2003 April 20 Sunday
Iraqi Chemical Weapons Scientist Provides US With Key Information

Judith Miller has an important story in the New York Times about an Iraqi chemical weapons scientist who has first hand knowledge of how and where some parts of Iraq's weapons development efforts were hidden and how parts of them were being destroyed in the run-up to the war.

The Americans said the scientist told them that President Saddam Hussein's government had destroyed some stockpiles of deadly agents as early as the mid-1990's, transferred others to Syria, and had recently focused its efforts instead on research and development projects that are virtually impervious to detection by international inspectors, and even American forces on the ground combing through Iraq's giant weapons plants.

The article also provides some details on why the efforts to search for evidence of the Iraqi government's weapons programs have been moving slowly in the earlier stages. The highly compartmentalized nature of the Iraqi weapons program limits how much this one scientist knows. However, the capture of higher level Iraqi officials familiar with Iraq's weapons development programs promises to provide a better top-down view of all the pieces that need to be sought out.

Other who were involved in Iraq's weapons development programs are being rounded up.

U.S. officials have called Emad Husayn Abdullah Ani the father of Iraq's program to make the sophisticated nerve agent VX. His capture could be an important advance in the U.S. search for chemical and biological weapons inside Iraq.

Here's another guy who probably knows useful information.

Abdul-Khaleq Abdul-Ghafur, Saddam's minister of higher education and scientific research and number 43 on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis, was taken into custody on Saturday, a U.S. military central command statement said.

My own guess is that site inspection will not by itself be anywhere near as fruitful as the ability to interrogate Iraqi scientists and regime figures who held positions which gave them first hand knowledge of the regime's weapons development programs. As more scientists and regime officials who have relevant knowledge are identified and rounded up the progress of the investigation will accelerate.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 April 20 11:43 PM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control


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