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Iraqi 'terror ships' at sea
http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/3453118?source=Evening ^

Posted on 02/19/2003 1:34:10 AM PST by lightsabre

Iraqi 'terror ships' at sea By Patrick McGowan, Evening Standard 19 February 2003 Three huge cargo ships feared to be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are being tracked around the world by British and American intelligence. The vessels, which have been at sea for three months, are believed to be carrying weapons smuggled out through Syria or Jordan. They are all refusing frequent requests to provide details of their cargo or destination and officials are worried that the vessels are maintaining radio silence in clear contravention of maritime law, which states all ships should be in constant communication. Despite grave suspicions of what is on board, Britain and the US are afraid to order interception by naval ships because of fears the crews would scuttle the vessels, each between 35,000 and 40,000 tonnes. If they are carrying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons this could cause catastrophic environmental damage. The vessels have called briefly at a handful of Arab countries, including Yemen, but they have been resupplied at sea with food, fuel and water by other ships. All three were chartered by a shipping agent based in Egypt and are understood to be sailing under three different flags of convenience. The discovery of weapons of mass destruction would be a huge boost to George Bush and Tony Blair and would represent the "smoking gun" they need to justify invading Iraq. However, environmental concerns are preventing boarding of the vessels, whose positions are provided by satellite 24 hours a day. They set sail just a few days after UN inspector Hans Blix returned with his team to Iraq to search for Saddam's weapons arsenal. Iraq is effectively blockaded by US and Royal Navy ships patrolling the Gulf and the three vessels are not thought to have set sail from there. A shipping industry source said: "These ships have maintained radio silence for long periods and for a considerable time they have been steaming round in everdecreasing circles. "If Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction then a very large part of its capability could be afloat on the high seas right now." In the build-up to possible war in Iraq, meanwhile, another huge wave of British troops flew out to the Gulf today. About 1,000 members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, including paratroopers, infantry and support units, left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on three overnight flights. The troops, who are mainly from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, are among the last expected to be deployed to the Gulf region. A group of 180 soldiers were the last to leave at just after 6am today when they boarded a passenger charter jet before heading off to a secret location. They will join around 40,000 other British military personnel who have been sent to the Gulf over the last few weeks in preparation for a possible conflict to disarm Iraq.


TOPICS: Breaking News
KEYWORDS: iraq; warlist
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1 posted on 02/19/2003 1:34:10 AM PST by lightsabre
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To: lightsabre
Paragraphs are our friends!!!!
2 posted on 02/19/2003 1:36:58 AM PST by BullDog108 (delinda est islam)
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To: The Great Satan
To my battle plan add Seal Commando units to board these ships and slit the throat of every creep aboard.
3 posted on 02/19/2003 1:37:31 AM PST by patriciaruth
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To: BullDog108
Iraqi 'terror ships' at sea
By Patrick McGowan, Evening Standard
19 February 2003

Three huge cargo ships feared to be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are being tracked around the world by British and American intelligence. The vessels, which have been at sea for three months, are believed to be carrying weapons smuggled out through Syria or Jordan.

They are all refusing frequent requests to provide details of their cargo or destination and officials are worried that the vessels are maintaining radio silence in clear contravention of maritime law, which states all ships should be in constant communication. Despite grave suspicions of what is on board, Britain and the US are afraid to order interception by naval ships because of fears the crews would scuttle the vessels, each between 35,000 and 40,000 tonnes.

If they are carrying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons this could cause catastrophic environmental damage. The vessels have called briefly at a handful of Arab countries, including Yemen, but they have been resupplied at sea with food, fuel and water by other ships.

All three were chartered by a shipping agent based in Egypt and are understood to be sailing under three different flags of convenience.

The discovery of weapons of mass destruction would be a huge boost to George Bush and Tony Blair and would represent the "smoking gun" they need to justify invading Iraq.

However, environmental concerns are preventing boarding of the vessels, whose positions are provided by satellite 24 hours a day.

They set sail just a few days after UN inspector Hans Blix returned with his team to Iraq to search for Saddam's weapons arsenal. Iraq is effectively blockaded by US and Royal Navy ships patrolling the Gulf and the three vessels are not thought to have set sail from there.

A shipping industry source said: "These ships have maintained radio silence for long periods and for a considerable time they have been steaming round in everdecreasing circles. "If Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction then a very large part of its capability could be afloat on the high seas right now."

In the build-up to possible war in Iraq, meanwhile, another huge wave of British troops flew out to the Gulf today. About 1,000 members of 16 Air Assault Brigade, including paratroopers, infantry and support units, left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on three overnight flights.

The troops, who are mainly from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, are among the last expected to be deployed to the Gulf region.

A group of 180 soldiers were the last to leave at just after 6am today when they boarded a passenger charter jet before heading off to a secret location.

They will join around 40,000 other British military personnel who have been sent to the Gulf over the last few weeks in preparation for a possible conflict to disarm Iraq.

4 posted on 02/19/2003 1:40:00 AM PST by BullDog108 (delinda est islam)
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To: BullDog108
Sorry about that...I'm a relative newbie at this ..I haven't quite got the hang of this cut and paste nonsense..thank you for cleaning up the text!
5 posted on 02/19/2003 1:43:28 AM PST by lightsabre (There will always be an England)
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To: lightsabre
Never, ever, ever do that again young heathen!!
6 posted on 02/19/2003 1:47:11 AM PST by zarf
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To: lightsabre
So they are sailing in circles and we know where the vessels are?
7 posted on 02/19/2003 1:48:43 AM PST by ewing
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To: Mitchell
ping
8 posted on 02/19/2003 2:07:14 AM PST by Allan
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To: lightsabre
 Just sink the damn things !!!

9 posted on 02/19/2003 2:10:29 AM PST by Rain-maker
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To: lightsabre
good article, despite the formatting.

I hadn't run across this bit of info before. thanks.
10 posted on 02/19/2003 2:32:26 AM PST by xzins (Babylon -- you have been weighed in the balance and been found wanting!)
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To: lightsabre
This seems to be an ideal situation for special ops.
11 posted on 02/19/2003 2:32:45 AM PST by kidd
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To: lightsabre
A strikingly similar article was posted here a day or two ago:

Three Mystery Ships are Tracked over Suspected 'Weapons' Cargo

There is also a considerable amount of related info on al Qaeda & Iraqi smuggling in freighters...

12 posted on 02/19/2003 2:34:13 AM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: xzins
see #12
13 posted on 02/19/2003 2:34:59 AM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: lightsabre
This isn't breaking news. There are about 5 or 6 articles all the same as this one on FR.
14 posted on 02/19/2003 3:09:33 AM PST by maquiladora
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To: BullDog108
Three mystery ships are tracked over suspected 'weapons' cargo
independent.co.uk ^ | 2/19/03


Posted on 02/18/2003 4:47 PM PST by knak


Three giant cargo ships are being tracked by US and British intelligence on suspicion that they might be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Each with a deadweight of 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes, the ships have been sailing around the world's oceans for the past three months while maintaining radio silence in clear violation of international maritime law, say authoritative shipping industry sources.

The vessels left port in late November, just a few days after UN weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix began their search for the alleged Iraqi arsenal on their return to the country.


Uncovering such a deadly cargo on board would give George Bush and Tony Blair the much sought-after "smoking gun" needed to justify an attack on Saddam Hussein's regime, in the face of massive public opposition to war.

The ships were chartered by a shipping agent based in Egypt and are flying under the flags of three different countries. The continued radio silence since they left port, in addition to the captains' failure to provide information on their cargoes or their destinations, is a clear breach of international maritime laws.


The vessels are thought to have spent much of their time in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean, berthing at sea when they need to collect supplies of fuel and food. They have berthed in a handful of Arab countries, including Yemen.


American and British military forces are believed to be reluctant to stop and search the vessels for fear that any intervention might result in them being scuttled. If they were carrying chemical and biological weapons, or fissile nuclear material, and they were to be sunk at sea, the environmental damage could be catastrophic.


Washington and London might also want to orchestrate any raids so that they can present the ships as "evidence" that President Saddam is engaged in "material breach" of UN resolutions. This could provide the trigger for military strikes. While security sources in London last night were unable to provide information on any surveillance operation, the movement of the three ships is the source of growing concern among maritime and intelligence experts.

A shipping industry source told The Independent: "If Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction, then a very large part of its capability could be afloat on the high seas right now. These ships have maintained radio silence for long periods and, for a considerable time, they have been steaming around in ever-decreasing circles."

The ships are thought to have set sail from a country other than Iraq to avoid running the gauntlet of Western naval vessels patrolling the Gulf. Defence experts believe that, if they are carrying weapons of mass destruction, these could have been smuggled out through Syria or Jordan.


Despite hundreds of searches by UN inspectors, no evidence has yet been found of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes. A succession of "dossiers" presented by Downing Street has been criticised for providing inaccurate information, with the most recent one subject to ridicule because a student's 11-year-old doctoral thesis was being passed off as current intelligence. There was a further setback for Washington and London when the accuracy of satellite photographs shown to the United Nations by Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, purporting to show Iraqi officials moving incriminating evidence from a suspected site, was questioned by Hans Blix.

Mr Blix said: "The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of an imminent inspection."

Attempts to link the Iraqi regime to al-Qa'ida and other Islamist groups have also been met with scepticism. The UN says, though, that Iraq has failed to account for 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents from the war against Iran; to reveal the whereabouts of 6,500 missing chemical rockets; to produce evidence it has destroyed 8,500 litres of anthrax; and to account for 380 rocket engines smuggled into Iraq with chemicals used for missile propellants and control systems.


Intelligence reports, and some Iraqi defectors, have maintained that incriminating material and documents relating to weapons of mass destruction have been buried in remote parts of the country and have also been hidden in a variety of locations including homes of officials and scientists, as well as mosques. There have also been claims that chemical and biological products have been smuggled into Syria.
15 posted on 02/19/2003 3:09:55 AM PST by timesarechangin
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To: lightsabre
Welcome aboard!
16 posted on 02/19/2003 3:14:36 AM PST by null and void
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To: BullDog108
this strikes me as potentially a very big story.

dep

17 posted on 02/19/2003 3:33:05 AM PST by dep
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To: dep
No kidding. I wonder why it is not more thouroughly broadcast?
18 posted on 02/19/2003 4:10:36 AM PST by BullDog108 (delinda est islam)
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To: lightsabre
ABC Radio News just reported that the ships are off the coast of Iraq, are believed to have a cargo of WMDs, and that we are tracking them ...
19 posted on 02/19/2003 4:42:58 AM PST by Oldeconomybuyer (Let's Roll)
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To: xzins
The article calls them 'huge' or 'giant' cargo ships at 30 - 35000 tonnes. For perspective, and Arleigh-Burke destroyer is about 83 - 8500 tons, a Nimitz is pushing 86,000 tons.

I'm sure the sonic signature for the screws and powerplant is in the computers of several attack boats.
20 posted on 02/19/2003 4:50:52 AM PST by Blueflag
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To: lightsabre
Thanks for the post.

It's easy to start a new paragraph. Just type in < p > at the point where you want the paragraph to begin.

21 posted on 02/19/2003 4:52:45 AM PST by TruthShallSetYouFree
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
There's not a lot of deep water right 'off the coast of Iraq'. I wonder what map ABC 'news' looked at. Any large ship steaming in circles outside the shipping lanes in the Gulf would be very obvious
22 posted on 02/19/2003 5:12:23 AM PST by Blueflag
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To: lightsabre
there is a simple solution...sink them!
23 posted on 02/19/2003 5:16:37 AM PST by thinking
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
This report was headlined on Drudge last night. An article in the British paper Independence was "reporting" on it.
Druge now has no mention of the article.
24 posted on 02/19/2003 5:17:15 AM PST by Republican Red
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To: zarf; lightsabre
Never, ever, ever do that again young heathen!!

Ahrrrrrr!

But good post, though.

25 posted on 02/19/2003 5:25:12 AM PST by Mad_Tom_Rackham
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To: lightsabre
Maybe these ships are going to be Saddam's ticket out...his personal exile convoy.
26 posted on 02/19/2003 5:31:50 AM PST by Eowyn-of-Rohan
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To: Rain-maker
Just sink the damn things !!!

What...and have the environmentalist blame us because of an environmental disaster????

I would rather they trail this until out special op's go in and take it out. Can't wait to see what nations names are on the parts.

27 posted on 02/19/2003 5:52:42 AM PST by mware
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To: mware
There would be no environmental disaster. We have weapons that would vaporize any bio/chem agents that were there. But even if we didn't, the ocean itself would so dilute anything as to render it harmless.

I read about this yesterday in the thread piasa linked. Having slept on the matter, this makes no sense. With all of our missile capabilities, why would these ships essentially just sit there?

IMO, our news organizations are correct to go slow with this story.

28 posted on 02/19/2003 6:14:10 AM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: Blueflag
Hey Blue, you are the naval expert come to think of it.

How could you take these down without polluting the ocean with their stores? Do we really worry if vx or biologics get dumped into the sea...are they even potent in that environment?

Also, any way to burn them with heat rounds setting them afire?

29 posted on 02/19/2003 6:30:55 AM PST by xzins (Babylon -- you have been weighed in the balance and been found wanting!)
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To: lightsabre
I remember in the last couple of days someone on TV commenting on how easy it would to be to sail a terrorist ship up the Hudson river (around NY City) and release an attack.

I found it strange why he would bring this up. Maybe he had this information then.
30 posted on 02/19/2003 6:38:15 AM PST by McGruff (We don't need no stinkin second resolution.)
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To: lightsabre
Can inspectors swim? Just wondering.
31 posted on 02/19/2003 6:39:02 AM PST by mikhailovich
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To: Rain-maker
Just sink the damn things !!!

Then the lefties would insist that Bush produce the proof that there were WMD on the ships. What proof? It would be at the bottom of the ocean. According to them it would be just another right-wing conspiracy to get us into the war.

32 posted on 02/19/2003 6:41:04 AM PST by Library Lady
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To: lightsabre
Very curious indeed. I also wonder how many Syrian, Iranian, Libyan, N Korean and Chinese terror ships are now sailing or can sail soon? Might be scores out there.
33 posted on 02/19/2003 6:45:23 AM PST by Eternal_Bear
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To: Rain-maker
AMEN!!! A couple of Mk. 48 torpedos from one of the SSN's in the region would do the trick. I bet that's how they're tracking these ships in the first place.
34 posted on 02/19/2003 6:47:53 AM PST by txradioguy (HOOAH! Not just a word, A way of life!)
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To: lightsabre
lol - welcome to 'life as we know it' on FR. Thanks for the article - I hadn't seen it.
35 posted on 02/19/2003 6:48:01 AM PST by Frapster (Viva la revolucion... er... I surrender!)
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To: Lion's Cub
the only problem with vaporizing these ships is if they have, Nuke's on board,
that would be a big oops on our part
I would imagine our seals are ready, willing, and able to take care of this job.
36 posted on 02/19/2003 6:59:34 AM PST by vin-one (I wish i had something clever to put in this tag)
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To: lightsabre
Do we have any nukes that need testing? Incineration at sea would seem a comparatively safe course of action.
37 posted on 02/19/2003 7:03:47 AM PST by Uncle Miltie (Islamofascism sucks!)
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To: vin-one
Not necessairily. We could blow the ships without detonating the nukes. They have to have their trigger mechanism activated and torpedoing the ship would not do that. Then when it's been sunk, we simply send in Navy divers to inspect the cargo and determine if anything needs to be removed.
38 posted on 02/19/2003 7:05:47 AM PST by txradioguy (HOOAH! Not just a word, A way of life!)
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To: lightsabre
bump
39 posted on 02/19/2003 7:10:48 AM PST by VOA
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To: txradioguy
well I did know that I was thinking more along the lines of the waste seeping out from
the bottom of the ocean for the next 10,000 years. but then again if it is off the coast of Iraq no big deal.
40 posted on 02/19/2003 7:13:29 AM PST by vin-one (I wish i had something clever to put in this tag)
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To: Rain-maker
Just use nukes, nothing cleans up bugs like nuclear fire.
41 posted on 02/19/2003 7:17:45 AM PST by Dead Dog
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To: vin-one
Well, most of the countries over there still tend to use the Persian Gulf as abig sewer outlet anyway. Who would know the difference if a few more chemicals were added? LOL!
42 posted on 02/19/2003 7:17:51 AM PST by txradioguy (HOOAH! Not just a word, A way of life!)
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To: Oldeconomybuyer
As a former squid I must ask, where is the "coast of Iraq"? Last I checked it was landlocked.
43 posted on 02/19/2003 7:19:42 AM PST by LibertyJihad
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To: LibertyJihad
Iraq has a very small coastline on the Persian Gulf:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/cia02/iraq_sm02.gif
44 posted on 02/19/2003 7:32:12 AM PST by Oldeconomybuyer (Let's Roll)
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To: McGruff
I heard Mazoor Ijaz on FNC the other day...he said that the next attack from el Qaeda might be at US interests in the Pacific like in Singapore...also read here yesterday that Israeli intelligence has predicted a major terrorist attack on Austrailia in the next 2 weeks...wouldn't be surprised if one or more of these ships detonated themselves...

BTW what's this about radio contact?...do we have the right under international law to blow up a ship that won't respond?

45 posted on 02/19/2003 7:35:33 AM PST by foreshadowed at waco
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To: LibertyJihad
...where is the "coast of Iraq"?

They have a little patch of coastline on the Persian Gulf, just north of Kuwait.

46 posted on 02/19/2003 7:36:26 AM PST by JimRed
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To: xzins
Not a naval expert really. Just well-read and, ahem, connected to folks who really know the facts - been there done/doing that.

Best scenario is to seize the vessels in question and commandeer them to a safe offloading point after inspection. Might be a good use for the E-bomb featured on another thread. I understand they make a pretty good flash-bang... Gotta disable the electronics/detonators in case they have a dead-man or doomsday circuit. Gotta kill the perps so they can't manually deploy. Need an assault plan that kills the electronics, kills the ability to manuver the vessel, kills the perps, doesn't rupture any WMD containers. I'm outta my league on the specifics of that mission.

All other scenarios, short of a 1-megaton contact-fused weapon fall short. A 30,000 ton cargo vessel is a mighty robust structure. Add to that the cargo is likely well-protected as well. Water (and all that steel) attentuates the blast and heat effects of a large conventional or small nuke, so I say, go REALLY big, go contact fuse, no airburst (unless it's at 100'). [ remember the Pacific H-bomb tests? Nearby men-of-war were damaged but not sunk. ] Still this is a LAST resort option.

Sinking the vessel with Mk-48s gives the bad guys time to act, even if you hit the ship with a spread of 4-6 wired-guided shots within a span of a few seconds. All you need is some bad guy on the 'phones to call out "high-speed screws, torpedos in the water" and Achmed pushes the buttons. They know they are being tracked, afterall. Launch/detonate on warning is bound to be their orders. (this puts any assault team at risk as well-- die in the sel-destructive martyrs' blasts)

And conventional explosives/ sinking the ships puts accidental release high on the list of likely outcomes

Second scenario is to disable their propulsion when they are mid-ocean and pursue option 1 above

Scuttling in shallow water would seem preferable to deep water, so again, the cargo could eventually be off-loaded.

Scuttling in deep water raises the specter of eventual catastrophic release due to corrosion or pressure rupture.

Anytime you have a large concentration or WMDs, seizure is the best option, followed by 'long' duration plasma-temp incineration. Dispersion by blast is not preferred, 'cuz you may not get it all, and radioactivity is not consumed in a chemical reaction like incineration.

So, the issue is not really that the WMDs are on a ship (allegedly) but that they are concentrated and hidden and could be dispersed or delivered prior to safe seizure or destruction.
47 posted on 02/19/2003 7:40:41 AM PST by Blueflag
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Comment #48 Removed by Moderator

To: lightsabre
Paragraphs are our friends!!!!
As are pictures, bold font, italics, etc.

The journey of HTML begins with the first step. The link below will set you free.
Step briskly now, no pushing, there's room inside for everyone.

Reference HTML Cheatsheet
49 posted on 02/19/2003 7:50:01 AM PST by GalaxieFiveHundred
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To: lightsabre
I little help with my naivette here.

There ARE Iraqi ships, no?

SHOULDN'T the UN Inspectors board them?
50 posted on 02/19/2003 7:58:39 AM PST by Calpernia
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