Iraqi Officials Deny Early

Iraqi Officials Deny Early Disappearance of Explosives

Dr. Muhammad Sharaa who leads Iraq’s science monitoring department, denies that the 380 tons of high explosives that has gone missing could have been moved in spring of 2003 before or during the war. AFP reports:

“It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime’s fall,” Mohammed al-Sharaa, who heads the Science Ministry’s site monitoring department, said.

“The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall.

“I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of.”

AP’s timeline on the explosives shows that an inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Commission visited Iraq in mid-March, 2003 just before the war, and found the seals they had placed on the explosives containers in January untouched.

US military officers are now expressing confidence that the explosives couldn’t have been removed in April-May 2003 because there were US vehicles all over the roads it would need to have travelled. But as Nathan Brown notes below, the signs of looting were far more extreme as reported in spring of 2004 than they had been earlier. So the evidence suggests that in fact lots of looting did go on under the nose of the US military. (Again, as John Kerry has pointed out, this wasn’t their fault; they didn’t have enough troops on the ground to secure the weapons sites). In fact, all the looting of all the weapons depots took place with US military driving all over the country. But they had no instructions to stop random trucks and that was not defined as their mission by the Bush administration.

After all, you wouldn’t have thought that seven nuclear facilities in Iraq could have been looted at that time, either, with all the US troops around and US vehicles on the roads. Sorry, nice try but no cigar.

I think the evidence is that the explosives were still there and under seal in mid-March 2003. I find it difficult to believe they were moved during the war. What soldier would have been stupid enough to drive a truck full of that stuff through Iraq as the US was bombing the country? Despite the stability of these explosives under ordinary circumstances, such a truck driver would have been exposed to extreme danger from American fire, if anything sufficiently powerful hit the truck. Plus the Iraqi scientists now confirm that it wasn’t moved.

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