2002 October 03 Thursday
Charles A. Duelfer on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction

Below are excerpts from a presentation Duelfer delivered to US Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats & Capabilities Armed Services Committee on February 27, 2002. Note in the first excerpt how dedicated the Iraqi leadership is to possession of WMD:

UNSCOM had long pressed Iraq to provide information and documents describing the requirements and operational concepts for the BW, CW, Ballistic Missile and nuclear programs. Iraq refused until shortly after Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal defected to Jordan in August 1995. Hussein Kamal was the most senior regime official with control over these weapons programs. Baghdad was concerned about what Kamal would reveal and sought to limit the damage by a burst of controlled cooperation and admissions.

On September 18, 1995, I had a long, late night meeting with several senior Iraqi ministers and other officials. The meeting was arranged to discuss the Iraqi concepts and requirements for their WMD development and production programs. Previously, Baghdad had refused to engage in such a discussion. I remember the meeting quite well, not simply because there was an unusual amount of candor, but because I suddenly realized how unlikely it was that the government would ever comply fully with the UN demand to completely give up all WMD capabilities forever. Consequently, the UNSCOM inspectors had an ultimately hopeless task under the conditions it was permitted to operate.

Iraq revealed that evening how weapons of mass destruction were viewed from the position of the Presidency. (They even provided selected presidential documents.) Partial descriptions of the origin of WMD efforts were discussed. They also discussed how these programs had been used and their importance to the regime. In essence, the possession of WMD had saved the regime on two occasions. The first was in the war with Iran in the 1980's when Iranian human wave infantry attacks were repelled with chemical munitions (UNSCOM learned that 101,000 were reported "consumed" during this period).

The second instance where WMD preserved the regime was more surprising. I had asked about the decision by the Iraqi leadership not to employ WMD in the 1991 Gulf War. In a carefully worded response, the impression was conveyed that the President thought if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against the coalition, retaliation would end his regime and probably him personally. He was successfully deterred. However, my interlocutors went on to describe how they had loaded BW and CW agent into various missile warheads and bombs before hostilities began in 1991. Moreover they dispersed these weapons and pre-delegated the authority to use them if the United States moved on Baghdad. The Iraqis stated that these actions apparently deterred the United States from going to Baghdad.

Whether the Iraqi leadership believes this was the only reason the United States did not go to Baghdad in 1991 is unknown. However, clearly they are convinced that the possession of WMD contributed to keeping the Americans away and thus was vital to their survival.

The Iraqi WMD programs, which were begun in the mid-1970's, and consumed large material and human resources throughout the 1980's were well worth the investment from the perspective of the leadership. It was difficult then and more difficult now, to imagine circumstances under which this regime would end these programs. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said on more than one occasion, "You are not McArthur. You did not occupy Iraq. Therefore, there are limits to what you can do."

Then we come to thee Iraqi regime's willingness to develop and use biological weapons that can not be traced back to them:

It is difficult to understand why Iraq would produce and put into aerial bombs, aflatoxin. It has the effect of causing cancer over a period of several years. Experiments Iraq conducted in mixing aflatoxin with riot control agent appear particularly insidious as they would mask the exposure of individuals to this cancer causing agent.

The experiments with wheat smut are evidently aimed at developing economic weapons.

It was clear that Iraq understood that depending on the method of dispersal, the origin of the agent could be concealed. In other words, they understood the potential for conducting an attack that would be near impossible to connect to Baghdad as the responsible actor.

We have only two real choices in dealing with the Iraqi regime:

  • Allow Saddam and eventually his son to possess an increasingly larger assortment of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Included in that set of weapons will be weapons that will be able to be used without our being able to trace back the source of the attack to its origin.
  • Invade, remove the regime from power, and then painstakingly search out all the weapons development, production and storage facilities.
Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 03 05:03 PM  Inspections and Sanctions

warner b. wirta said at January 23, 2004 7:23 PM:

personally I believe that search for wmd is a coverup.

eljay said at October 7, 2004 4:22 AM:

It's crystal clear - we did the right thing. Kerry/Edwards say "we will go after the terrorists before they attack us, and we will kill them" yet they criticize the current administration for doing just that.

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