Duelfer`s WMD Report Fuels Debate on Iraq War
Head of Iraq Survey Team Charles Duelfer asserted Wednesday, October 6, in testimony and report to the US Senate Armed Forces Committee that no WMD stockpiles were found to exist in Iraq in 2003. However, Iraq was producing missiles beyond UN-imposed limits and could have fitted them with warheads very quickly. The ICG team found no active nuclear program and no conclusive findings on biological programs. However, by 2003, Iraq had capabilities for producing chemical or biological weapons in months and retained the intellectual capacity to reconstitute WMD programs.
Once sanctions were defeated, Saddam intended to reactive his banned programs focusing on chemical weapons, long range missiles and nuclear arms, according to the ISG report. His objectives were Iran and Israel. Iraqi scientists working on nuclear programs were instructed to preserve and hide documents and the chemical industry was reorganized in the mid-1990s to allow the weapons program to be restarted quickly
The ISG team found no evidence of mobile biological weapons facilities but cannot be sure they will not turn up to negate its report on this question. Duelfer warned of the danger that Iraqi WMD expertise could be transferred to other hands. Iraqi insurgents have indeed tried to develop WMD, but their efforts have been stopped.
In answer to a question, Duelfer said Saddam chose not to have banned weapons at the particular point of time before the war, given the frame of reference after 9/11 including sanctions, isolation, reduced revenues. All in all, it was the ICG chief’s view that those conditions were not sustainable. Had he stayed in power, his advisers and most Iraqis were sure he would have pursued WMD. In fact he said he would.
Speaking analytically, Duelfer maintained the world is better off with Saddam gone.
Duelfer could not say definitively that Iraqi weapons were not transferred out of Iraq before the 2003 war. But many questions are still unanswered.
ICG has just obtained a mass of new documents as large as the collection already in hand.
Senator McCain: Every intelligence agency in the world, US, British, French, Israeli, came to the same conclusion that Iraqi had WMD. How do you account for that?
Only Saddam knows the full truth of his WMD.
Duelfer referred to many conversations he had with Iraqis, top Saddam regime officials and Saddam himself. He pointed out that the deposed Iraqi ruler was deliberately ambiguous and misleading in a speech he made on June 200. When questioned by the ICG head in his prison cell, Saddam explained that he had tried to impress Iran that he had more than he did.
Most Iraqis believed he had banned weapons. “Why wouldn’t he? Twice they saved him?”
But the types of logic that apply in the West don’t apply in Iraq, Duelfer pointed out.
One of the report’s chapters, run on the CIA’s website Thursday, October 7, shows how kickbacks and corruption in the UN oil for food program rescued the Iraqi economy from terminal decline. Saddam amassed $11 b from oil smuggling to circumvent sanctions first imposed in 1990.
The now-defunct UN oil-for-food program was begun at the end of 1996 to allow Baghdad to buy civilian goods and sell oil to pay for them under UN monitoring. It handled $67 billion. Accusations emerged against Benon Sevan, the program’s head which he has vigorously denied.
The Saddam government’s scheme included making deals with firms to acquire prohibited items. Iraq openly shipped oil by truck to Jordan and turkey with the United States and others turning a blind eye.
Hundreds of individuals and companies from more than 40 countries, and government officials in Syria and Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the UAR, are said to have funneled arms and goods to Iraq in violation of sanctions. They include names in France, Russia and China, all permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Others on the lengthy list include Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Russian Liberal Democrat Party, Charles Pasqua, former French interior minister, Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri, the son of Lebanese president Emile Lahoud and the Peoples Liberation Front of Palestine.
The names were contained in 13 secret files maintained by former Iraqi vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan and never independently corroborated. Several US firms were on the list but not released because of privacy laws.
The UN has turned over all the documents to an investigatory commission headed by Paul Volcker, the former US Federal Reserve chairman.