October 24, 2004
MORT ZUCKERMAN notes the overlooked parts of the Duelfer Report:
There is, in fact, a much darker side, and here it is:
Saddam wanted to re-create Iraq's banned weapons programs, including nuclear weapons.
Saddam was determined to develop ballistic missiles and tactical chemical weapons when the U.N. sanctions were either lifted or corroded.
Saddam retained the industrial equipment to help restart these programs, having increased from 1996 to 2002 his military industrial spending 40-fold and his technical military research 80-fold. Even while U.N. weapons inspectors were in Iraq, Saddam's scientists were performing deadly experiments on human guinea pigs in secret labs.
To what end? The overlooked section of the Duelfer report could not have put it any clearer: "Iraq would have been able to produce mustard agents in a period of months and nerve agent in less than a year or two." While Saddam had abandoned his biological weapons programs, he retained the scientists and other technicians "needed to restart a potential biological weapons program," and he "intended to reconstitute long-range delivery systems [that is, missiles] and . . . the systems potentially were for WMD." . . .
With the complicity of the U.N. officials allegedly involved in Saddam's Oil-for-Food bribery scheme, can there be any doubt that the sanctions would have eventually disappeared?
The French worked at every turn to frustrate efforts to hold Saddam's feet to the fire. A French legislator even told an Iraqi intelligence official that Paris would veto any U.N. resolution authorizing war against Iraq. In fact, France threatened to do just that. But for what, exactly? Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, told Duelfer that "French oil companies wanted to secure two large oil contracts." National bribery on top of individual bribery--now, that's something you don't see every day.
Duelfer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Sanctions were in free fall . . . . If not for 9/11, I don't think they would exist today" and described Saddam as "a grave threat" to the Middle East and to the entire world.
Glad to see this stuff getting some attention outside of the blogosphere.