UN weapons inspectors have found documents in the homes of two Iraqi scientists showing evidence of on-going nuclear weapons development work.
Although UN officials say that they have no comment to make at present on the documents found at the scientists' homes, a Western diplomat closely involved with the investigation into Saddam's nuclear capability yesterday confirmed that the documents showed that Iraq was still attempting to develop its own atomic weapons.
"These are not old documents. They are new and they relate to on-going work taking place in Iraq to develop nuclear weapons," the official told The Telegraph.
Lots of obvious questions come to mind. Which western intelligence agency tipped the UN inspectors as to the home addresses of these nuclear scientists? Also, why couldn't Saddam Hussein find a better place to hide the documents? Couldn't he at least have had some specialists construct a well-hidden compartment for the documents under each home that would have eluded detection? It is surprising just how easy it was to find those documents. If the Iraqi scientists and officials had more enthusiasm for their jobs and weren't living in fear of Saddam my guess is that they would have shown more initiative and ingenuity in developing ways to hide the evidence of WMD development.
If this Daily Telegraph report is accurate then George W. Bush now has the sort of smoking gun evidence that proves Saddam Hussein's regime is trying to develop nuclear weapons. That the Iraqi regime is trying to do development of WMD should be glaringly obvious to anyone who wants to examine the other forms of evidence and the historical record and nature of the Iraqi regime. The use of UN inspection teams is, depending on your point of view, for the purpose of either proving the obvious to fools or to allow those who oppose the overthrow of Saddam's regime some hope of preventin its overthrow.
The writer of the Daily Telegraph report above, Con Coughlin, is the author of a recently released biography of Saddam Hussein Saddam: King of Terror.
The scientists whose houses were searched are being asked by the UN inspectors to leave the country for interviews. They are vehemently refusing to leave
Physicist Faleh Hassan Al Basri said a female American inspector told him the United Nations could help expedite departure for him and his wife, who has diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney stones.
"Never, never, never ever," Al Basri told reporters. "Even if I have instruction from my government, I would not leave my country."
They are strongly motivated to stay in Iraq because they do not want their entire families out to the level of 6th cousins killed by Saddam in retribution.
Iraqi exiles told London's Sunday Times that scientists with vital information for the UN inspectors had been forced by the Saddam regime to produce the names of scores of relatives to intimidate them against giving evidence.
The exiles claimed Saddam's secret police had formed what was called a "Six List" of family members – meaning that everyone up to and including sixth cousins would be killed if key information was revealed.
In Iraq's close-knot family structure, that meant hundreds of deaths.
The high level of marriage to relatives characteristic of Arab societies makes threats against extended family members especially effective. Cousin marriage and tribal ties will also make the creation of a liberal democracy in Iraq somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible.
Update: This latest report combined with Colin Powell's comments to a German newspaper makes clear that the war is still scheduled for February 2003.
"We believe a persuasive case will be there at the end of the month that Iraq is not co-operating," Mr. Powell said in an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, according to a State Department transcript.
Update II: Its clear from this New York Times report that the Bush Administration does not even believe its necessary to prove that Iraq possesses or is developing WMD. The Bush Administration party line is that if Saddam Hussein isn't actively cooperating with UNMOVIC and IAEA then its time to start a war to remove him from power.
Top officials of the Bush administration today rejected calls for a prolonged inspections process in Iraq, asserting that the moment of decision was fast approaching on whether Saddam Hussein's regime had complied with the disarmament demands from the United Nations Security Council.
How long will the Bush Administration be willing to discuss the matter with the UN Security Council? Will they ask for a quick vote and then attack if the UNSC doesn't respond quickly? Or will they let talks go on for a few weeks while they wait for all the aircraft carriers to arrive in theater?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 January 19 11:57 AM Inspections and Sanctions|