Originally Published 2003-11-11 07:11:59 Published on Nov 11, 2003
Bush Blair duo is finding it extremely difficult to justify the invasion of Iraq to the world in general and to their local constituency in particular. The United States military has been unable to locate WMDs in Iraq in spite its best efforts. This has led the entire world to believe that the war was an unjust war.
Witch hunting for WMDs in Iraq
Bush Blair duo is finding it extremely difficult to justify the invasion of Iraq to the world in general and to their local constituency in particular. The United States military has been unable to locate WMDs in Iraq in spite its best efforts. This has led the entire world to believe that the war was an unjust war. The duo is facing problems at domestic front also because of their over dependence on the 'sexed up' intelligence inputs.

Controversy has been raging in the United States, Britain and Australia over accusations that those governments manipulated intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify the war with no evidence yet found of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. The situation has become more complicated because of the report submitted by David Kay, the chief U.S. weapons searcher mentioning that no weapons of mass destruction have been found yet.

During this entire episode the only death that has taken place due to the weapons of mass destruction is that of a British scientist David Kelly. The investigations are being carried out on whether the Bush, Blair and John Howard administrations had deliberately hyped up the threat posed by Iraq's chemical and biological weapons. It is being argued that the intelligence inputs were presented in a distorted fashion to make a strong case against Iraq. The war was fought on a skewed analysis carried out to fit a political agenda. Many are convinced that even though Saddam was a bad guy but he had no weapons posing a "real and present danger".

Americans are finding it difficult to locate the missing weapons in such a 'short' period of time and unfortunately during prewar period they wanted the UN inspectors to do the same job in a 'shorter' time. The state of art technology has not helped them yet to catch Saddam Hussein and there exists a danger of he turning into folklore like Osama bin Laden. On the other side the small controversies like Jessica Lynch case is damaging their reputation further. They are finding it hard to fight an Urban War. Most importantly under this backdrop the entire world is taking a stand: "we told you so".

Because of such anti-US sentiments all over the world, there exists a danger of loosing raison d'être while analyzing the significance of recent David Key report on WMDs in Iraq. Even though his team has not found any weapons of mass destruction but still was able to identify some leading evidence towards the Saddam's WMD programme.

Weapons hunters in Iraq are following leads that point to the presence of anthrax research and Scud missiles still hidden in the country. Kay reported that searchers discovered "reference strains" of biological organisms (non-weapon quality) in the home of a scientist. The survey team did find a vial of live botulinum bacteria that had been stored in an Iraqi scientist's refrigerator since 1993. The bacteria can be used to make botulinum toxin, which can be used as a bioweapon.

The same scientist was asked by the authorities to hide another much larger cache of strains (anthrax) but after a couple of days he turned them back because they were too dangerous to be stored in an unprotected environment. This catch is still missing. Anthrax was the Saddam Hussein's biological weapon of choice.

Also, Kay and his team are suspicious that some WMD personnel could have crossed borders during the pre/trans conflict period and may have taken evidence and even weapons-related materials with them. Even the bulkiest materials related to bioweapons could be concealed in spaces not much larger than a two-car garage. And to pinpoint exact those two garages in a vast country like Iraq is definitely not an easy job.

Unfortunately, anti-war hysteria and anti-American stands have eclipsed sensible debate on this topic. Also America's partial behaviour towards Israel, Bush/Blair's theatrics and Donald Rumsfeld's ever-changing interpretations about Iraq's WMD stores have compounded the problem further and diluted the concern about the WMDs.

This is a very dangerous sign. In all probability, America had overreacted over Iraq situation. But this in no way justifies the logic that the Iraq is free of WMDs. America went ahead with war based on deductive inferences, what is needed now is the empirical inferences and from this point of view Kay's report needs to be analyzed.

It appears that those mysterious bio-warfare labs, which were initially discarded as hydrogen making things for balloons, were actually designed for the production of biological weapons. The evidence gathered so far by the Iraq search group (ISG) implies that the Iraq's nuclear weapons programme was dormant. Its chemical and biological weapons programs were probably geared to support rapid production capabilities rather than maintaining active stockpiles. It is argued by many that during a decade of inspection regimes it must not have been possible to maintain a covert agency to undertake research, development and production of nuclear and chemical weapons because of the massive infrastructure requirements. Hence in all probability Iraq must have continued with its work on bioweapons and now Americans are finding it difficult to locate them because of their size. But still Kay is short of empirical evidence.

As per Kay's report, many documents and computer hard disks related to bioweapons were destroyed during and after the war. One Iraqi who cooperated with the ISG was assassinated and a second took six bullets. This man was one of the ISG's most important informants on BW activities. The Kay report leaves no doubt that Saddam Hussein was in violation of Resolution 1441, Iraq's "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations."

ISG personal are yet to find long-range Scud missiles, which were used during 1991. However, they have received proofs that Scud missile fuel, which is only useful in Scud missiles, was manufactured till 2002, so naturally the Scud arsenal existed. Till now the ISG has only examined ten stores out of approximately 130 Iraqi Ammunition Storage points. Hence still a lot needs to be done. Also the United States military has been unable to locate a large number of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles about which documentary evidence is available. This disappearance is compounding the security risks for airports and airlines in Iraq and around the world.

The report also mentions about the allied contacts with North Korea to obtain the missile technology. The design plans for the missiles capable of flying up to 1,000 kilometers - well beyond the 150-km range limit set by the United Nations are also found. Investigators have also found evidence to suggest Saddam Hussein was trying to revive a nuclear weapons programme at the most rudimentary level.
The ISG inspectors have found significant amounts of equipment and weapons-related activities - all of which were concealed from UN inspectors. Under these circumstances it is difficult to draw the conclusions immediately. It appears that the ISG may be able to provide full picture of Iraq's WMD only after six to eight months. So far they have succeeded in proving that Saddam had deceived the international community and violated UN security resolutions.

Since the war is over, it is now only of academic interest to know whether it was a 'just war' or not. What is important to know is, that, if Saddam had WMDs then has he succeeded in passing them off to rogue states and terrorist groups including those who are presently causing trouble in Baghdad. The available circumstantial evidence regarding WMDs could be treated as 'debris from the past' or 'tips of the iceberg'; it entirely depends on which side one wants to take. Unfortunately, the world expects the Americans to be right always without realizing that the terrorist has to be right only once.

The author is a defence analyst. The views expressed are his own.
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