IRAQ WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
In April 2003 International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed El Baradei said material from Iraqi nuclear facilities were being smuggled out of the country.
Release of declassified materials comes as Senate debates Democrat proposals for U.S. troops withdrawal.
WASHINGTON June 2006- The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers recently reported.
"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference. Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."
Read the declassified portion of the NGIC report. http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/Iraq_WMD_Declassified.pdf
He added that the report warns about the hazards that the chemical weapons could still pose to coalition troops in Iraq.
"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.
"This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.
Hoekstra said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."
Asked why the Bush administration, if it had known about the information since April or earlier, didn't advertise it, Hoekstra conjectured that the president has been forward-looking and concentrating on the development of a secure government in Iraq.
Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.
"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."
The official said the findings did raise questions about the years of weapons inspections that had not resulted in locating the fairly sizeable stash of chemical weapons. And he noted that it may say something about Hussein's intent and desire. The report does suggest that some of the weapons were likely put on the black market and may have been used outside Iraq.
He also said that the Defense Department statement shortly after the March 2003 invasion saying that "we had all known weapons facilities secured," has proven itself to be untrue.
"It turned out the whole country was an ammo dump," he said, adding that on more than one occasion, a conventional weapons site has been uncovered and chemical weapons have been discovered mixed within them.
Hoekstra and Santorum lamented that Americans were given the impression after a 16-month search conducted by the Iraq Survey Group that the evidence of continuing research and development of weapons of mass destruction was insignificant. But the National Ground Intelligence Center took up where the ISG left off when it completed its report in November 2004, and in the process of collecting intelligence for the purpose of force protection for soldiers and sailors still on the ground in Iraq, has shown that the weapons inspections were incomplete, they and others have said.
"We know it was there, in place, it just wasn't operative when inspectors got there after the war, but we know what the inspectors found from talking with the scientists in Iraq that it could have been cranked up immediately, and that's what Saddam had planned to do if the sanctions against Iraq had halted and they were certainly headed in that direction," said Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard and a FOX News contributor.
"It is significant. Perhaps, the administration just, they think they weathered the debate over WMD being found there immediately and don't want to return to it again because things are otherwise going better for them, and then, I think, there's mindless resistance to releasing any classified documents from Iraq," Barnes said.
The release of the declassified materials comes as the Senate debates Democratic proposals to create a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. The debate has had the effect of creating disunity among Democrats, a majority of whom shrunk Wednesday from an amendment proposed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to have troops to be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the middle of next year.
At the same time, congressional Republicans have stayed highly united, rallying around a White House that has seen successes in the last couple weeks, first with the death of terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then the completion of the formation of Iraq's Cabinet and then the announcement Tuesday that another key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, "religious emir" Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, was also killed in a U.S. airstrike.
Santorum pointed out that during Wednesday's debate, several Senate Democrats said that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, a claim, he said, that the declassified document proves is untrue.
"This is an incredibly in my mind significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction, is in fact false," he said.
As a result of this new information, under the aegis of his chairmanship, Hoekstra said he is going to ask for more reporting by the various intelligence agencies about weapons of mass destruction.
"We are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community. And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war," Hoekstra said.
FOX News' Jim Angle and Sharon Kehnemui Liss contributed to this report.
UN inspectors say, "Saddam shipped out WMD before the war and after." Warrior Archives Friday, June 11, 2004
The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.
The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.
The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.
UNMOVIC acting executive chairman Demetrius Perricos told the council on June 9 that "the only controls at the borders are for the weight of the scrap metal, and to check whether there are any explosive or radioactive materials within the scrap," Middle East Newsline reported.
"It's being exported," Perricos said after the briefing. "It's being traded out. And there is a large variety of scrap metal from very new to very old, and slowly, it seems the country is depleted of metal."
"The removal of these materials from Iraq raises concerns with regard to proliferation risks," Perricos told the council. Perricos also reported that inspectors found Iraqi WMD and missile components shipped abroad that still contained UN inspection tags.
He said the Iraqi facilities were dismantled and sent both to Europe and around the Middle East. at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. Destionations included Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003 : Report: U.S suspects Iraqi WMD in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley
The Baghdad missile site contained a range of WMD and dual-use components, UN officials said. They included missile components, reactor vessel and fermenters the latter required for the production of chemical and biological warheads.
"It raises the question of what happened to the dual-use equipment, where is it now and what is it being used for," Ewen Buchanan, Perricos's spokesman, said. "You can make all kinds of pharmaceutical and medicinal products with a fermenter. You can also use it to breed anthrax."
The UNMOVIC report said Iraqi missiles were dismantled and exported to such countries as Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey. In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, an SA-2 surface-to-air missile, one of at least 12, was discovered in a junk yard, replete with UN tags. In Jordan, UN inspectors found 20 SA-2 engines as well as components for solid-fuel for missiles.
"The problem for us is that we don't know what may have passed through these yards and other yards elsewhere," Buchanan said. "We can't really assess the significance and don't know the full extent of activity that could be going on there or with others of Iraq's neighbors."
UN inspectors have assessed that the SA-2 and the short-range Al Samoud surface-to-surface missile were shipped abroad by agents of the Saddam regime. Buchanan said UNMOVIC plans to inspect other sites, including in Turkey.
In April, International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed El Baradei said material from Iraqi nuclear facilities were being smuggled out of the country.
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