Thursday, June 26, 2003
Stopping to smell the roses: It was reported yesterday that an Iraqi scientist turned over to U.S. forces plans and parts for a gas centrifuge -- used for enriching uranium to make an atomic bomb.
What is known now by the CIA and other U.S. government officials ... is that the Iraqis, No. 1, were way ahead in developing this program, could have put it together with the components they had and the information in about three years, according to top nuclear scientists.
On the other hand, the scientist [Mahdi Obeidi] who turned it over to them said that there was no program after '91, that he was ordered in 1991, and other top nuclear scientists, to take various components and kits, as they were called, with the various plans and diagrams for this centrifuge and hide them.
He hid it under a rose bush in a barrel in his garden, and there it stayed for 12 years, and there he lied about it for 12 years until Baghdad fell to coalition forces, and at that point he decided he wanted to cooperate with the United States, and he did.
The International Atomic Energy Agency claims that the find is not a "smoking gun" because the centrifuge was not operable under the aforementioned rose bush.
This find should illustrate a several points:
First, inspectors never would have discovered this while Saddam Hussein was still in power. The eternal pleading for "more time" was bogus then and is even more bogus now.
Second, Saddam was fully prepared to build a nuke once inspectors had either: A) left, or B) been scaled down in size to where they were a negligible threat.
Third, the only way to ensure he never got a nuke was to depose him. There was never going to be the political will in the U.N. to maintain the sanctions in perpetuity, so eventually the meager constraints on Saddam would have been loosed.
You'd think that a find such as this would prompt some caution in the Nicolas Kristofs, Paul Krugmans and Richard Scheers of the world, who claim that Iraq was no danger to anyone (and certainly not us) and that we went to war with imperial designs.
Don't hold your breath.