I have read a good deal about the Al Qaaqa explosives story over the last couple of days. The piece that struck the strongest chord with me was written for written for The American Thinker by Douglas Hanson. This is a subject which Hanson is qualified to comment upon. In the summer of 2003 he served as the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology for the Coalition Provisional Authority. His piece springs out of the whole missing explosives story, focusing on the role of the IAEA, but it goes a long way toward showing how wrong John Kerry is.
In one of the debates (I’m not sure which since they have all kind of blended together into one mass of talking points and I have no deisre to go back through the transcripts to separate them) Kerry said that the inspections were working, that Saddam was contained, and that we should have allowed inspections to continue.
Here is Hanson’s account of how well the inspections were working.
The first shots were fired by the IAEA at the US and the Coalition last July when approximately two tons of low-enriched uranium were shipped out of the Iraqi nuclear research facility at Al-Tuwaitha for disposition in the US. The IAEA was upset that the US and the Iraqi government had failed to notify the UN about the shipment. Apparently, the UN failed to note that the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology had been established by Ambassador Paul Bremer over a year earlier, and, with US assistance, had begun to take stock of the materials at the site.
The Coalition and the Iraqi scientists had to deal with an extraordinary amount of yellowcake uranium and other radioactive source materials that totaled approximately 800 tons. How the stockpile of low-enriched uranium was found is not publicly known. What is known is that the IAEA allowed Saddam and his scientists to retain hundreds of tons of nuclear raw material, supposedly monitored by the UN and under “IAEA seal and control.” Left unexamined was the rationale allowing the Iraqis to keep this massive stockpile, since both of the Iraqi reactors and the Italian-built enrichment facility had been destroyed and never repaired.
So Hussein had a large stockpile of nuclear material for which he had no purpose. Did he just like having it around or did he have plans for it? Why the IAEA let Saddam keep the stuff is a question that has yet to be answered.
Explain to me, Senator Kerry, how the inspections were working.
There are of course clues as to what Saddam had in mind for all that yellowcake.
The next incident occurred earlier this month, when the UN raised another fuss after they found out from satellite photos (who provided these photos?) that a substantial amount of dual-use equipment was “missing” from the Al-Tuwaitha complex. Dual-use equipment is that which can be used for peaceful purposes and for use in manufacturing weapons. In this case, the UN was clearly concerned about equipment that could be used to enrich raw nuclear material for use in a reactor or a nuclear warhead. This meant that the IAEA had detailed inventories and annotated overhead images to compare the pre-war and post-war layouts and configuration of the research site. The IAEA had supposedly accounted for and “sealed” both the raw material and the facilities required to turn that material into fuel for a nuclear bomb.
So Saddam had the yellowcake and the equipment to enrich it and the IAEA left it intact in Iraq.
Explain to me again, Senator Kerry, how the inspections were working.
But it does not end there. Now from the IAEA we get the story of 380 tons of missing high explosives. That we don’t know when and how the material was removed from Al Qaaqa is about the only relevant fact to the story. The description of the explosives has always been very interesting. It is always noted how little of the stuff it would take to bring down a passenger jet, and it always noted that it can be used to detonate a nuclear bomb. And what did the IAEA do about 380 tons of explosives that could be used to trigger a nuclear bomb? They inspected it and left it sitting in Iraq.
What was that about the inspections working, Senator Kerry?
Let’s not forget that at the outset of the war we discovered missiles that had capabilities well beyond the limits established by the Gulf War cease-fire agreement. Remember also the Deulfer report highlighting the high-level corruption rampant in the U.N. Food For Oil program and how Saddam was lining the pockets of those he thought could help lift the sanctions against Iraq. How long after that event would it have been before the IAEA seals were broken and the yellowcake found its way to the dual-use equipment?
I’m sorry, Senator Kerry, did you say the inspections were working?