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Why does Saddam pose an imminent threat?

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted January 27, 2003

During the past few months, there has been much written and discussed by various terrorism experts, journalists, pundits and politicos regarding the subject of Saddam Hussein's rogue regime. But given the complexity of the issues under examination, it's been difficult to convey a clear and coherent message that adequately addresses the imminent peril posed by Saddam Hussein and the need to oust him from power as soon as possible. In order to make the case for war against the current Iraqi regime, it really comes down to two questions that need to be answered in a plain and succinct manner: 1) Which Weapons of Mass Destruction are currently in the hands of the Iraqis, according to our intelligence sources? And, 2) Why does a dictator such as Saddam Hussein, armed with Weapons of Mass Destruction, pose such a threat to the safety and security of other nations?

And the public needs to understand that the process of disarming the Iraqis, pursuant to UN Resolution 1441, places the onus or obligation directly upon the Iraqis to be thoroughly forthcoming and cooperative with UN officials – the Iraqis are responsible to divulge weapons sites and to provide UN inspectors with their prohibited weaponry. This is not supposed to be a game of Hide the Easter Eggs, with 100 arms inspectors searching in vain while they are being systematically thwarting in the efforts by the Iraqi government. In a nation the size of California, it's going to be virtually impossible for arms inspectors to locate forbidden weaponry, which is hidden in a plethora of underground tunnels and bunkers, mobile units, and even in the private residences of the Iraqi citizenry.

As to question #1, please note that there is already myriad information out in the public sphere that addresses the catastrophic weaponry in Saddam Hussein's arsenal. And the following represents just a brief overview and a smattering of the extensive information already available to any individual that chooses to research this subject matter.

Let's start with an excerpt of the superb speech given by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz last week, which provides a brief synopsis of Iraqi weaponry, underscoring our knowledge of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction programs (chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry), obtained through a variety of sources including satellite photos and other high-tech surveillance, in addition to reliable information provided by defectors and garnered by UN weapons inspections over the past twelve years.

Wolfowitz stated: "'Most brazenly of all' -- I'm still quoting Powell – ‘the Iraqi declaration denies the existence of any prohibited weapons programs at all' unquote. Among those omissions are large quantities of anthrax and other deadly biological agents and nuclear-related items that the U.N. Special Commission concluded Iraq had not accounted for. There are also gaps in accounting for such deadly items as 1.5 tons of the nerve gas VX, 550 mustard-filled artillery shells, and 400 biological weapons-capable aerial bombs that the U.N. Special Commission concluded in 1999 -- and this is the U.N.'s conclusion -- Iraq had failed to account for. There is no mention of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad. Iraq fails to explain why it's producing missile fuel that seems designed for ballistic missiles it claims it does not have. There is no information on 13 recent Iraqi missile tests cited by Dr. Blix that exceeded the 150-kilometer limit. There is no explanation of the connection between Iraq's extensive unmanned aerial vehicle program and chemical or biological agent dispersal. There is no information about Iraq's mobile biological-weapons production facilities. And, very disturbingly, Iraq has not accounted for some two tons of anthrax growth media. When U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they concluded, and I quote: ‘The history of the Special Commission's work in Iraq has been plagued by coordinated efforts to thwart full discovery of Iraq's programs' unquote."

The State Department's fact sheet entitled, "Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council" dated 12/19/02, noted below, complements the statements made by Wolfowitz:

Anthrax and Other Undeclared Biological Agents

  • The UN Special Commission concluded that Iraq did not verifiably account for, at a minimum, 2160kg of growth media.
  • This is enough to produce 26,000 liters of anthrax -- 3 times the amount Iraq declared; 1200 liters of botulinum toxin; and, 5500 liters of clostridium perfrigens -- 16 times the amount Iraq declared.
  • Why does the Iraqi declaration ignore these dangerous agents in its tally?

Ballistic Missiles

  • Iraq has disclosed manufacturing new energetic fuels suited only to a class of missile to which it does not admit.
  • Iraq claims that flight-testing of a larger diameter missile falls within the 150km limit. This claim is not credible.
  • Why is the Iraqi regime manufacturing fuels for missiles it says it does not have?

Nuclear Weapons

  • The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.
  • Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?

VX

  • In 1999, UN Special Commission and international experts concluded that Iraq needed to provide additional, credible information about VX production.
  • The declaration provides no information to address these concerns.
  • What is the Iraqi regime trying to hide by not providing this information?

Chemical and Biological Weapons Munitions

  • In January 1999, the UN Special Commission reported that Iraq failed to provide credible evidence that 550 mustard gas-filled artillery shells and 400 biological weapon-capable aerial bombs had been lost or destroyed.
  • The Iraqi regime has never adequately accounted for hundreds, possibly thousands, of tons of chemical precursors.
  • Again, what is the Iraqi regime trying to hide by not providing this information?

Empty Chemical Munitions

  • There is no adequate accounting for nearly 30,000 empty munitions that could be filled with chemical agents.
  • Where are these munitions?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Programs

  • Iraq denies any connection between UAV programs and chemical or biological agent dispersal. Yet, Iraq admitted in 1995 that a MIG-21 remote-piloted vehicle tested in 1991 was to carry a biological weapon spray system.
  • Iraq already knows how to put these biological agents into bombs and how to disperse biological agent using aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Why do they deny what they have already admitted? Why has the Iraqi regime acquired the range and auto-flight capabilities to spray biological weapons?

Mobile Biological Weapon Agent Facilities

  • The Iraqi declaration provides no information about its mobile biological weapon agent facilities. Instead it insists that these are "refrigeration vehicles and food testing laboratories."
  • What is the Iraqi regime trying to hide about their mobile biological weapon facilities?

Summary

  • None of these holes and gaps in Iraq's declaration are mere accidents, editing oversights or technical mistakes: they are material omissions.

As to the Iraqi nuclear program that has been ongoing since the 1980's, a Washington Times article authored by Paul Martin dated 9/16/02 details information provided by Dr. Khidir Hamza, who helped establish and supervise the Iraqi nuclear program before his defection to the West in 1994. The piece states: "But Mr. Hamza said Iraq already has, and is processing some 1.3 tons of low-enriched material bought many years ago from Brazil. He maintained that Iraq has also been processing many tons of its own yellow-cake uranium, which has been extracted from large supplies of phosphates in the north. U.N. inspectors were shown 162 tons of the material before their expulsion in 1998, but Mr. Hamza said there are several other sites that can be used. ‘The amount of uranium it already has — conservatively estimated in a German intelligence report at 10 tons of natural uranium and 1.3 tons of low-enriched uranium — is enough for three nuclear weapons,' Mr. Hamza said. Before their expulsion, the inspectors dismantled an illegally imported German centrifuge that had been used in a program that progressively refines natural or low-enriched uranium until it becomes suitable for weapons. But Mr. Hamza, who was the science adviser to the Atomic Energy Establishment and later helped start and direct Iraq's nuclear weapons program, said by then the ‘cat was out the bag'. He said he suspects the Iraqis have taken advantage of the four years since the inspectors' expulsion to make numerous copies of the original smuggled centrifuge and are busily refining uranium into the necessary material for nuclear bombs."

At the upcoming State of the Union message, hopefully President Bush will reveal more from the intelligence dossier on Iraq -- adding to the abundant damming evidence of Saddam's twelve years of "deception and defiance" and possession of forbidden weaponry.

As to question #2, the President's mission will be to effectively persuade the American people, and all of our allies, that the costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action. And it will be crucial that President Bush pulls everything together in an overall gestalt, creating the "Big Picture" that demonstrates the nexus between terror organizations and rogue regimes that are more than willing to provide Weapons of Mass Destruction to their terrorist proxies.

In my humble opinion, President Bush must make these salient points:

* Iraq has been the only nation to use a Weapon of Mass Destruction in this modern era – Saddam Hussein inflicted chemical warfare upon his own people, the Kurds, and upon the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980's.

* Saddam's evil character is key -- He a monstrous, cold-blooded mass murderer.

* Saddam runs a police-state that engages in atrocious Human Rights violations against his own people.

* The Iraqi intelligence dossier reflects ample evidence that Saddam Hussein continues to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Iraqi regime currently creates chemical and biological weaponry, and will have nuclear warfare in the near future, perhaps a year or so, when it obtains enough fissile materials. If nothing is done to oust Saddam Hussein, than it is virtually inevitable that Iraq will possess nuclear weaponry very soon.

* Saddam Hussein has a history of reckless aggression and lawlessness against neighboring nations. Iraq launched a lengthy war against Iran that led to over a million deaths, invaded Kuwait and was poised to march into Saudi Arabia for control of the entire oil-rich region. Saddam was only stopped by the US-led coalition in 1991.

* Throughout the past twelve years, Saddam has systematically violated UN resolutions, including continually shooting at our aircraft in the "No-Fly Zone".

* Saddam runs a rogue regime that has a significant history of involvement in state sponsored terrorism. He has ties with al-Qaeda, the Abu Nidal group, the Palestinian Liberation Front and Mujahedin-e Khalq, among other terrorist organizations.

* In view of Saddam Hussein's perverse and violent mentality, and his profound hatred of the US particularly because we led the Gulf War coalition and subsequent efforts to contain him, it's clear that Saddam would like nothing better than to target us and our allies.

* Just a few weeks ago, several al-Qaeda operatives were apprehended in Great Britain as they planned attacks with the deadly substance Ricin. And, there have been a host of recent reports that Ricin has been manufactured and tested by al-Qaeda operatives in northern Iraq. It does not take much to connect the dots here.

* Given Saddam's character and his modus operandi, we can assume that he will attempt to use terrorist proxies to carry out assaults against the US and our allies, most notably Great Britain and Israel. Moreover, Saddam would have absolutely no reservations about providing terrorists with Weapons of Mass Destruction, even a nuclear device, if he could obtain one.

* Using terrorists as surrogates to do the "dirty work" provides Saddam Hussein with a certain element of cover and deniability. He will have others do his dirty work.

* Since Iraq represents a dangerous threat to the safety and security of the US and other nations, we will need to oust Saddam Hussein from power. We cannot remain as sitting ducks, as Saddam and his terrorist proxies plan to target us.

Beyond what President Bush will say, the issue of Iraq is obviously a very grave matter since both Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have turned hawkish on the notion of regime change.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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