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May 18, 2004

Blaster is enjoying an NRO-alanche...

As well he should.

What BG Kimmit is describing is a "mix in flight" binary round. While he says that the Iraqs had declared all such rounds destroyed prior to the 1991 Gulf War, that isn't entirely true. The truth is the Iraqis said they never had such rounds. The Iraqis never claimed to have them. The United States never thought they had the capability:
"The U.S. Defense Department’s “Militarily Critical Technologies List” (MCTL) is “a detailed compendium of technologies" that the department advocates as “critical to maintaining superior US military capabilities. It applies to all mission areas, especially counter-proliferation.” Written in 1998, it was recently re-published with updates for 2002."


"There was some talk shortly before the first Gulf War that the Iraqis had been creating binary chemical weapons, in which the relatively non-toxic ingredients of the agent remain unmixed until just before the weapon is used; this allows the user to bypass any worry about shelf life or toxicity. But according to the MCTL , “The Iraqis had a small number of bastardized binary munitions in which some unfortunate individual was to pour one ingredient into the other from a Jerry can prior to use” – an action few soldiers were willing to perform."

Note that the referenced article is from Alternet, and it is saying that the US, Ritter, and the UN "knew" that there was no binary weapons capability in Iraq. We know that they didn't have these prior to the Gulf War, and the UN says that they never developed or weaponized any WMD after the Gulf War, under the inspection regime.

Blaster's whole piece is here.

UPDATE: A reader of The Corner makes this observation:

Jonah, Balster's Blog got very close to, but missed, the really huge news behind the sarin gas shell. The thing was not marked. This is not the way you manufacture, store or deploy chemical munitions. They require special handling and careful considerations when used to avoid endangering your own troops. So why in the world would this chemical munition not be clearly marked? 1. Hiding the things from inspectors. Chemical weapons, disguised as conventional ordinance, would be extremely difficult to detect by anyone, especially if they were mixed in with conventional ordinance at weapons dumps, with innocuous markings (perhaps simple numbers) to allow handlers to tell the difference. If this be the case, our missing WMDs may very well be hiding in plain sight to this day, undiscovered until terrorists grabbed what they thought was a regular conventional artillery round from an unsecured sight that inspectoirs may have already gone through. 2. Disguising the things from Saddam's own commanders. It was no secret that America was serious about WMDs, and threatened war even during the Clinton administration over it. It was also no secret that WMDs were what American military commanders most feared in the event of an Iraqi invasion (remember the worries during the first Gulf War?). Saddam surely would have anticipated America appealing directly to Iraqi field commanders not to use chemical weapons, and may have known that we would hold those who did personally responsible in war crimes trials post invasion. We threatened exactly that. Faced with the possibility that his own commanders may not follow orders to use chemical weapons, he issues artillery shells and other weapons that are devoid of known markings that distinguish between types of ordinance. That means that if Iraqi cammanders shoot anything at all, the will likely shoot chemical weapons in the mix. Ironically, that may have backfired on Saddam. Many Iraqi Republican Guard Units deployed around Baghdad melted away faster than expected. What if that is because Iraqi commanders that suspected they had chemical weapons "in the mix" refused to use any of their weapons and abandoned their post? Of course, this is loaded with speculation. But whatever the reasoning, the story of unmarked chemical weapons munitions turning up randomly in central Iraq is bound to get real interesting. Real fast. Joe Frye

We shall see whether the press takes the bait. Especially in conjunction with this:

Financing and armaments appear to be in plentiful supply. When Abu Ali's network runs low on resources, it turns to a man identified only as "the Emir," a shadowy loyalist leader who summons Abu Ali to meetings at irregular intervals. "We are not rich men," Abu Ali says, "but we have everything." Old Soviet surface-to-air missiles that had been stockpiled by Saddam's regime go for upwards of $ 1,000 apiece on the black market, yet Abu Ali's organization has them in abundance. It also has access to a pipeline of weapons flowing across Iraq's borders. Another major Baghdad cell leader, Mohammed, happily displays the latest acquisition, a batch of 60mm mortars with markings in English that were hidden in a boggy field and retrieved by a farmer's wife. When asked how the group obtained them, Mohammed responds in a word: "Syria." Abu Ali's most frightening plans involve his desire to employ unconventional weapons. His most prized possession, he says, is a cache of 82mm mortar rounds. Mohammed displays one of the rounds and proclaims, "This is a chemical mortar." Encased in a green storage tube with a flip-lock lid, the weapon has liquid sloshing inside a bulbous head reeking with a putrid odor that burns the nostrils. The Russian markings on the weapon identify it as a TD-42 liquid, high-explosive mortar. It's impossible to know what is really in the device or if the boasts of Abu Ali and Mohammed are true. Iraqi scientists in the Military Industrialization Commission in the 1980s and early 1990s imported Soviet munitions to refill with unknown substances. Abu Ali claims that his cache came from that commission, and he is convinced the mortar contains a highly lethal gas. His group, he says, is just waiting for the right U.S. target and the right meteorological conditions to use it. When a reporter expresses skepticism, Abu Ali smiles and says, "Wait and see."
John | Permalink | Comments (1) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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