Iraq’s Legendary Weapons of Mass Destruction.


KPN readers are well aware of the dubious claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, claims that were used as the basis for war, and further comment to such an audience seems superfluous.  Yet a further, final word on the subject is tempting.

The danger posed to the world by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was presented as the only legitimate reason for the ‘pre-emptive’ invasion.  Yet the US, British and Australian leaders all knew that there was no question that the weapons of mass destruction referred to were nuclear weapons, as Saddam’s attempt to build nuclear weapons had been in an infant stage in 1991, and the primitive facilities had been destroyed at that time, after the conclusion of the first Gulf War, and strict sanctions had been enforced since that time.  This is made quite clear in the account given by the executive president of UNMOVIC, Hans Blix, in his recent book Disarming Iraq: the Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction.    Yet in the Prime Minister’s appeals to the public and to his fellow MPs during the ‘debate’ in September 2002, there was always the implication that the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ might well be nuclear in nature.

Neither were doubts about the effectiveness of Saddam’s chemical and biological weapons mentioned by the prime minister during the debate. On the contrary, he stressed the thousands of litres of anthrax solution as a dangerous threat.  Yet he must have been aware that Saddam’s chemical weapons were well past their sell-by date.  In his recent book, The Point of Departure, Robin Cook, who resigned his post as Leader of the House of Commons because of the Iraq war, had this comment:

For a start most chemical or biological agents that Saddam had retained for a decade would long ago have degenerated to the point where they were of no operational use.  This is a principle of science well known to those who wrote the dossier.  . . . Government ministers alarmed the public by claims that Saddam had ten thousand litres of anthrax solution unaccounted for since 1991.  They never added that the standard life of anthrax is three years and by now the substance would be in the words of Scott Ritter, the former UN inspector, ‘harmless useless goo’.