Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Why no WMD victory parade?

Despite yesterday's discovery of a sarin-filled artillery shell in Iraq, the Americans seem strangely reluctant to trumpet the obvious fact that their mission has now been justified. A weapon of mass destruction has been found? So - where are the victory parades?

Of course, there were a couple of flies in the sarin. The shell was being used as a roadside bomb, and whoever planted it did not seem to know that it wasn't an ordinary high-explosive job. There is so far only one round, and no sign of any units prepared to use them. (Artillery-delivered chemical weapons are used by firing off a barrage of shells into the area of the target. You need a battery of guns and a lot of rounds.) It didn't even go off. For once, both Hans Blix and Brig.Gen. Mark Kimmett were in agreement - both said the shell was likely a relic from pre-1991 stocks, overlooked both by Iraq and by the UN. (I wonder if it might have been an Iran-Iraq dud?) Link:
"Kay, the former leader of the Iraq Survey Group, said the shell was likely one of thousands produced for the Iran-Iraq war. While the Hussein government claimed that all leftover chemical munitions had been destroyed in accordance with U.N. Security Council requirements, it is possible that some were overlooked, hidden or stolen. Before the U.S.-led invasion last year, U.N. weapons inspectors found several empty chemical warheads for rockets and a small number of artillery shells filled with mustard gas."

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