UN inspectors read WMD report on web

No weapons found, report hidden from scrutiny

Feature story - 6 October, 2003
Weapons inspector David Kay - the head of the "Iraq Survey Group" and hawkish pro-war cheerleader prior to the US attack - reports that the US has failed to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A version of Kay's interim report had been expected to be publicly released. But the negative findings have driven the report behind a cloak of secrecy, with only a sanitized presentation to Congress made public. And efforts to evade public scrutiny have included evading the scrutiny by UN-mandated inspectors, still excluded from Iraq.

Greenpeace scientist Dr. Rianne Teule measures radioactive levels of a device from the nearby Tuwaitha nuclear facility. The device, abandoned on a roadside, contains uranium oxide powder that is 1000 times background levels of radiation.

Even the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when asked to comment on Friday, stated that it has not been given a copy of the classified report or the detailed findings of the US team. Like the rest of us, the IAEA has access only to Kay's public testimony to Congress, as posted on the CIA's web site.

The United Nations still has an inspection mandate in Iraq under the terms of Security Council Resolution 1441 and the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which means the US is required to provide all information regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to the IAEA.

Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesman for the IAEA, stated: "We cannot comment on Dr. Kay's report without access to the detailed findings of his group".

Gwozdecky further stated that: "We therefore expect that Dr. Kay's findings will be shared with us in accordance with paragraph 10 of Security Council resolution 1441 and this will enable us to fulfil our responsibilities".

Iraq's failure to comply with Security Council resolutions, and its alleged failure to reveal information concerning weapons of mass destruction, were among the top reasons given by the US as justifications for invading Iraq.

Dr. Hans Blix, former head of the UN's hunt for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, has warned against "another epidemic of spin" by the US and UK on the heels of the Kay report. Commenting to The Independent newspaper, Blix said that nothing found by the Iraq Survey Group validated the "serious and current threat" presented by the US and UK before going to war.

The continuing exclusion of the IAEA from Iraq by the USA represents a major breach of international law and exacerbates a dangerous situation. A Greenpeace mission to Baghdad in June revealed the US had been criminally lax in securing nuclear materials from looting. Near the Tuwaitha nuclear installation, we found 4-5 kilograms of uranium oxide (yellow cake)-- incapable of being used in nuclear weapons but a radioactive hazard -- alongside a roadway, radiation sources 3000 times above normal "background" levels near schools, and individual homes with radiation "sources" up to 10,000 times over normal.

Impoverished local residents had taken 55-gallon drums from the facility to use as stoves and for water storage, in some cases dumping out nuclear materials unaware that dangerous radioactivity remained.

US efforts to secure oil wells were far more intensive than those to protect the IAEA-monitored nuclear facility, which went unguarded in the immediate aftermath of the invasion.

"The US government is exhibiting extreme schizophrenic behaviour with regards to weapons of mass destruction" said Tom Clements of Greenpeace. "They're violating UN Security Council resolutions by refusing access to UN inspection teams, basically doing a very good imitation of the behaviour of Saddam Hussein. On top of that, Bush's own provocative rush to create new weapons of mass destruction is proceeding through the Congress".

The US Senate recently approved research to proceed on "bunker busters" -- earth-penetrating mini-nukes -- one-fifth the size of the Hiroshima bomb of 20,000 tonnes of dynamite. At the same time, lawmakers also voted to allow the US Department of Energy to get ready for nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site and to continue planning for a new factory that would build the plutonium "pits," or cores of all nuclear weapons.

The nuclear arms race is back, thanks to George Bush's decision to break into a sprint. And it won't be long until the rest of the pack decides it needs to keep up. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov stated last week that Russia "would not rule out a pre-emptive military strike anywhere in the world if the national interest demands it," confirming that the US precedent of embracing pre-emptive war-fighting strategies has now become the worldwide standard.

More information

David Kay's unclassified public statement of the Iraq Survey's findings.

IAEA web site on Iraq & the search for WMD, including Security Council resolutions.

DOE fact sheet on plans for a new nuclear bomb factory ("Modern Pit Facility") and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) now being prepared on it.

Mission Iraq: weblog of Greenpeace's journey to Tuwaitha

Bunker busters: a whole new nuclear ballgame.

Take action

Tell US Secretary of State Colin Powell that it's time the US honoured Security Council Resolution 1441 and allowed UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq. Given that David Kay's Iraq Survey Group has failed to find any sign of weapons of mass destruction, UN inspectors should be allowed immediately back in to proceed with their work and report on their findings. Failure to allow the UN inspectors back in will further erode US credibility and raise legitimate questions about why the US is afraid to let the UN's work be concluded.

Leave a message asking the return of UN weapons inspectors at the State Department.