Baghdad has reacted with scorn to reports issued by the CIA and by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime is pursuing an aggressive policy to produce weapons of mass destruction.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared to NATO Defence Ministers in Warsaw on Tuesday that the objective of his administration is “to stop another September 11th or worse, a WMD attack, before it happens”. He added that Iraq “poses a threat to the world” and mentioned a CIA report claiming that Saddam Hussein’s regime has actively supported terrorist organisations and is pursuing WMD programmes.
One such facility, mentioned in the report British Prime Minister Tony Blair showed to the House of Commons on Tuesday, claiming it was “a particular cause for concern”, was the subject of a visit by journalists earlier on Wednesday. The group of journalists were shown round the production facility 35 km. south of Baghdad by the site manager, Sinan Rasim.
Mr. Rasim expressed surprise that his facility should have been named because it had been visited by the arms inspectors and everything had been given the all clear. His facility produces Aniline, which is an industrial chemical, not a weapons grade one. “This unit, everybody was happy with the process and nobody said anything (was) wrong with it”.
Defence experts claim that unless the group of journalists were carrying detection equipment, they would not be able to distinguish between what was a production plant of WMD and what was not. However, TV images of the plant show leaking pipes, which would indicate that the agent being produced is not lethally toxic WMD.
Only upon verification by UNMOVIC in the field can such discrepancies be overcome.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru