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Chemical Weapons Found in Iraq

from the June 27, 2006 eNews issue

The current administration has received a great deal of criticism for its inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Pre-war intelligence has been called into question and mainstream news media reports state that no weapons have been found. However a recently declassified Defense Department report indicates that the United States has uncovered more than 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003. The report indicates that not only have weapons been discovered in Iraq, but that more weapons exist. It also stated that some weapons could have been sold on the black market. Furthermore, the possibility that these weapons could be used outside of Iraq could not be ruled out.

The Defense Department report is not the first proof of Saddam's illicit weapons program. Unfortunately, such evidence has been overlooked, minimized, and even buried by the news media.

The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) has found "hundreds of cases of activities that were prohibited" under UN Security Council resolutions. The ISG reported to Congress that the evidence they had found on the ground in Iraq showed Saddam's regime was in "material violation" of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which promised "serious consequences" if Iraq did not make a complete disclosure of its weapons programs and dismantle them in a verifiable manner. According to the ISG, Iraq had "a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses with equipment that was suitable to continuing its prohibited chemical- and biological-weapons programs." As well as prohibited, long-range, ballistic, and scud missile programs, and even equipment for uranium-equipment centrifuges.

Stockpiles of pesticides and chemical agents that can be used to produce chemical weapons have been found, but critics argue those chemicals could be used for commercial and agricultural purposes, however that does not explain why the chemicals were found camouflaged in military bunkers six feet under the ground. The 4th Infantry Division found 55-gallon drums containing a substance identified through mass spectrometry analysis as cyclosarin - a nerve agent. Other tests identified the chemicals as pesticides, but nearby were surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, gas masks and a mobile laboratory that could have been used to mix chemicals at the site. There is no doubt that Saddam had a weapons of mass destruction program, much of which was paid for with profits from oil smuggling and deals made through the UN oil-for-food program.

Prior to the war Iraq openly admitted it had produced at least 3.9 tons of VX poison gas, the deadliest nerve agent ever created, but never disclosed its location. According to government officials the VX gas could be stored in a facility the size of a garage, and when hidden in an area the size of the state of California, it is no wonder it has yet to be found. It is also important to remember, that when dealing with chemical weapons, a small amount of toxin can cause tremendous damage. For example, VX is a clear, colorless liquid the consistency of motor oil. A fraction of a drop of VX, absorbed through the skin, can kill by severely disrupting the nervous system. Although a cocktail of drugs can serve as an antidote, VX acts so quickly that victims would have to be injected with the antidote almost immediately to have a chance at survival. Similarly, one hundred milligrams of the nerve agent sarin - about one drop - can kill the average person in a few minutes if he or shes not given an antidote. Experts say sarin is more than 500 times as toxic as cyanide.

Saddam Hussein not only possessed weapons of mass destruction, he employed them on more than one occasion. For example, Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds in northern Iraq during a 1987-88 confrontation known as the Anfal campaign. The worst attack occurred in March 1988 in the Kurdish village of Halabja. A combination of chemical agents including mustard gas, sarin, and possibly VX killed 5,000 people and left 65,000 others facing severe skin and respiratory diseases, abnormal rates of cancer and birth defects, and a devastated environment. Experts say Saddam also launched about 280 smaller-scale chemical attacks against the Kurds. During that same time period Iraqi soldiers rounded up more than 100,000 Kurds, mostly men and boys, and executed them.

The acquisition of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons by both terrorists and rogue nations is perhaps one of the greatest threats to our national security. Some may argue that our invasion of Iraq was not justified because pre-war intelligence was flawed. However the evidence clearly shows that such a conclusion is an over-simplified distortion of the truth.


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