Saturday, November 30, 2002

Iraq weapons inspections

According to a NYTimes article, Inspectors Find Only Ruins at an Old Iraqi Weapons Site weapons inspections in Iraq have begun, and so far Iraq seems to have been telling the truth.

Amazingly, the inspectors report no hinderances in their inspections.
[...T]he leaders of the inspection teams acknowledged that the Iraqis had placed no impediments in the way of their work.

It is a point much emphasized by Iraqi officials, who have encouraged foreign reporters to follow the inspection teams and roam freely about the plants afterward.

A thorough inspection of the Al Dawrah facility, previously the center of botulism toxin production for Iraq's biological and chemical weapons program, revealed that it was inoperation and had not been used for any purpose, clandestine or veterinary (as the sign outside claims).

At the Al Nasr facility, previously used to produce uranium enriching equipment, "We had no difficulty with access," Mr. Baute said. "We went into every technically significant building." Moreover, although American intelligence suggested that Al Nasr was in active use for production of centrifuges, the inspections revealed otherwise.

Al Nasr was heavily bombed by American and British aircraft after inspections were terminated in 1998, but has since been partly rebuilt. It was identified by American officials in October as one of the weapons sites the Iraqis were putting back into commission, but Mr. Baute said the new building shown in American intelligence photographs appeared to be inactive, at least during today's inspections. "As far as we observed today, it seemed to be very empty."

Even more amazing, the inspectors have found all the equipment they wanted to check. All of the production equipment was either found, or the Iraqi's told the inspectors that they have moved the equipment to another site (which, when later inspected, indeed housed the moved equipment.

Although I don't support attacking Iraq, I conceded that Iraq probably had hidden weapons of mass destruction. However, these recent inspections have swayed my opinion. While I still have doubts, it seems like Iraq might have been honest when they claimed that they abandoned all weapons of mass destruction programs (they are actually encouraging foreign reporters to wander around!).

Or maybe Iraq has all its weapons production capability centralized at one facility, such as the Royal Palace, and they are only hoping to conceal its existence through a false show of honesty...we'll have to find out.


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