Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Tuwiaitha "Yellowcake" or, manufacturing a bogus story about Iraqi WMDs

Context is always important--a fact too often lost in the posts at Libertarian Republican.

Today's post, for example, is entitled Saddam Hussein's WMD enabling yellow cake shipped to Canada: How will the Anti-War Libertarians ever explain this one? Here's the mud that Eric Dondero attempts to fling at Iraq war critics among the Libertarian movement (and presumably all you other Iraq war critics as well):

Early in the War, in 2003, two US Soldiers were hospitalized for burns suffered while handling sarin and mustard gas laced weaponry on the battlefield. Additionally that same year, weapons inspector teams uncovered plans for Hussein's WMD program burried in the rose garden of one of Saddam's top weapons scientists. In 2004, Polish Soldiers uncovered a number of missiles in an abandoned warehouse, and a year after that, US Soldiers found 500 additional sarin and mustard gas laced missiles in another warehouse.

Both stories were mentioned by the media in passing, and largely written off as "old weaponry too old for active use."

Predictably, the Anti-War wing of the libertarian movement echoed the explanations of the liberal media. On libertarian blog after blog, when confronted with the stories, Anti-war Libertarians just shrugged, and when the news died down, they went on with their rants: "Where's the WMD? Bush said the reason we invaded Iraq was WMD. So, where's the WMD?"

He then cites part of an AP story on the sale by the current Iraqi government to Canada of tons of low-grade, non-enriched uranium (known as Yellowcake) from the Tuwaitha reactor complex as evidence that large-scale WMDs were there all the time.

For this he castigates those pesky anti-war Libertarians:

Another weapon has fallen off the shelf in the arsenal of the Anti-War wing of the libertarian movement. For years, they shouted to Pro-War on Islamo-Fascism libertarians "Where's the WMD, where's the WMD?" Now, that it has been found conclusively, actually for at least the 5th time now, there's dead silence from the Anti-War camp.

Now, look for the Anti-Warists to pick up the rant again in a few weeks or months: "Bush lied... there was never any WMD." Problem for them, this time Pro-Defense Libertarians will be watching

Well, if so-called Pro-Defense Libertarians allow themselves to be misled by Eric's ridiculous post, then they will unfortunately self-identify as morons.


Because the Tuwaitha nuclear fuel dump has been well-documented back prior to the First Gulf War, and has never been associated with WMD claims by the Bush administration.

Again, why?

Because in 1991, immediately following the Gulf War, the much-maligned International Atomic Energy Agency removed all stocks of fissile uranium from the Tuwaitha plant, sealed the low-grade ore in containers, and re-inspected them for damage or removal on an annual basis until evicted from the country.

As Global puts it

Following the 1991 Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency removed all known Iraqi stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 687. As of 2002 the only positively confirmed nuclear material left in Iraq is 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and several tons of natural and depleted uranium. The material is in a locked storage site at the Tuwaitha nuclear research facility near Baghdad. Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this stock of material is checked once a year by an IAEA team. The most recent check was in January 2002, and none of the material had been tampered with at that time.

Nor did Secretary of State Colin Powell even reference Tuwaitha in his now-famous presentation to the UN Security Council.

In May 2003, the administration released a sensationalized story that our Marines had captured Tuwaitha and possibly detected WMD evidence:

The site, 18 miles south of Baghdad, was secured by Marines in early April. Their tests, and subsequent tests by Army weapons experts at the site, detected what could be plutonium. Further tests to determine the nature of the materials have not yet been conducted there.

Of course, the Bush administration was more reluctant to admit that it had refused access to the IAEI, which had detailed inventories for the material stored there, and could have clarified in a matter of days whether anything had been disturbed since 2002. (Guess what? Turned out there was no plutonium there after all.)

In fact, Dubya and his boys were so certain that there was nothing significant at Tuwaitha in a WMD sense that, in October 2003, Coalition forces turned control of facility back to Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government, which began salvage and rebuilding operations. Eventually, the Iraqis decided to sell the material to a Canadian firm because they were worried about Al Qaeda or other insurrectionists getting hold of some of it to make low-level dirty bombs.

So here's the point: the smoking gun that Eric Dondero thinks he sees or smells in the AP story about the Tuwaitha yellowcake sale to Canada is a piece of old news that appears in an overly sensationalist wire story that is light on facts.

The best advice for Pro-Defense Libertarians like Eric Dondero: if you want credibility beyond the right-wing world of gotcha talking points, actually do some research before you run a story claiming WMDs have been found in Iraq.

No comments: