Monday, November 21, 2011

Chem Weapons in Libya

From the Washington Post:
Pentagon and CIA analysts have asserted that Iran fired chemical artillery shells at Iraqi troops in 1988, a contention supported by secret Iraqi government documents obtained after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. A 1987 letter, written by Iraq’s military intelligence director and stamped “top secret,” described three Iranian chemical attacks and sought to assess what appeared to be a growing Iranian interest in mustard agent. “The enemy has chemical bombs/shells,” concluded the letter, part of an archives acquired by the Conflict Records Research Center at the National Defense University. It said that Iran probably received help from a foreign power in obtaining the chemicals to fill its munitions and that it was attempting “by various means to reach an advanced stage of chemical agent production.”
Wait sorry, that was on page two. You can read all about the surprise chem weapons found in Libya on page one, where anonymous sources tell reporters Iran might have supplied these mustard gas shells to Libya after the Iran-Iraq war (somewhere around 1989).   Not sure how they know it unless there's a "made in Iran, death to America" label on the canisters.  

But the more interesting part of this story is the intelligence on Iraq on page two.  Suddenly "Iraqi government documents obtained after the fall of Baghdad" can be trusted!  Wow.  And in this iteration, the WaPo tells us that such documents seemed to confirm that the Islamic regime in Iran indeed had chemical weapons because they were firing them at Iraqis during their war.  

But wait--how did the Mullahs get chem weapons?  Is there a secret picture of Rummy shaking hands with Ayatollah Khomeini we haven't seen yet?  Because after all, that's the only way Iraq got their stuff--from us, and the picture proved it.     

If Rummy didn't supply Tehran which "foreign power" did?  The Soviets?  French?  Chinese?  North Korea?  

And what about the rest of those captured Iraqi documents?  Are we now to believe the ones about the Taliban, or about WMDs?  Or does this only work when a Democratic political purpose is to be served, like piling on Iran?  Feel free to suspend your disbelief until told otherwise (by the people who said Bush lied). 

Now, on Libya, the presence of mustard gas makes the Bush-Rice disarmament deal look a little silly.  Did they really trust that little madman?  Silly, not smart diplomacy.  And who knows, there may be more WMDs stashed around and about, or the mustard stash they found may have been tapped into already.  After all there were no UN tags on the stockpile.   All of which should say something about international inspections and estimates in general.  Remember, we were told the UN inspectors could be left to make sure Saddam was WMD-free, after which he too would have pushed for sanctions to be dropped just like Gaddafi. 

And what about Syria? Intelligence estimates suggest they also have chem weapons, probably stored in the Bekaa Valley.  If Iraqi docs are now in vogue, shall we now believe this fantasy as well?  And surely if the Iranians were the ones selling to Libya there's much more of that stuff in Syria, their main middle eastern ally. Yet Assad's country is in turmoil and our Secretary of State is predicting his eventual demise. Hopefully there's a plan to keep those weapons away from AQ or Hizballah or other "lone wolves" as that regime falls.

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