The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs.
Is it me or is that kind of vague. Parts for making centrifuges? I’m getting skeptical for all news about Iraq, pro or con. And BB, there is definitely a difference between WMDs and equipment that can POTENTIALLY be used to make them. It’s something to be wary of, but it’s hardly the same.[/quote]
True, but here are some of the relevant quotes from the original NYT article:
[i]In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein’s most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government’s first extensive comments on the looting.
The Iraqi official, Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, said it appeared that a highly organized operation had pinpointed specific plants in search of valuable equipment, some of which could be used for both military and civilian applications, and carted the machinery away.
Dr. Araji said his account was based largely on observations by government employees and officials who either worked at the sites or lived near them.
“They came in with the cranes and the lorries, and they depleted the whole sites,” Dr. Araji said. “They knew what they were doing; they knew what they want. This was sophisticated looting.”
The threat posed by these types of facilities was cited by the Bush administration as a reason for invading Iraq, but the installations were left largely unguarded by allied forces in the chaotic months after the invasion.
Dr. Araji’s statements came just a week after a United Nations agency disclosed that approximately 90 important sites in Iraq had been looted or razed in that period.
Satellite imagery analyzed by two United Nations groups - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or Unmovic - confirms that some of the sites identified by Dr. Araji appear to be totally or partly stripped, senior officials at those agencies said. Those officials said they could not comment on all of Dr. Araji’s assertions, because the groups had been barred from Iraq since the invasion.
For nearly a year, the two agencies have sent regular reports to the United Nations Security Council detailing evidence of the dismantlement of Iraqi military installations and, in a few cases, the movement of Iraqi gear to other countries. In addition, a report issued last October by the chief American arms inspector in Iraq, Charles A. Duelfer, told of evidence of looting at crucial sites.
The disclosures by the Iraqi ministry, however, added new information about the thefts, detailing the timing, the material taken and the apparent skill shown by the thieves.
Dr. Araji said equipment capable of making parts for missiles as well as chemical, biological and nuclear arms was missing from 8 or 10 sites that were the heart of Iraq’s dormant program on unconventional weapons. After the invasion, occupation forces found no unconventional arms, and C.I.A. inspectors concluded that the effort had been largely abandoned after the Persian Gulf war in 1991. [/i]