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Can we back up
by Jim Babka
Claim #1: One of our radio ads asserts that Hussein has no nuclear weapons, or other weapons of mass destruction. How do we support this claim? And what if he acquires these weapons in the future?
First, we need to get our terms straight. According to the U.S. military, "weapons of mass destruction" are:
[W]eapons that are capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people. Can be nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, but excludes the means of transporting or propelling the weapon where such means is a separable and divisible part of the weapon.
But that's a recently revised definition. According to nuclear physicist Dr. J. Gordon Prather, even a few years ago this wasn't the case. Prather thinks the change in definition is ridiculous. As he explains in his article, Cardboard Safety, there's no history of weapons being imported from the terrorist cell countries—they're always homemade near the target site. And with good reason, the cost and logistics involved in moving these weapons are considerable. It's a whole lot easier to obtain the ingredients—even, scarily enough, the completed weapon—right here in the U.S.
But let's assume that Prather is completely wrong about how terrorist weapons get to their terrible destinations. As of February 14, 2003, no evidence has been presented to the UN that substantiates any claim that Iraq has WMDs. In fact, the weapons inspectors themselves believe they've done a good job, despite the fact that the U.S. government has repeatedly sent them on wild goose chases. If the inspectors on the ground don't trust the leads they're being given by the U.S. government, why should we?
Regarding nuclear weapons, Iraq has tried to develop them in the past and failed, and has scant chances of succeeding in the future.
The Israelis destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactors in the 1980s and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has closed loopholes that might have allowed Iraq to acquire fissionable material by other means. UN weapons inspections provide the final protection (more on this point below).
Iraq did obtain a blueprint for building a Highly-Enriched-Uranium bomb (HEU), but according to the IAEA they were never able to produce more than a few kilograms of HEU! With this in mind let's consider a direct quote from President Bush:
If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year… Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud (October 7, 2002 in a speech at Cinncinati, Ohio).
Notice the President's use of the word "softball." Doesn't sound like much does it? It sounds easy to acquire doesn't it? But it isn't. Remember, the most HEU Iraq was ever able to produce was a few kilograms. And the only other source for that much HEU would be from rogue countries that already have nuclear weapons.
But if Bush seriously fears that possibility why isn't he disarming those countries instead? The most obvious answer is that deterrence is a safer way to keep countries such as Pakistan and North Korea in line.
[Deterrence is the threat of retaliation if a country does something aggressive. Deterrence takes advantage of a ruler's natural interest in self-preservation to secure the peace with little risk and no additional cost. For more about the superiority of deterrence see Claim #7.]
Thus President Bush's supposed fears about nuclear weapons are not credible. Additionally, a defector from the Iraqi nuclear program, Dr. Imad Khadduri (who helped UN Inspectors in Iraq and is now living free in Canada), points out that the facilities needed to create nuclear weapons are very large, hard to hide, easily detected, impossible to move, and easily destroyed. It is his considered view that the Iraqis have zero chance of ever producing a bomb. (See uruklink.net/inmd/inn.htm. (This site is no longer available. We apologize for the inconvenience.)
What about chemical and biological weapons?
Consider the following exchange between former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and CNN International's Fionnuala Sweeney:
RITTER: As of December 1998 we had accounted for 90 to 95 percent of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability—"we" being the weapons inspectors. We destroyed all the factories, all of the means of production and we couldn't account for some of the weaponry, but chemical weapons have a shelf-life of five years. Biological weapons have a shelf-life of three years. To have weapons today, they would have had to rebuild the factories and start the process of producing these weapons since December 1998.
SWEENEY: And how do we know that hasn't been happening?
RITTER: We don't, but we cannot go to war on guesswork, hypothesis and speculation. We go to war on hardened fact. So Tony Blair says he has a dossier; present the dossier. George W. Bush and his administration say they know with certainty; show us how you know. [Please note that just days before Colin Powell's UN presentation, Blair came forward with a dossier. It was immediately shown that this dossier was not the product of British intelligence work. Instead, it was plagiarized from three different articles, one written by a graduate student. See channel4.com/news/home/z
SWEENEY: How much access did you get to the weapons inspection sites?
RITTER: One-hundred percent. Every site we wanted to get to, we eventually got to. There was some obstruction, it wasn't pretty, but we got there.
SWEENEY: And after what period of time?
RITTER: It depends; a matter of hours sometimes, days sometimes, months, depending on the level of the international crisis. But remember we approached the weapons inspections the way that, for instance, a forensic crime scene investigator approaches a crime—forensically. And we always uncovered every lie the Iraqis told us. They didn't get away with anything.
SWEENEY: But when you say you always uncovered every lie that Iraq told you, it means that Iraq didn't fully cooperate by any stretch of the imagination.
RITTER: I have never said that Iraq was fully co-operating and when I make an assessment about Iraq's disarmament level, it has nothing to do with what Iraq has declared. I do not trust them, I take nothing they say at face value, it is based upon on the hard work of weapons inspectors who have verified that Iraq has been disarmed through their own independent sources.
Ritter's assessment holds true today. On February 5th, just before Powell's speech to the UN, the Associated Press reported the following:
[Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix] saw no proof that any information was being leaked to the Iraqis about inspection sites, and no evidence that Iraq was moving banned material to escape inspectors. "We have not seen any signs of things being moved around, whether tracks in the sand or in the ground," he said. "Inspectors have also taken samples at many sites, and those analyzed so far do not indicate that any illegal weapons had been moved," he added.
So beware of how politicians use words. President Bush has used words like WMD and "softball" to make it appear that Iraq poses a serious threat, when in fact Iraq is even more toothless now than when coalition forces defeated them in 1991. Bush's supposed worries about an Iraqi bomb are more a "tempest in a teapot" than a potential mushroom cloud over an American city…
UPDATE: The Flimflam by Charley Reese
"Still think you are not being flimflammed by the Bush administration? Take heed of this: Newsweek has reported that Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect and Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, told the United Nations, the CIA and Britain's MI-6 in 1995 that Iraq destroyed all of its chemical and biological stocks, as well as the missiles to deliver them, in 1991.
"Yet the U.N. arms inspectors, the CIA and MI-6 chose to keep that secret. If it's true—and there's no reason to believe it isn't—then it's pretty hard evidence that the Bush administration is lying through its teeth when it keeps insisting that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. It also bolsters the credibility of former chief arms inspector Scott Ritter, who has likewise insisted that Iraq's weapons were destroyed. For that matter, it bolsters the credibility of the Iraqi government, which insists it no longer has any weapons of mass destruction…"
Read the rest of the article at: worldnews