Just saw this at the ABC News site. Looks like the Iraqi’s may have overstated what was at the Al-Qaqaa facility and these documents and not only that but the documents appear to support the contention that the vast bulk of these explosives were removed PRIOR to the OIF:
The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.
But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.
The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on “declaration” from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.
But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency’s inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.
The IAEA documents could mean that 138 tons of explosives were removed from the facility long before the start of the United States launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in March 2003.
Just who could they have been removed by? The Russians, perhaps?
But in a further development, John Shaw, a deputy under-secretary of defence, suggested that “Russian units” had transported the explosives out of the country.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Shaw said: “For nearly nine months my office has been aware of an elaborate scheme set up by Saddam Hussein to finance and disguise his weapons purchases through his international suppliers, principally the Russians and French. That network included. . . employing various Russian units on the eve of hostilities to orchestrate the collection of munitions and assure their transport out of Iraq via Syria.”
The Russian embassy in Washington rejected the claims as “nonsense”, saying there were no Russian military in the country at the time.
Mr Shaw, who heads the Pentagon’s international armament and technology trade directorate, has not provided evidence for his claims and the Pentagon distanced itself from his remarks.
Bill Gertz at the Washington Times has more.
My thoughts on the possibility it could have been the Russian army who moved the explosives: if this story is true and the admin knew about this, it’s understandable why they would be reluctant to go public with it and are only now talking about it after two days of non-stop criticism from the Kerry camp – they have been trying to repair diplomatic relations with Russia. I’m still not sure what to make of this development, but if Mr. Shaw provides concrete proof of this, Mr. Kerry is going to look like an absolute fool. Let’s remember: it’s not so far off to believe that the Russians were in Iraq around the time of the war, when you consider this story.
As far as the ABC News story goes, if true it would blow a HUGE hole in both the Iraqi claim that 380 tons of materials were “looted” (something they’ve not been able to back up with fact as of this writing) as well as Mohamed ElBaradei’s repeated assertions that were supposed to back up this claim. It may end up that this shines an unflattering light on him and his motivations. Even the Washington Post is suspicious. My friends, I think this “scandal” is getting ready to be blown right out of the water and hopefully when all the smoke clears, the President will be redeemed.