NBC Weapons: September 25, 2003

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There has been much talk about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the inability to find stocks of such weapons, or production facilities. What is generally lost in all this is the fact that the most dangerous aspect of Iraq's weapons program was the scientific and technical people Iraq had to build these weapons, and all that oil money they possessed to buy the relatively simple and widely available industrial equipment needed to make the weapons. All the major chemical and biological weapons can be made using equipment that normally produces agricultural, medical, food or other non-lethal products. Since 1991, the Iraqis had built up an extensive network of agents in industrial countries to arrange for the purchase and shipment of illegal (for Iraq) manufacturing equipment. All of this is no more. Coalition troops have rounded up and interrogated all the key Iraqi WMD scientists. Most have been let go, as it was clear they were working under duress. There's no longer an Iraq that is providing space and money for the production of WMD. 

That said, it was always a mystery to UN arms inspectors as to why Saddam refused to get rid of his weapons and allow thorough inspections to prove it (and thus lift the UN embargo). Everyone in the WMD business knew that Iraq would have had no problem quickly (within a year) rebuilding the chemical and biological weapons production capability. Nuclear weapons would take longer, but not much. With the UN embargo lifted, Saddam would have been free to be as scary as he wanted to be. Apparently, he did destroy his WMD, but did not want to admit it lest he be seen as weak by, well, all sorts of people. Another theory was that Saddam feared the inspectors would find documents relating to the atrocities he and the Baath Party committed against Iraqis. Kuwaitis and foreigners. This sort of stuff has been found since the Baath was driven out of power. While the UN never tried to indict Saddam for crimes against humanity, if too much evidence fell into UN hands, they would have been forced to do so.

Now Saddam has lost everything, and is very weak. But anyone with the technically qualified people (scientists and engineers, which Iraq has plenty of), lots of money and some place safe from interference (from arms inspectors, American Rangers, Etc.), can also create WMD quickly. For those of evil intent, that's almost has good as having the WMD in a warehouse.


 


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