admitted, “We [Muthanna] were completely away from the ‘forbidden program,’” his term for the clandestine network charged with maintaining Saddam’s chemical weapons clout – through U.N. inspections and even U.S. invasion and occupation.

“We knew the Mukhabarat had small laboratories around Baghdad but not where or what they were doing,” Saeed said. “They couldn’t have been producing anything, as I know all the top scientists and we would have known.”

But according to the Times, yet another Iraqi general revealed that the forbidden program was indeed alive and well in the form of small secret laboratories in the basements of houses in Baghdad. “After 1996-97 the personnel was changed and we had small teams of just three or four people,” the general said.

As to whether even these last ditch small labs were ever productive, the Times source qualified, “I challenge any American or Briton to find anything in Iraq today. It was all just theory.”

The current issue of the National Review, however, discusses yet another theory -- Iraq moved all of its illegal weapons to Syria. Review reprises what Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser of Israeli intelligence told the Knesset last October -- Iraq was moving WMDs into and building facilities in Syria.

What this means is that the smoking gun may not be on or under the ground in Iraq. A senior American officer told Review that the U.S. needs to closely investigate whether Iraq was paying for a Syrian WMD program with the notion of importing it after the smoke cleared. Reportedly, scientists in Coalition hands have disclosed that researchers and facilities were moved to Syria. However, there has been no official confirmation of these reports.

In the meantime, the 75th Exploitation Task Force, has had little success in finding evidence of WMD, looking most recently for mass graves and other spoor of Saddam’s brutality instead.

The Task Force reportedly will be replaced by the Iraq Survey Group, a new team of 1,200 inspectors and hundreds more allied personnel headed by Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton of the Defense Intelligence Agency. According to Review, a senior member of the group said, “It’s just a matter of poking a nose into the right hole. Eventually we will find the right hole.”

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Saeed's latest pronouncements on the WMD dilemma dovetail after a fashion with National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice's current TV news show pitch that Iraq may have had a baseline production system for chemical weapons capable of "just-in-time" delivery operations. Her...
WMD,Furor,Academic,Says,Iraqi,General
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2003-00-10
Tuesday, 10 June 2003 12:00 AM
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