News Release

* Disappeared Weapons * Iraqi WMDs


The 380 tons of high explosives missing from al Qaqaa in Iraq have become an issue in the waning days of the presidential campaign. The New York Times reports the explosives were there when U.S. soldiers arrived, but when local Iraqis asked the soldiers to guard them, they “were told this was not the soldiers’ responsibility.” KSTP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul reports that one of its film crews “in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.”
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A former nuclear scientist with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, Khadduri wrote the new book Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage. Starting before the invasion of Iraq, he wrote a series of articles questioning the Bush administration’s assertions regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capacity. He said today: “I am familiar with the facility at al Qaqaa. I dealt with people there when Iraq still had a nuclear program in the late 1980s. Iraq had no nuclear program after the Gulf War and it’s ridiculous that the Bush administration got away with claiming that it did. Some are claiming that this shows that Iraq did in fact have weapons of mass destruction, but these explosives are conventional and are quite easily available on the global market. They are quite likely being used as explosives by the resistance. All this highlights that disarmament was hardly driving U.S. actions, contrary to the rhetoric we hear. This facility was being monitored by the IAEA before the invasion — since these conventional weapons could be useful in building nuclear weapons — and doors had IAEA seals on them which were apparently broken by U.S. forces. The U.S. ignored IAEA warnings about this facility. This also ominously occurred at another nuclear site, at the Nuclear Research Center at Tuwaitha, 20 km east of Baghdad. There were nuclear burial mounds there that contained hundreds of tons of yellow cake, unprocessed natural uranium, and other nuclear waste accumulated over 30 years of research and development. The U.S. military broke open the IAEA-locked mounds, probably got some of the U.S. soldiers contaminated, and then left the mound open to looters. That facility was in fact looted by villagers of three or four surrounding villages who needed the barrels that contained the yellow cake and caused serious radioactive contamination in these villages, which is harmful to civilians. But since they are Iraqi, and not American, the issue did not warrant that much attention, then.”
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Kull is director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which just released a study of public attitudes on Iraq. Kull said today: “There is now a consensus among the American public that if Iraq did not have WMD and was not providing substantial support to al Qaeda, the U.S. should not have gone to war with Iraq. Seventy-four percent overall have this view, including 58 percent of Bush supporters and 92 percent of Kerry supporters. A majority also rejects the argument that the U.S. should have gone to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein had the intention to acquire WMD. Overall, support for the decision to go to war has eroded slightly since August, so that a majority of 51 percent now says that it was the wrong decision, and 46 percent say it was the right decision. It may seem contradictory that three-quarters of Americans say that the U.S. should not have gone to war if Iraq did not have WMD or was not providing support to al Qaeda, while nearly half still say the war was the right decision. However, support for the decision is sustained by persisting beliefs among half of Americans that Iraq provided substantial support to al Qaeda, and had WMD, or at least a major WMD program. Despite the widely-publicized conclusions of the Duelfer report, 49 percent of Americans continue to believe Iraq had actual WMD (27 percent) or a major WMD program (22 percent), and 52 percent believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.”

Author of the article “What We Think About When We Think About Iraq: How So Many Americans Can Be So Wrong About WMD,” Schwarz said today: “Given the continuing dishonesty of the Bush administration and others, it’s no wonder many Americans continue to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The latest distortion is that the al Qaqaa explosives were WMD. Although highly dangerous, they were not. In the election season, it’s vital that citizens get accurate information about this issue.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167