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> Sarin gas discovered in Iraq, A sign of escalation?
Aquilla
post May 17 2004, 04:30 PM
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Reuters is reporting statements made by the US Army that a shell containing Sarin gas was discovered in a IED this past Saturday in Baghdad. From the report....

QUOTE
A small amount of the nerve agent sarin was found in a shell that exploded in Iraq (news - web sites), the U.S. army said Monday in the first announcement of discovery of any of the weapons on which Washington made its case for war.
 
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told a news conference the substance had been found in an artillery shell inside a bag discovered by a U.S. convoy a few days ago. The round had exploded, causing a small release of the substance, he said.


"The Iraq Survey Group has confirmed today that a 155 (mm) artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found. The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) that was discovered by a U.S. force convoy," he said.



Luckily, nobody was injured when this shell went off, but it is an omnious sign.

Are we about to find out what happened to Iraq's WMD the hard way, or is this an aberration?
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keric
post May 17 2004, 04:45 PM
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To add a little more information to Aquilla's query:

Coming across the news now in the wake of the Sarin gas discovery, the Iraq Survey Group is saying they found mustard gas two weeks ago in another artillary shell IED in Baghdad.

I always have believed Saddam had WMDs in his arsenal, and apparently they're starting to appear.

What catches my attention is that the sarin shell was not marked. Given that the insurgents have been looting ammo dumps for the ammunition they need for fighting, how many more unmarked rounds are there (in their possession and in the ammo dumps)? Given the fickle patience of the American people, I wonder if they would have enough patience as the ISG went through every single artillary round in Iraq (and they say there is tens of thousands of tons of ammunition to go through).....
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amf
post May 17 2004, 04:58 PM
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It's too early to know how accurate the reports are, but I'm going to go out on a limb here as I've done with other "reports" of WMD in Iraq:

It's not accurate. They detected something that registered a "positive" the way sarin would, but it wasn't sarin. It's just my guess. But, so far, guessing that way has turned out to be more right than not.

I think the reports are premature.
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Irwin
post May 17 2004, 05:06 PM
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QUOTE(amf @ May 17 2004, 04:58 PM)
It's not accurate.  They detected something that registered a "positive" the way sarin would, but it wasn't sarin.  It's just my guess.  But, so far, guessing that way has turned out to be more right than not.

You maybe correct. Time will tell on that.

But, if this was Sarin and was in an unmarked shell, then maybe this is what happened to the missing bio/chem weapons. They are sitting in stockpiles with what we thought were conventional weapons. Certainly seems totally possible and would be an understandable strategy for the former Iraqi government to use in their avoidance of UN inspections.

This post has been edited by Irwin: May 17 2004, 05:19 PM
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keric
post May 17 2004, 05:13 PM
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QUOTE(amf @ May 17 2004, 11:58 AM)
It's too early to know how accurate the reports are, but I'm going to go out on a limb here as I've done with other "reports" of WMD in Iraq:

It's not accurate.  They detected something that registered a "positive" the way sarin would, but it wasn't sarin.  It's just my guess.  But, so far, guessing that way has turned out to be more right than not.

I think the reports are premature.

They found the IED a few days ago and have tested it (apparently the shell was intact after the IED went off and handed over to the ISG).

It is confirmed to be sarin gas, just as the mustard gas was confirmed to be mustard gas. I'm sure the Democrats and the ABB crowd don't want to hear this, but it's been confirmed.

This post has been edited by keric: May 17 2004, 05:14 PM
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Aquilla
post May 17 2004, 05:22 PM
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QUOTE(keric @ May 17 2004, 10:13 AM)
They found the IED a few days ago and have tested it (apparently the shell was intact after the IED went off and handed over to the ISG).

It is confirmed to be sarin gas, just as the mustard gas was confirmed to be mustard gas. I'm sure the Democrats and the ABB crowd don't want to hear this, but it's been confirmed.

I would prefer not to turn this into just another political discussion, we have more than enough of those open already. dry.gif

Past reports have been mainly "quick and dirty" field tests that have turned false positives (and it's better to have a false positive than the other way around), but this one seems to be pretty definitive from the statements made. I don't know what the process is for testing for this stuff, but they've had since last Saturday to do their thing on it and the General at the briefing seemed pretty positive that it was the real deal.

I'd really like to keep this thread on the topic of whether or not people expect that we could be seeing more of these things in the coming days. If so, it's a pretty serious escalation.
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popeye47
post May 17 2004, 05:22 PM
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QUOTE(Irwin @ May 17 2004, 01:06 PM)
QUOTE(amf @ May 17 2004, 04:58 PM)
It's not accurate.  They detected something that registered a "positive" the way sarin would, but it wasn't sarin.  It's just my guess.  But, so far, guessing that way has turned out to be more right than not.

You maybe correct. Time will tell on that.

But, if this was Sarin and was in an unmarked shell, then maybe this is what happened to the missing bio/chem weapons. They are sitting in stockpiles with what we thought were conventual weapons. Certainly seems totally possible and would be an understandable strategy for the former Iraqi government to use in their avoidance of UN inspections.

So how many times have we found the WMDS? wacko.gif

The first time I remember was the trailers that could have been used and someone in the Bush Adminstration said that was the WMDS. w00t.gif

Since then there have been countless reports in the news about finding WMDS or something similar to WMDS.

So ever so often we get another report.

I am not saying this is another bogus report but how about getting more confirmation or facts before releasing another scare.

The Bush adminstration or his followers are straining so hard to find anything that resembles any weapons.

Remember the story about the boy that hollered wolf too many times. That same principle may be applied here.
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kalabus
post May 17 2004, 05:24 PM
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Its 1 shell. Not an epidemic (not a stockile). Insurgents have been firing mortars and using IED's forever and they happened to stumble onto a shell (probably pre 91) and use it.

To be honest as of now this is a scrap of evidence. It should be treated as an anomaly because nothing suggests otherwise. It is 1 shell. It's not indicative of anything. I dont see how 1 shell fired in the over 1 year since the invasion is now going to be a sign of some big nuclear movement. Its needless hysteria just like the march to war.

The truly bad thing is that this fluke is going to make the army overeact and leaders panic as it always does and you will have soldiers wearing MOPP gear level 4 in the Iraqi sun in fear of another needle in a haystack. The people who used it knew less about it then we did in all probability. After all the attacks and attempted attacks the US army has been through I find it insane that now we expect the apocalypse because 1 single solitary mortar round exploded.

Is this shell the only one of its kind? No, but it isnt vindication it isnt imminent threat and it isnt the beginning of anything. I have no doubt some more of these exist but this is minor. It was a forgotten shell that was obtained and used by coincidence.
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keric
post May 17 2004, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE(kalabus @ May 17 2004, 12:24 PM)
Its 1 shell. Not an epidemic (not a stockile). Insurgents have been firing mortars and using IED's forever and they happened to stumble onto a shell (probably pre 91) and use it.

To be honest as of now this is a scrap of evidence. It should be treated as an anomaly because nothing suggests otherwise. It is 1 shell. It's not indicative of anything. I dont see how 1 shell fired in the over 1 year since the invasion is now going to be a sign of some big nuclear movement. Its needless hysteria just like the march to war.

The truly bad thing is that this fluke is going to make the army overeact and leaders panic as it always does and you will have soldiers wearing MOPP gear level 4 in the Iraqi sun in fear of another needle in a haystack. The people who used it knew less about it then we did in all probability. After all the attacks and attempted attacks the US army has been through I find it insane that now we expect the apocalypse because 1 single solitary mortar round exploded.

Is this shell the only one of its kind? No, but it isnt vindication it isnt imminent threat and it isnt the beginning of anything. I have no doubt some more of these exist but this is minor. It was a forgotten shell that was obtained and used by coincidence.

It's more then one shell, and the two bombs found so far are made from artillary shells that were unmarked, resembling normal artillary munitions. Given the level of cover-up reported in David Kay's report, and the fact that these rounds are disguised as regular rounds....

Apparently 155 MM artillary rounds are one of the most common components of Saddam's ammunitions dumps as well.

This post has been edited by keric: May 17 2004, 05:32 PM
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Government Mule
post May 17 2004, 05:39 PM
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The most plausible explanation is that it was a mismarked and misplaced shell. If the insurgents knew they had a Sarin filled shell, you have to think they would have tried to use it in a more serious attack, such as launching it into a known area of Americans.

We will see more accidental uses of mustard and/or sarin gas, but if this was an orchestrated effort to use such weapons, it would have happened a long time ago.
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Vermillion
post May 17 2004, 05:40 PM
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Firstly, as has happened several times before, some preliminary news comes out and both sides leap to show how this 'proves' their side of the argument. As amf pointed out, this may well turn into yet another hoax or false positive, like all those that passed before it.

However, it might also turn out to be true. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq has released a stement that the shell did contain trace elements of binary sarin. He also declared that "He said he believed that insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn't know it contained the nerve agent, and that the dispersal of the nerve agent from such a rigged device was very limited."

As it was a binary shell, exploding it as a roadside bomb was a complete waste, the compounds are intended to mix in flight after initial firing (the two seperate compounds are individually benign). The people who set off the roadside bomb were either unaware that it was a sarin shell, or they are complete idiots.

Oh, and I did a bit of looking for this report of 'mustard gas' found in Iraq you mentioned, and all I could find was two reports of mustard gas shells being founf, one in january, one in february, both of which turned out to be false. I have no idea where this recent 'find' you mention came from, and the major news outlets around the world seem to have missed it...

So, given that, what do we know FOR SURE?


It makes no sense to NOT mark a nerve has shell as such, for exactly the reasons we just saw, the users of the shell completely misused it. It also makes no sense to deliberatly 'hide' such a thing in a way that it cannot be recovered.

We know Iraq HAD nerve gas shells back in the day, they reported them all destroyed. Given what we know for sure, even if this turns out to be a real positive chemical weapon, as opposed to all the false positives we have seen, this means very little with regards to any supposed 'wider existence' of WMDs. I am sure the right will wish to draw massive conclusions based on this, just as they have every time such a discovery was made before (before going strangely silent when they all turned out to be false) but it is not realistic to draw any wider conclusions from it.

Dispite keric's insistance, it is just 1 shell, the other shells detonated in the roadside bomb were all conventional, more evidence that the terrorists had no idea what they had. (You do not detonate chemical and conventional weapons together, it limits the chemical effect)

This post has been edited by Vermillion: May 17 2004, 05:42 PM
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keric
post May 17 2004, 05:47 PM
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QUOTE(Vermillion @ May 17 2004, 12:40 PM)
Firstly, as has happened several times before, some preliminary news comes out and both sides leap to show how this 'proves' their side of the argument. As amf pointed out, this may well turn into yet another hoax or false positive, like all those that passed before it.

However, it might also turn out to be true. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq has released a stement that the shell did contain trace elements of binary sarin. He also declared that  "He said he believed that insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn't know it contained the nerve agent, and that the dispersal of the nerve agent from such a rigged device was very limited."

As it was a binary shell, exploding it as a roadside bomb was a complete waste, the compounds are intended to mix in flight after initial firing (the two seperate compounds are individually benign). The people who set off the roadside bomb were either unaware that it was a sarin shell, or they are complete idiots.

Oh, and I did a bit of looking for this report of 'mustard gas' found in Iraq you mentioned, and all I could find was two reports of mustard gas shells being founf, one in january, one in february, both of which turned out to be false. I have no idea where this recent 'find' you mention came from, and the major news outlets around the world seem to have missed it...

So, given that, what do we know FOR SURE?


It makes no sense to NOT mark a nerve has shell as such, for exactly the reasons we just saw, the users of the shell completely misused it. It also makes no sense to deliberatly 'hide' such a thing in a way that it cannot be recovered.

We know Iraq HAD nerve gas shells back in the day, they reported them all destroyed. Given what we know for sure, even if this turns out to be a real positive chemical weapon, as opposed to all the false positives we have seen, this means very little with regards to any supposed 'wider existence' of WMDs. I am sure the right will wish to draw massive conclusions based on this, just as they have every time such a discovery was made before (before going strangely silent when they all turned out to be false) but it is not realistic to draw any wider conclusions from it.

The mustard gas was found two weeks ago, here let me be clearer for Vermillion:

T - W - O W - E - E - K - S

Not months, not years, two weeks ago.

The White House released the statement about an hour ago, that the mustard gas bomb had been found in Baghdad two weeks ago and the ISG had confirmed it to be mustard gas.

As for the terrorists using it in an IED, I stated in the 'did they lie' thread that I don't believe the terrorists knew what they had else they would have used it in a mortar. As sarin gas spreads more effectively and deadly in the air, then from an IED explosion.That given that the shell was unmarked and looked identical to a regular explosive round that they took it from one of the many ammunition dumps unknowingly.
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moif
post May 17 2004, 05:52 PM
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I don't believe that even with the best intentions it would have been possible to completely rid a nation the size of Iraq, of all its NBC munitions. The misplacement and lack of control that seems to be an ingredient of all munitions stockpiles is probably just as present in Iraq as it is every where else.

We've seen such lax control leading to all manner of NBC materials being smuggled out of the former soviet union, and there is nothing to indicate that Iraq was any better.

I bet there are hundreds of unaccounted for NBC munitions floating about in private stock piles all over Iraq.
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Vermillion
post May 17 2004, 06:04 PM
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QUOTE(keric @ May 17 2004, 05:47 PM)

The mustard gas was found two weeks ago, here let me be clearer for Vermillion:

T - W - O              W - E - E - K - S

Not months, not years, two weeks ago.


Thank you for repeating your assertion in big letters.

However, saying it multiple times does not make it more valid. I assume you can provide a news link evidencing this, I would certainly appreciate it as I have been unable to find a single reference to this 'discovery' of yours on any of the major news sites.


However, as I said in my previous post, EVEN IF this one shell (or even a second shell, assuming the mustarg gas keric asserts turns out to be real) does turn out to be real, given the ignorance around the use of the shell, it seems unlikely that this can be used to draw wider conclusions about WMD.

Oh and as a general FYI, and the use of the shell was not wasted because "sarin spreads more effectively and deadly in the air, then from an IED explosion". The problem is that as the shell was never fired, the binary compounds never combined. Thus even if someone was standing right over the shell, they would at best be treated for minor exposure, as they would simply have been sprayed with the two benign binary agents.


edit to add:

QUOTE
(moif)I don't believe that even with the best intentions it would have been possible to completely rid a nation the size of Iraq, of all its NBC munitions.


This is quite correct, unknown and lost Mustard gas munitions have also been found in canada, Britain, Holland, France and Japan over the last 10 years, given the mass production of this agent over the last 80 years, it is common for these things to turn up. EVEN IF this report turns out to be true, it provides for only limited conclusions.

This post has been edited by Vermillion: May 17 2004, 06:08 PM
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amf
post May 17 2004, 06:41 PM
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QUOTE(Vermillion @ May 17 2004, 02:04 PM)
This is quite correct, unknown and lost Mustard gas munitions have also been found in canada, Britain, Holland, France and Japan over the last 10 years, given the mass production of this agent over the last 80 years, it is common for these things to turn up. EVEN IF this report turns out to be true, it provides for only limited conclusions.

As more information pours in (Sarin-Filled Munitions in Iraq Worry U.S.):

QUOTE
U.S. officials believe, based on evidence, that the shell was an experimental munition produced before the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites), called a "binary type," the official said.

<snip>

But [David] Kay, the former head of that group, said it appears that the shell was one of tens of thousands produced for the Iran-Iraq war, which Saddam was supposed to destroy or turn over to the United Nations (news - web sites). In many cases, he said, Iraq did comply.

"It is hard to know if this is one that just was overlooked — and there were always some that were overlooked, we knew that — or if this was one that came from a hidden stockpile," Kay said. "I rather doubt that because it appears the insurgents didn't even know they had a chemical round."

While Saturday's explosion does demonstrate that Saddam hadn't complied fully with U.N. resolutions, Kay also said, "It doesn't strike me as a big deal."
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Beladonna
post May 17 2004, 07:09 PM
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QUOTE(Vermillion @ May 17 2004, 02:04 PM)
I assume you can provide a news link evidencing this, I would certainly appreciate it as I have been unable to find a single reference to this 'discovery' of yours on any of the major news sites.


Here you go Vermillion. I found it by using a combination "mustard gas Iraq" in the "Google" search engine.

QUOTE
Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."

Chemical Weapons found in Iraq
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Vermillion
post May 17 2004, 07:29 PM
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QUOTE(Beladonna @ May 17 2004, 07:09 PM)

Here you go Vermillion.  I found it by using a combination "mustard gas Iraq" in the "Google" search engine.

Thank you for that. After a some searching, I also found a couple other sites carrying similar news. I say similar because Foxnews seems to have its own take on the story. Here are several independent versions from a few other non-Fox sites:

"WASHINGTON — A small amount of residue from mustard gas, a potentially deadly chemical agent, was found in an old artillery shell on a Baghdad street, says a U.S. military report.

The shell was from a “very old stockpile,” and for that reason experts didn't consider it evidence that former dictator Saddam Hussein was hiding illegal stockpiles of chemical weapons, said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the matter is classified.

The report, obtained Thursday by Knight Ridder Newspapers, said tests identified the substance as mustard gas residue. The official confirmed that and said more tests were under way." (KCStar - May 7th)


"TRACES of mustard, a potentially deadly chemical agent, have been found in an old artillery shell on a Baghdad street, according to a US military report.

But because the shell was from a "very old stockpile", it is not considered evidence that former dictator Saddam Hussein was hiding illegal stockpiles of chemical weapons, said a senior official, who asked not to be identified as the find is classified information. (Herald - May 8th)


Similar reports, all making the same references to the US report, exist on sites in Canada, the UK, Australia and so on...


Thus, I think, since the US military explicitly states this is NOT evidence of WMD in Iraq, we can discount this Mustard gas tale and get back to the actual debate, the sarin shell recently mis-used in a roadside bomb.
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unabomber
post May 17 2004, 07:30 PM
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QUOTE(Vermillion @ May 17 2004, 12:04 PM)
QUOTE
(moif)I don't believe that even with the best intentions it would have been possible to completely rid a nation the size of Iraq, of all its NBC munitions.


This is quite correct, unknown and lost Mustard gas munitions have also been found in canada, Britain, Holland, France and Japan over the last 10 years, given the mass production of this agent over the last 80 years, it is common for these things to turn up.

you forgot america. just a few years ago while the EPA was cleaning rocky flats here in colorado they found sarin bomblets that the government thought were destroyed.

as to the main question, I do not think this is indicative of large numbers of WMDs. as has been pointed out, it is KNOWN that Iraq had chem weapons in the late 80's early 90's and used them during the Iran-Iraq war. as the case of rocky flats shows, ordinance can be misplaced sometimes. these are shells that saddam said were destroyed in the early 90's. I think it is most likely these were misplaced somehow and ended up in a regular ammo dump. even AMERICA has lost a few bomblets over the years!
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Doclotus
post May 17 2004, 07:34 PM
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As one of the articles commented, its possible that the insurgents in possession of the rounds didn't even know it was a chem weapon (which is both sad and frightening).

Both of the munitions referenced thus far seem to predate the first Gulf War so I think we're lacking the "smoking gun" (pardon the pun) that is still being searched for.

I think the Sarin shell and the assassination of the IGC president do have me a little worried that things are going to escalate in the next 45 days leading up to the 6/30 handover. I hope I'm wrong.

Doc

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Amlord
post May 17 2004, 07:38 PM
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Let's keep things civil here. Remember, a good post will link any pertinent information, not leave it to the reader to discover this information on their own.

Question for Debate: Are we about to find out what happened to Iraq's WMD the hard way, or is this an aberration?
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