The Associated Press announced that UNMOVIC inspectors have found dozens of engines from banned al-Samoud 2 (SA2) missiles, which were shipped out of Iraq as “scrap metal.” Most recently, UNMOVIC agents found 20 SA-2 engines in Jordan, along with a great deal of other WMD materials. Officials discovered an identical engine in a Rotterdam port in the Netherlands and believe as many as a dozen extra SA-2 missile engines alone have been transported out of Iraq and remain unaccounted for. Inspectors believe at least some of these engines have also reached Turkey and hope to search Turkish ports in the near future.
UNMOVIC estimates as much as 1,000 tons of scrap metal a day are leaving Iraq bound for foreign shores.
Besides the SA-2 engines, inspectors also found Iraqi “dual use” technology in Jordan, items purportedly employed in civilian affairs that can be used to create or enhance deadly weapons systems. The New York Times noted that among those items were “fermenters, a freeze drier, distillation columns, parts of missiles and a reactor vessel - all tools suitable for making biological or chemical weapons.”
UN spokesman Ewen Buchanan put the threat of “dual use” technology into perspective. “You can make all kinds of pharmaceutical and medicinal products with a fermenter,” Buchanan said. “You can also use it to breed anthrax.”
Before the war, Saddam’s regime cast its possession of “dual use” materials in the most innocent light, a ruse familiar to students of the Cold War. UNMOVIC wisely rejected his sunny assessment.
Today, UNMOVIC inspectors are deeply concerned about the possibility of WMD proliferation. A Reuters news story captures their distress:
‘A number of sites which contained dual-use equipment that was previously monitored by UN inspectors has [sic.] been systematically taken apart,’ said Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the New York-based inspectors. ‘The question this raises is what happened to equipment known to have been there.
‘Where is it now? It's a concern,’ Buchanan asked.
‘The existence of missile engines originating in Iraq among scrap in Europe may affect the accounting of proscribed engines known to have been in Iraq's possession,’ UNMOVIC said.
The report said the U.N. inspectors also found papers showing illegal contracts by Iraq for a missile guidance system, laser ring gyroscopes and a variety of production and testing equipment not previously disclosed.
Many of the “dual use” components UNMOVIC found in foreign ports had been previous tagged by UN inspectors in Iraq before the war. And transfers are taking place rapidly. During his presentation, Perricos showed the Security Council a picture of a fully developed missile site in May 2003 that had been entirely torn down by February of this year.
Perricos’ June 9 testimony is made all the more credible by the fact that he is hardly a neo-con stalwart. USA Today described his mindset just three months ago: “Demetrius Perricos, acting head of the United Nations weapons inspection program, can't disguise his satisfaction that almost a year after the invasion of Iraq, U.S. inspectors have found the same thing that their much-maligned UN counterparts did before the war: no banned weapons.” Today, Perricos’ smile has disappeared.
(It should be noted that Perricos was honest enough to say the Iraqis were dragging their feet in destroying banned missiles just a month before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. He said at the time that Saddam viewed a partial and halting disarmament as a “way by which the possibility of war is being further avoided.” He added: “I cannot tell whether he genuinely believes in the inspection process or not.” Evidently, the fact that Saddam expelled all UN inspectors during the Clinton administration wasn’t a clue to the UN’s Sherlock Holmes.)
These revelations came during a closed meeting of the UN Security Council held last Wednesday, June 9. However, the investigations are not new. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) launched its own probe into Iraqi WMD transfers a full six months ago, when a Dutch scrap metal company discovered five pounds of yellowcake uranium ore in Rotterdam. The sample was shipped from Jordan but Jordanian officials said the metal originated in Iraq. (Perhaps this is the yellowcake that atomic sleuth Amb. Joe Wilson insisted Iraq never purchased from Niger.) IAEA Director Mohammed El Baradei warned two months ago that evidence of Saddam’s WMDs is being shipped abroad.
Jordan has been the recipient of Iraqi WMDs in the past. Most recently, Jordan seized 20 tons of chemical weapons while foiling an al-Qaeda plot to kill 80,000 people. The stockpile they uncovered contained 70 different kinds of chemical agents, including Sarin and VX gas. (Remember, last month Iraqi insurgents lobbed two chemical weapons at U.S. troops armed with Sarin and mustard gas.)
On April 17, Jordanian King Abdallah claimed these poisons came from Syria – but experts say Syria only has the capacity to produce small amounts of these weapons, not the 20 tons al-Qaeda possessed. Significantly, David Kay and others have said Syria acted as a depository for Saddam’s WMDs. Former Justice Department official John Loftus has made a compelling case that even more WMDs are presently buried in Syria. And these are merely the latest in a long line of WMD discoveries, inside Iraq and out.
You may be forgiven if this is news to you: The mainstream media have chosen to ignore or downplay the significance of the UN’s vindication of President Bush’s policies. In fact, the predictably left-leaning Reuters news service blamed these WMD shipments…on America. Reuters wrote that “the U.S.-led occupation force” had not adequately “protected sites or items that inspectors tagged before the war because of their potential use in weapons of mass destruction.”
Apparently, one must live in Australia to get the truth. The Sunday Times’ headline? “UN uncovers banned weapons.”
The discovery of banned WMD engines should forever silence those who believe Saddam had no stockpile of weapons, or that all such stockpiles were destroyed before the war. Saddam gassed his own people. He had WMDs that miraculously ended up in the hands of Jordanian al-Qaeda terrorists. And now we find his pre-war armory of chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax agents, is being shipped around the world. The fact that these transfers have taken place in an independent Iraq should only reinforce the righteousness of toppling Saddam. In a post-Saddam Iraq, these weapons are being found in shipyards in the Netherlands and Jordan; had Saddam stayed in power, more and more of them may have ended up in the hands of Osama bin Laden. UNMOVIC’s finding is simply further evidence that Operation Iraqi Freedom was justified – and the opposition was willfully ignorant of the threat Saddam Hussein posed to American security.