Skip to comments.A web of weapons deception (MUST READ)
Posted on 09/24/2002 1:49:04 AM PDT by MadIvan
The biggest threat posed by Saddam Hussein is his continued ability to generate biological and chemical weapons - and to conceal this in a giant web of deception.
There is a real threat from chemical weapons, and a longer term one from nuclear bombs and missiles, but these are not the prime worry for London and Washington.
Iraq's forces still have potent weapons for delivering biological and chemical warheads such as the Scud B missiles used against Saudi Arabia and Israel during Desert Storm in 1991 and the longer range Al Hussain missile fired against Iran in the Gulf war from 1980 to 1988.
Since 1991 a new al-Abbas missile has been developed with a range of more than 550 miles - as against the 190 miles of the Scud B and 400 miles of the Al Hussain missile.
Most of the functioning missile sites are now believed to be around Baghdad at Qa Qaa, Yawm al Azim, Taj al Marik and Thu al Fiqar. This would mean that the capitals of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Turkey would be in range of the new missiles.
Many military bases and plants for developing biological and chemical weapons were destroyed by bombing in Desert Storm in 1991, and in Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, the four-day bombing campaign by American and British aircraft following Saddam's expulsion of UN inspectors.
The main research centre for chemical weapons known as Samurra was severely damaged in 1991, and is believed to have been inactive since 1997. The main chemical weapons station identified as active by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in its recent report is at Fallujah III outside Baghdad.
It is also thought to be a base for work on biological agents and toxins - the most dangerous items now active in Saddam's arsenal. They are also thought to be held at Mohammediyat and Daura, west and south of the capital.
The Iraqi military is believed to have stocks of anthrax, botulinum, aflatoxin Trichotecenes, plague and smallpox.
These can be delivered by highly unusual means - such as unmanned light airplanes equipped with crop-spraying nozzles.
Does this remind anyone else of something we've seen? - Ivan
It is feared that a desperate Saddam would order animals infected with anthrax or foot and mouth to be dumped into the Tigris and Euphrates, causing huge environmental damage - retreating armies set fire to oil wells in Kuwait causing billions of dollars of damage on the upper shores of the Gulf.
One nightmare scenario is that saboteurs could release biological agents in suicide attacks in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or even European capitals.
The biggest unknown is to assess Saddam's intentions as well as his opportunities to wreak havoc among his enemies in one last desperate stand.
For the Prime Minister and the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, much of the dossier released today will be old news as they get regular updates on the situation of Iraq and its neighbours through the Joint Intelligence Committee.
However, some crucial details of the threat assessment on Saddam will have been held back for fear of blowing the cover on the few human intelligence sources - spies - working for the UK and US inside Iraq.
Many old intelligence hands are surprised that Tony Blair has been prepared to disclose as much as he has.
Don't I remember hearing that Mohammed Atta was interested in crop dusters? I don't think he got this idea independently--I bet it came from discussions with Iraqi sources, just as I suspect that the FBI is barking up the wrong (American) tree in its anthrax investigation.
You would think this a cause for alarm.
Personally, I have no doubt there's a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, but the only way we'll have evidence is by throwing Iraq open to the light of day. Hussein is not developing weapons of defense -- he's breeding catastrophe, and that alone should be sufficient to signal his intentions.
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