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Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence (80)
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions (19)
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda (23)
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq (18)

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (95)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
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Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq: Iraq's alleged arsenal of WMDs

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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1991-1997

       Under the supervision of UNSCOM weapons inspectors, Iraq destroys more than 38,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions, 690 tons of chemical warfare agents, over 3,000 tons of precursor chemicals, more than 400 pieces of production equipment, 48 missiles, 6 missile launchers, and 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological agents. [Congressional Research Service Reports, 4/98; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; Foreign Policy in Focus, 8/02 Sources: UNSCOM report, S/1998/332, April 16, 1998] After cross-referencing weapons-making materials found in Iraq with sales records from other countries, UNSCOM inspectors conclude that at least 90% of Iraq's weapons have been destroyed or dismantled. Chief UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter believes that a good portion of the remaining 10% was destroyed during the First Gulf War, thus leaving only a small fraction unaccounted for. [Pitt, 7/24/02; Newsday, 7/30/02]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter
          

August 22, 1995

       Hussein Kamel, Iraq's former minister of military industry—who was Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and who had overseen Saddam's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile weapons programs for almost a decade—is interviewed shortly after defecting by UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus, Professor Maurizio Zifferero, deputy director of the Internal Atomic Energy Agency,and Nikita Smidovick of UNSCOM. During the interview, Kamel says that Iraq had destroyed all of its banned weapons after the First Gulf War. “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed,” he tells his interviewers. With regard to Anthrax, which Kamel says had been the “main focus” of Iraq's biological program, Kamel says, “nothing remained.” Regarding the nerve gas, VX, Kamel says, “they put it in bombs during last days of the Iran-Iraq war. They were not used and the program was terminated.” When asked if the program had been reconstituted, Kamel replies, “We changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine ... We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons.” On the issue of prohibited missiles, Kamel states: “[N]ot a single missile left but they had blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed.” Kamel also says that inspections worked in Iraq. “You have important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq,” he reveals. [Sources: UNSCOM Interview with Hussein Kamel, August 22, 1995] But this information is not made public. Newsweek reports in March 2003 that according to its sources, “Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the UN inspectors ... for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more.” [Newsweek, 3/3/03; Scotsman, 2/24/03] Kamel also says that Khidhir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected in 1994 and who will be a source for claims regarding Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is “a professional liar.” “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions,” he tells his interviewers. “He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.” [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] At around the same time, Kamel is also interviewed by the CIA and Britain's MI6. According to sources interviewed by Newsweek, Kamel provides them with the same information. [Newsweek, 3/3/03; Scotsman, 2/24/03 Sources: Unnamed sources] But after this is revealed on February 24, 2003 by Newsweek's John Barry, the CIA issues a strong denial. “It is incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue,” CIA spokesman Bill Harlow will say. [Reuters, 2/24/03]
People and organizations involved: Nikita Smidovick, Rolf Ekeus, Maurizio Zifferero, Hussein Kamel, Bill Harlow, John Barry
          

October 6, 1997

       Hans Blix, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, writes in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that there is no evidence that Iraq has an active nuclear weapons program. Blix says that the agency now has a “technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program,” despite some missing evidence and gaps in knowledge. He states with certainty the following: [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]
“There are no indications to suggest that Iraq was successful in its attempt to produce nuclear weapons. Iraq's explanation of its progress towards the finalization of a workable design for its nuclear weapons is considered to be consistent with the resources and time scale indicated by the available program documentation. However, no documentation or other evidence is available to show the actual status of the weapon design when the program was interrupted.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“Iraq was at, or close to, the threshold of success in such areas as the production of HEU [high-enriched uranium] through the EMIS [electromagnetic isotope separation] process, the production and pilot cascading of single-cylinder sub-critical gas centrifuge machines, and the fabrication of the explosive package for a nuclear weapon.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“There are no indications to suggest that Iraq had produced more that a few grams of weapon-usable nuclear material (HEU or separated plutonium) through its indigenous processes, all of which has been removed from Iraq.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“There are no indications that Iraq otherwise acquired weapon-usable nuclear material.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“All of the safeguarded research reactor fuel, including the HEU fuel that Iraq had planned to divert to its ‘crash program,’ was verified and fully accounted for by the IAEA and removed from Iraq.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

“There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.” [Sources: IAEA Letter UN, 10/6/1997]

People and organizations involved: International Atomic Energy Agency, Iraq, Kofi Annan, Hans Blix
          

1998

       Expert committees report that Iraq has failed to adequately account for 500 mustard-gas shells, 25 “special warheads,” 150 aerial bombs, 2 scud missiles, 520 kilograms of yeast extract growth medium specifically for anthrax, 15,000 122 mm artillery shells, 25,000 rockets and several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX. [BBC, 9/11/02; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 6/02; Newsmax, 9/4/02]
25 Special Warheads - Iraq failed to account for 25 “special warheads” . Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter will tell the Christian Science Monitor in mid-2002, “Even if he hid some warheads, they would have degenerated by now.” [Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02]

Scud Missiles - Iraq has accounted for or destroyed 817 of its 819 Scud missiles. [Foreign Policy in Focus, 8/02; Christian Science Monitor, 8/29/02 Sources: Kofi Annan]
It is later suggested by experts, such as former UN inspector Scott Ritter and Charles Duelfer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that Iraq could possibly salvage and manufacture enough components to build up a store of between five and 25 missiles. [BBC, 9/11/02] But as the San Francisco Chronicle later notes, citing unspecified weapons experts, “there is no evidence that these have been tested or that Iraq has any functional launchers.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]
8,5000 liters of anthrax - Iraq maintains that these remaining stores of Anthrax were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991, however they offer no evidence of this. [Scotsman, 2/24/03]
Scott Ritter, a former Marine intelligence officer and chief weapons inspector, will later say that evidence indicates that Iraq's liquid bulk anthrax has not been produced by Iraq since 1991. Furthermore, he adds, the factory where Iraq had produced the pathogen was destroyed in 1996. He says that any anthrax produced before then is no longer a threat to anyone because after three years liquid bulk anthrax becomes “useless sludge.” [Reuters, 2/8/02]
Several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX - UNSCOM is unable to account for several hundred tons of chemicals for the nerve agent VX.
Iraq maintains that these remaining stocks were unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991. [Scotsman, 2/24/03] In March 2003, UNMOVIC, the successor to UNSCOM, will report “that Iraq's production method created nerve agent that lasted only six to eight weeks.” [Independent, 6/1/03] Critics believe that most of these stocks were destroyed during the First Gulf War. Scott Ritter, a former chief weapons inspector, speaking at the Suffolk Law School building in downtown Boston, will say on July of 2002: “The research and development factory is destroyed [a Gulf War bomb destroyed the production facility on January 23, 1991]. The product of that factory is destroyed. The weapons they loaded up have been destroyed. More importantly, the equipment procured from Europe that was going to be used for their large-scale VX nerve agent factory was identified by the special commission—still packed in its crates in 1997—and destroyed. Is there a VX nerve agent factory in Iraq today? Not on your life.” [Pitt, 7/24/02]
 Additional Info 
          

July 1998

       UNSCOM weapons inspector Richard Butler states, “If Iraqi disarmament were a five-lap race, we would be three quarters of the way around the fifth and final lap.” [Boston Globe, 3/22/99]
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook
          

March 1999

       A special panel of the UN Security Council reports that “the declared facilities of Iraq's biological weapons program have been destroyed and rendered harmless.” [Guardian, 5/15/02; Daily Mirror, 4/5/02]
          

2001-2003

       The US intelligence community—most notably the intelligence gatherers working in the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith (see September 2002) —bases several of its intelligence assessments concerning Iraq on information offered by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and by Iraqi defectors provided by the INC, despite warnings from the State Department and some CIA analysts that the lobbying group cannot be trusted. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] The INC's primary intelligence organization is its Information Collection Program (ICP), which conducts about 20 percent of all US intelligence's verbal debriefings of Iraqi prisoners, insurgents, and defectors. [Bamford, 2004, pp 336-337] Some of the INC's intelligence on Iraq is reportedly funneled directly to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney by Francis Brooke, the DC lobbyist for the group. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Francis Brooke, Memo] Brooke will later acknowedge that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney, Francis Brooke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney  Additional Info 
          

January 10, 2001

       During a National Press Club Newsmakers luncheon, outgoing Defense Secretary William Cohen says: “Well, Saddam Hussein's forces are in a state where he cannot pose a threat to his neighbors at this point. We have been successful, through the sanctions regime, to really shut off most of the revenue that will be going to build his—rebuild his military.” [Jordan Times, 2002; US Department of Defense, 1/10/01]
People and organizations involved: William S. Cohen
          

February 20, 2001

       At a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Colin Powell says that Iraq has been successfully contained. “What we and other allies have been doing in the region, have succeeded in containing Saddam Hussein and his ambitions. His forces are about one-third their original size. They don't really possess the capability to attack their neighbors the way they did ten years ago. ... Containment has been a successful policy.” [US Department of State, 2/20/2001]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Joschka Fischer
          

February 23, 2001

       During a press briefing held aboard a plane en route to Cairo, Egypt, Colin Powell says: “Though [the Iraqis] may be pursuing weapons of mass destruction of all kinds. It is not clear how successful they have been. We ought to declare [sanctions] a success. We have kept [Saddam Hussein] contained, kept him in his box.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1/28/2004; Time, 3/24/2003; US Department of State, 2/23/2001]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

February 24, 2001

       Secretary of State Colin Powell travels to Cairo and meets with his counterpart Amre Moussa. During a press conference, Powell says: “He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03; US Department of State, 2/24/03; Associated Press, 9/25/03] Some nineteen months later, when Powell is asked to explain why his assessment of Iraq had so drastically changed over such a short span of time, Powell says, “... I did not say he (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) didn't have weapons of mass destruction.... He was a threat then. The extent of his holdings were yet to be determined. It was early in the administration and the fact of the matter is it was long before 9/11 (the date of the 2001 attacks on the United States).... A lot changed between February 2001 (and the invasion), but I don't find anything inconsistent between what I said then and what I've said all along.” [US Department of State, 9/25/03; Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 9/25/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Amre Moussa
          

May 15, 2001

       Powell says that Saddam Hussein has not been able to “build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction” for “the last 10 years,” adding that the sanctions policy had successfully kept him “in a box.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

July 2001

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says, “Saddam does not control the northern part of the country. We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” [The Mirror, 9/22/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001

       The twenty-fourth negotiating session convenes to negotiate a proposal to add an enforcement and verification protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. For three days, representatives from more than 50 member-states speak favorably of ending the negotiations and adopting the protocol. The mechanism would require member-states to annually declare their biodefense facilities and programs as well as any industrial facilities with capabilities to produce microbial cultures in quantity. Additionally, all member-states would be subject to random inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made. Inspections would also be conducted if a facility is suspected of illegally producing bioweapons; there are allegations of bioweapons use; or in the event of a disease outbreak suspected to be the result of the activities of a bioweapons facility. But on July 25, US Ambassador Donald Mahley announces that the US will block any consensus on the proposed changes to the convention. “The United States has concluded that the current approach to a protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention . . . is not, in our view, capable of . . . strengthening confidence in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention,” he says. “We will therefore be unable to support the current text, even with changes.” US opposition to the convention is based on fears that inspections of US facilities might harm the profits of US biotech companies and impede the United States' current “biodefense” program. [Common Dreams, 8/5/02; CNN, 11/1/01; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/03; Counterpunch, 10/25/01 Sources: Statement by the United States to the Ad Hoc Group of Biological Weapons Convention States Parties]
People and organizations involved: Donald Mahley
          

September 4, 2001

       The New York Times reports: “Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a program of secret research on biological weapons that, some officials say, tests the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons. ... The projects, which have not been previously disclosed, were begun under President Clinton and have been embraced by the Bush administration, which intends to expand them.” The US claims that this research is needed to protect Americans from the threat posed by rogue nations or terrorist groups who may be developing such weapons. [New York Times, 9/4/01]
          

September 16, 2001

       Vice President Dick Cheney is asked by Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press if the US has evidence that Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists. Cheney responds: “There is—in the past, there have been some activities related to terrorism by Saddam Hussein. But at this stage, you know, the focus is over here on al-Qaeda and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point, but clearly, we continue to have a fairly tough policy where the Iraqis are concerned.” [White House, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

October 4, 2001

       Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control testifies in Congress before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and the South Asia Committee on International Relations that Iraq “is still committed to developing weapons of mass destruction.” He states: “Iraq has become self-sufficient in biological weaponry; it possesses the strains, growth media and infrastructure necessary to build a biological arsenal. Iraq also retains stocks of chemical agent from the period of the Gulf War and is known to have all the elements of a workable nuclear weapon except the fissile material needed to fuel it. Iraq's authorized program for developing short-range missiles will also enable the building of longer-range missiles, and Iraq is showing an interest in cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, apparently to deliver chemical or biological payloads.” [US House of Representatives, 10/4/01; United Press International, 1/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Gary Milhollin
          

Early November 2001

       According to a September 2002 USA Today article, the decision to invade Iraq is made at this time. Significantly, the decision is made independent of normal policy-making procedures—a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq was not requested, members of Congress were not consulted, and the concerns of senior military officers and intelligence analysts were ignored. Explaining why the White House did not request a NIE on Iraq, an unnamed US intelligence official explains it didn't want to detail the uncertainties regarding the threat Iraq allegedly poses to the US. A senior administration official says the White House did not believe an NIE would be helpful. However in September 2002, an NIE will finally be requested as a result of pressure from Congress. The classified version of the document will include many qualified and nuanced statements, but the shorter, unclassified version, which is given to Congress, will not include these uncertainties (see October 1, 2002). [USA Today, 9/10/02 Sources: officials at the White House, State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies, Congress and elsewhere]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, US Congress
          

November 14, 2001

       The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) says in a report, according to INR official Greg Thielmann, that “there is no persuasive evidence that the Iraqi nuclear program is being reconstituted.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research
          

November 19, 2001-December 7, 2001

       The Fifth Review Conference for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention convenes in Geneva, Switzerland. The primary objective of the conference is to complete the negotiation of an enforcement and verification protocol. Member-states, known as the “Ad Hoc Group,” had previously attempted to do this during a forum in July, but the efforts had been blocked by the US (see July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001). The proposed change to the Convention would, among other things (see July 23, 2001-July 25, 2001), require mandatory inspections of any plant where biological weapons could be made—including sites located in the United States. For six years, the US has opposed this proposal. At the very end of the Review Conference, the Bush admininistration proposes to eliminate the Ad Hoc Group and terminate the protocol negotiations completely. The proposal is rejected by other members, but the action effectively blocks consensus on the conference's Final Declaration. To prevent the outright failure of the Review Conference, the chairman suspends negotiations until November 2002. [Common Dreams, 8/5/02; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/03; Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2/2002]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

December 20, 2001

       Zaab Sethna of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) arranges Iraqi defector Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri to be interviewed by Judith Miller of the New York Times. Miller, who has known Chalabi for about eight years (see May 1, 2003), immediately flies out to Bangkok for the interview. Her story is published on December 20, just three days after Haideri told his story to a CIA agent who subjected him to a polygraph and determined Haideri's story was a complete fabrication (see December 17, 2001). Miller's front-page article, titled “An Iraqi defector tells of work on at least 20 hidden weapons sites,” reports: “An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer, said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago.” If verified, Miller notes, “his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so.” Sethna also contacts freelance journalist Paul Moran. Moran is a former employee of the INC and has been employed for years by the Rendon Group, a firm specializing in “perception management.” Moran's on-camera interview with Haideri is broadcasted worldwide by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. [Rolling Stone, 11/17/2005; New York Times, 12/20/01; New York Review of Books 2/26/04; SBS Dateline, 7/23/2003]
People and organizations involved: Zaab Sethna, Ahmed Chalabi, Judith Miller, Paul Moran, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri
          

2002

       An unnamed senior CIA operative will later allege in a lawsuit that in 2002, his superiors instructed him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction because it was “contrary” to “official CIA dogma” and “the politically mandated conclusion.” When the operative refuses to change his reporting, the “management” of the CIA's Counterproliferation Division orders that he “remove himself from any further ‘handling’” of the unnamed asset, who the CIA regards as “a highly respected human asset.” The operative will also allege that CIA managers retaliated in response to his refusal to obey their orders. [Washington Post, 12/9/2004, pp A02 Sources: US District Court for District of Columbia, 12/6/2004]
          

2002-March 2003

       An unnamed CIA case officer with the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) later says: “I was working from the headquarters end in our Iraqi operations. In talking to the specialists, people who had worked on Iraqi issues or Iraq WMD for years, they said to me, ‘I always knew we didn't have anything.’ This was before the war. But I mean, it was sort of horrific to me. ... I talked to analysts and I talked to WMD experts, and I said, ‘Okay, is there a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq?’ ‘No, there's not a link.’ ‘Do we have evidence of all this WMD we're talking about?’ ‘No, we don't have it.’ And then it was like a snowball, and all of a sudden we were at war. Everybody that I was talking to who did know about the issues were saying we didn't have anything. And of course nobody's speaking up. Who can they speak up to? There's no forum for someone who's involved in operations to talk to anyone and say, ‘We don't have any Iraqi assets, we don't have information on WMD, we don't have anything there.’ But yet we all kind of knew it. ... I understand that it [CIA] serves the President and the administration, but my thought is that it should serve the President and the administration in providing intelligence. And what has happened is that it serves the agenda—or at least for the Bush administration it's serving the agenda of this administration, which is not what the CIA is supposed to do.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 336-337]
          

(2002-2003)

       An unnamed CIA case officer with the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) will later say with regard to Iraq's alleged arsenal of WMD: “Where I was working, I never saw anything—no one else there did either.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 333]
          

2002 and after

       Diplomats working in Britain's Foreign Office are aware that US and British statements concerning Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction are “totally implausible.” Carne Ross, a key Foreign Office diplomat, tells the Guardian in mid-2005: “I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too.” [Guardian, 6/20/05]
People and organizations involved: British Foreign Office, Carne Ross
          

2002 and after

       Diplomats working in Britain's Foreign Office are aware that US and British statements concerning Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction are “totally implausible.” Carne Ross, a key Foreign Office diplomat, tells the Guardian in mid-2005: “I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too.” [Guardian, 6/20/05]
People and organizations involved: Carne Ross, British Foreign Office
          

January 2002

       A CIA report on global weapons technology proliferation fails to mention Iraq as a nuclear threat. The report only says, “We believe that Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D [research and development] associated with its nuclear program.” [New Republic, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

2002-2003

       In the lead-up to the war, top Bush administration officials make strong statements asserting that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. The administration claims that it has incontrovertible evidence, though no such evidence is disclosed to the public—neither before nor after the invasion. [CBC News, 12/5/02; AP, 12/5/03; CNN, 2/5/03; Newsmax 9/8/02; Associated Press 9/8/02; UPI 9/3/02; Associated Press 9/3/02; Centcom, 9/3/02; AP, 1/7/03b; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 7/17/03; Village Voice, 6/18/03; Guardian 8/22/02; Telegraph 8/21/02; Fox News, 8/20/03; US President, 3/17/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03; White House, 1/9/03; White House, 3/21/03; White House, 10/7/02; US Department of State, 2/5/03; Sunday Herald, 7/13/03; Chicago Tribune 2/7/02; US Vice President 8/26/02; PBS, 9/12/02; The Age (Australia), 6/7/03; White House, 9/12/02]
 Additional Info 
          

2002

       The CIA clandestine service's European division chief meets with a German intelligence officer to discuss intelligence that has been provided by an Iraqi source known as “Curveball” Curveball alleges that Iraq previously had mobile biological weapons labs. But according to the German, it is not clear “whether Curveball was actually telling the truth.” [Washington Post, 5/21/2005] Vincent Cannistraro, a former counter-terrorism specialist, will tell the New Yorker in 2004 that the CIA believes the person who set Curveball up with the Germans was Aras Habib, the INC intelligence chief later accused of providing US intelligence to Iran. “The CIA is positive of it,” he says. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Aras Habib
          

January 30, 2002

       The CIA sends Congress an unclassified report stating, “Baghdad may be attempting to acquire materials that could aid in reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program.” [New Yorker, 10/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

February 11, 2002

       Former CIA Director James Woolsey telephones Deputy Asistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells to arrange a meeting between Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysts and Mohammad Harith, an Iraqi defector being supplied by the Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] After the phone call, Wells issues an “executive referral,” requesting that the Iraqi National Congress (INC) introduce Harith to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). [Reuters, 2/18/04; Knight Ridder, 7/16/04 Sources: Classified Pentagon report] Later in the day, two DIA officers meet with Ahmed Chalabi to arrange an interview with Harith. In an email to Knight Ridder Newspapers, Wells will later recall, “I discussed the issue of an individual with information on Iraq weapons of mass destruction with intelligence community members. They said they would follow up. I never met with any member of the INC.” [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Linton Wells, Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress, James Woolsey
          

Between February 12, 2002 and March 31, 2002

       After several meetings with Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002) —an Iraqi defector provided by the Iraqi National Congress—a Defense Intelligence Agency debriefer determines that the defector's information on Iraq's presumed arsenal of banned weapons seems “accurate, but much of it [apears] embellished.” Defense Intelligence Agency analysts also determine that the defected Iraqi has been “coached by the Iraqi National Congress.” Harith claimed that he was a major in an Iraqi intelligence unit charged with concealing illicit weapons and that Iraq has developed mobile biological weapons labs. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammad Harith, Iraqi National Congress
          

March 2002

       Iraqi defector Mohammad Harith (see February 11, 2002) appears on CBS's “60 Minutes” and claims that while working as an Iraqi intelligence operative he had purchased seven Renault refrigerated trucks for the purpose of converting them into biological weapons laboratories. His identity is not revealed during the program. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohammad Harith
          

March 15, 2002

       British Intelligence MI6 says in an intelligence assessment that information on Saddam's alleged arsenal of illicit weapons is “sporadic and patchy.” In its conclusion, the report states: “We believe Iraq retains some production equipment, and some small stocks of chemical warfare agent precursors, and may have hidden small quantities of agents and weapons. There is no intelligence on any biological agent production facilities.” [Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05]
People and organizations involved: UK Secret Intelligence Service
          

March 22, 2002

       Peter Ricketts, the British Foreign Office's political director, offers advice to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who is to provide Tony Blair with a note (see March 25, 2005) before he sets off for a planned meeting with Bush in Texas. In the memo, Ricketts recommends that Blair back the Bush policy on regime change, in a broad sense, because it would allow the British to exert some influence on the exact shape of the administration's policy. “In the process, he can bring home to Bush some of the realities which will be less evident from Washington,” he says. “He can help Bush make good decisions by telling him things his own machine probably isn't.” But he acknowledges that the British, in backing US plans against Iraq, may have a difficult time convincing Parliament and the British public to support the use of military force against Iraq because of scant evidence supporting Washington's allegations against Iraq. “The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September.” He adds that the “figures” being used in a dossier on Iraq that Downing Street is drafting needs more work in order for it to be “consistent with those of the US.” He explains: “[E]ven the best survey of Iraq's WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile, or chemical weapons/biological weapons fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.” He also says the US has little evidence to support its other allegation. “US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda is so far frankly unconvincing,” he says. [Guardian, 4/21/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05 Sources: Memo from Peter Ricketts to Jack Straw, 3/22/2002]
People and organizations involved: Peter Ricketts, Tony Blair, Jack Straw
          

April 21-22, 2002

       Jose Bustani is removed from his position as director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons during an unusual special session that had been called by the US. Bolton and others in the State Department's arms-control bureau have been pressuring Bustani to resign since February (see March 2002; February 28, 2002; January 2002). They are upset about the OPCW chief's efforts to involve the organization in the evolving dispute between the US and Iraq over the latter's alleged arsenal of illicit weapons ; Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001). Only 113 nations of the organization's 145 members are represented at the meeting. Of those, 15 are not eligible to vote because of outstanding membership fees. [New York Times, 7/26/2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Some of the delegates, according to the Guardian, may have been paid by the US to attend. And one of the member-states, Micronesia, gave permission to the US to vote on their behalf. [Guardian, 4/23/2002] Before the vote, Bustani denounces the Bush administration's allegations and tells the delegates that they must decide whether genuine multilateralism “will be replaced by unilateralism in a multilateral disguise.” [Sources: Statement by Jose Bustani, 4/21/2002] But the US delegation, intent on seeing that Bustani is removed, threatens to withhold US dues—22 percent of the organization's $60 million annual budget—if Bustani remains in office. A US refusal to pay its dues would likely force the organization to close. [BBC, 4/22/2002; New York Times, 7/26/2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Bustani told a reporter the week before, “The Europeans are so afraid that the US will abandon the convention that they are prepared to sacrifice my post to keep it on board.” [Guardian, 4/16/2002] Only forty-eight members—less than one-third of the total membership—vote in favor of removing Bustani. But the no-confidence vote is nonetheless successful because 43 of the delegates abstain. Only seven votes are cast in opposition. [US Department of State (Vote Tally), 2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Jose M. Bustani
          

May 2002

       Defense Intelligence Agency analysts issue a “fabricator notice,” warning the intelligence community that the agency has determined (see Between February 12, 2002 and March 31, 2002) that Iraqi defector Mohammad Harith is of questionable reliability and recommending that agencies disregard any intelligence that he has provided. It also notes that Harith had been “coached by [the] Iraqi National Congress” on what to tell US interrogators. [Knight Ridder, 7/16/04; Reuters, 2/18/04; New York Times 2/13/04; Newsweek, 2/16/04 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence official] The classified memo is “widely circulated within intelligence agencies, including the DIA and CIA,” Newsweek will later report, citing unnamed intelligence officials. [Newsweek, 2/16/04 Sources: Linton Wells, Unnamed US Intelligence Officials] Almost a year later, in a presentation to the UN, Secretary of State Colin Powell will make the claim that Iraq has mobile biological weapons labs (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003), and cite Harith as one of intelligence's four sources. Explaining how the reference to a dubious source made its way into Powell's speech, the State Department will say that the “fabricator notice” had not been properly cross-referenced in intelligence computers. [Newsweek, 2/16/04]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency, Iraqi National Congress
          

Summer 2002

       Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, says that “informants within the Iraqi intelligence community,” have revealed “that Hussein's VX stockpile is far larger than the 3.9 tons Iraq reported—something UNSCOM inspectors have long suspected,” reports The Washington Post. “Chalabi also says that the VX had been converted into a dry salt for long term storage and was positioned in various sites across Iraq for use in the event of a foreign attack. UNSCOM officials said the account seemed credible, given what was learned about Iraq's VX program in the final months of weapons inspections.” [Washington Post, 7/31/02]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

Mid-January 2002

       By this time, more than 300 different inspections have been conducted in Iraq by the UN weapons inspection teams, which report no instances of Iraqi attempts to impede their access to the alleged weapons sites. [Associated Press, 1/18/03; Baltimore Sun, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03] The London Independent quotes one diplomat, who says, “Realistically, it is not going to be easy to see in the next two months that we will be able to say that Iraq is not cooperating.” [Independent 1/8/03] Inspectors also say that there are no signs that Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction. An Associated Press report cites several specific cases of alleged weapons sites that the inspection teams—after repeated visits—have determined are not involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction. “UN arms monitors have inspected 13 sites identified by US and British intelligence agencies as major ‘facilities of concern,’ and reported no signs of revived weapons building.” [Associated Press, 1/18/03; Baltimore Sun, 1/20/03; New York Times, 1/20/03] And International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Weapons Inspector Mohamed ElBaradei tells reporters: “I think it's difficult for Iraq to hide a complete nuclear-weapons program. They might be hiding some computer studies or R. and D. on one single centrifuge. These are not enough to make weapons” (see January 11, 2003). [Time, 1/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei
          

Mid-January 2002

       After more than two months and more than 350 inspections, the UN teams have failed to find the arsenal of banned weapons the US and Britain claim Iraq has. Nor are there any signs of programs to build such weapons. The London Observer reports that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors are convinced Iraq does not have a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. “IAEA officials and intelligence sources admit it is extremely unlikely that Iraq has nuclear weapons squirreled away,” The Observer reports, explaining that “... the IAEA [had] revealed that analysis of samples taken by UN nuclear inspectors in Iraq ... showed no evidence of prohibited nuclear activity.” [Observer, 1/26/03; The Washington Post, 12/27/03; Los Angeles Times, 1/26/03]
          

July 30, 2002

       Khidir Hamza, “who played a leading role in Iraq's nuclear weapon program before defecting in 1994,” tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that according to German intelligence, Iraq has “more than 10 tons of uranium and one ton of slightly enriched uranium ... in its possession” which would be “enough to generate the needed bomb-grade uranium for three nuclear weapons by 2005.” He says that Iraq is “using corporations in India and other countries to import the needed equipment for its program and channel it through countries like Malaysia for shipment to Iraq.” He also claims that Iraq is “gearing up to extend the range of its missiles to easily reach Israel.” The testimony is widely reported in the media. [CNN, 8/1/02; Guardian, 8/1/02; Telegraph, 8/1/02] Hamza, however, is considered by many to be an unreliable source. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security where Hamza worked as an analyst from 1997 to 1999, says that after Hamza defected “he went off the edge” and “started saying irresponsible things.” [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02] And General Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law who was in charge of the dictator's former weapons program but who defected in 1995, told UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors at the time of his defection, as well as US and British intelligence, that Khidhir Hamza was not a reliable source (see August 22, 1995). [New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: UNSCOM Interview with Hussein Kamel, August 22, 1995] The IAEA will say in 2004 that before the US invasion of Iraq, it had warned journalists reporting on Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program that Hamza was not a credible source. “Hamza had no credibility at all. Journalists who called us and asked for an assessment of these people—we'd certainly tell them.” [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04 Sources: Unnamed IAEA staff member]
People and organizations involved: Hussein Kamel, Khidir Hamza, David Albright
          

August 2002

       US satellite photos reportedly show increased activity near the Taji factory in Iraq, which US intelligence suspects may be involved in the production of anthrax. The facility is located 10 miles outside of Baghdad. [World Tribune, 8/14/02] But on August 20, a week after news of the satellite photos are reported, the Iraqi government allows 15 journalists, mostly Iraqis representing foreign presses, to tour the alleged weapons site. Reporters who tour the facility find “piles of 110-pound sacks of sugar and rice and boxes of milk covered the floor. Writing on the sacks [indicates] ... they were imported under the oil-for-food program that allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil provided the proceeds go for food, medicine and other supplies,” [Associated Press, 8/20/02] including powdered milk imported from Yemen, Vietnam, Tunisia and Indonesia and sacks of sugar imported from Egypt and India. [Saleh, 8/20/02] Iraq's trade minister, Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, explains that the trucks captured by the satellite photos had been distributing foodstuffs from al-Taji to warehouses in the various provinces of Iraq. He states: “They [Americans] are checking every movement in Iraq, but a satellite cannot tell real information. This is rubbish information, actually rubbish information to convert baby milk and baby food and sugar to weapons of mass destruction.... We started to move food from this warehouse to supply stores in provinces early this month, and more specifically on August 4 as we started to distribute food rations every two months.... We have transported 2,500 tons of powdered milk in 187 trucks and not 60 trucks as the Americans said and we will continue (to do so).... If they enlarge the satellite photographs they can compare boxes of the baby milk moved from this site as they were not covered and boxes here.” [Saleh, 8/20/02] An enlargement of the pictures would have revealed the words, “Al-moudhish,” written on the packages—the brand name of the milk that had been imported from Oman. [Associated Press, 8/20/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Mehdi Saleh
          

August 15, 2002

       USA Today reports: “US intelligence cannot say conclusively that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, an information gap that is complicating White House efforts to build support for an attack on Saddam's Iraqi regime. The CIA has advised top administration officials to assume that Iraq has some weapons of mass destruction. But the agency has not given President Bush a ‘smoking gun,’ according to US intelligence and administration officials. The most recent unclassified CIA report on the subject goes no further than saying it is ‘likely’ that Iraq has used the four years since United Nations inspectors left the country to rebuild chemical and biological weapons programs.” [USA Today, 8/15/02 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence and administration officials]
          

September 2002

       The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) issues an 80-plus-page classified report titled, “Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study,” concluding that there is “no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons.” [Bloomberg News, 6/6/03; Reuters, 6/6/03; US News and World Report, 6/9/03 Sources: Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study] When this is reported in the press in June 2003, Michael Anton, a spokesman with the National Security Council, immediately denies that the report suggested the administration had misrepresented intelligence. “The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe. The entire report is consistent with [sic] the president was saying at the time,” he claims. [Fox News, 6/6/03] But two Pentagon officials confirm to Fox News that according to the report, the Defense Intelligence Agency indeed had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons. [Fox News, 6/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency  Additional Info 
          

September 9, 2002

       The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London concludes in a report that “Iraq does not possess facilities to produce fissile material in sufficient amounts for nuclear weapons” and that “it would require several years and extensive foreign assistance to build such fissile material production facilities.” [International Institute for Strategic Studies, 9/9/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; Guardian, 9/10/02; BBC, 9/9/02; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: International Institute for Strategic Studies
          

September 10, 2002

       Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet give a classified briefing to some members of Congress. After the briefing, several Democrats say they are unconvinced that Saddam Hussein poses an imminent threat to the US. Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi from California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, tells The Washington Post, “I did not hear anything today that was different about [Saddam Hussein's] capabilities,” save a few “embellishments.” Democratic Senator Richard J. Durbin from Illinois tells the newspaper: “It would be a severe mistake for us to vote on Iraq with as little information as we have. This would be a rash and hasty decision” adding that he has heard “no groundbreaking news” on Iraq's capabilities. Democrat Robert Menendez, a representative from New Jersey, says he also didn't hear any new evidence. “What was described as new is not new. It was not compelling enough,” he says. “Did I see a clear and present danger to the United States? No.” And an unnamed House Republican leader also seems to believe the case Tenet and Rice presented is weak. He says, “Daschle will want to delay this and he can make a credible case for delay.” [The Washington Post, 9/10/02; CNN, 9/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard Durbin, Robert Menendez, Nancy Pelosi, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice
          

September 12, 2002

       In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, George Bush says: “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons . . . Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon.” [The Age (Australia), 6/7/03]
          

September 12, 2002

       The White House publishes a 26-page government white paper titled, “A Decade of Deception and Defiance,” which seeks to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein represents a serious and imminent threat to the United States and its people. Section 5 of the report deals with “Saddam Hussein's support for international terrorism,” though it makes no attempt to tie the Iraqi leader to al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. It includes a brief list of six points implicating Saddam Hussein in terrorist activities, some dating as far back as the '70s. One of the points criticizes Iraq for its ties to the Mujahadeen-e Khalq Organization (MKO), an obscure militant Iranian dissident group whose main office is in Baghdad. The report says: “Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several US military personnel and US civilians.” The paper notes that the US State Department classified MKO as a “foreign terrorist organization” in 1997, “accusing the Baghdad-based group of a long series of bombings, guerilla cross-border raids and targeted assassinations of Iranian leaders.” [Newsweek, 9/26/02; White House, 9/12/02 Sources: Richard Durbin] The administration is quickly ridiculed for making the claim when, two weeks later, Newsweek reports that MKO's front organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has a small office in the National Press Building in Washington D.C. It is also reported that only two years beforehand this very group had been supported by then-Senator John Ashcroft and more than 200 other members of Congress. On several issues the senator and his colleagues had expressed solidarity with MKO at the behest of their Iranian-American constituencies. [Newsweek, 9/26/02] Another allegation included in the paper states that Iraqi defector Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a civil engineer, “had visited twenty secret facilities for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.” According to the White House dossier, Haideri “supported his claims with stacks of Iraqi government contracts, complete with technical specifications.” Ten months earlier, the CIA had debriefed Haideri in Bangkok and concluded from the results of a polygraph that Haideri account was a complete fabrication (see December 17, 2001). [White House, 9/12/02]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, US Congress, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri
          

September 13, 2002

       The New York Times publishes a second article reporting that the Bush administration believes a shipment of aluminum tubes destined for Iraq, intercepted in Jordan by US authorities in July (see July 2001), was intended for use in a gas centrifuge. Unlike The Times' previous report, this article mentions that there is a debate over the tubes between the Energy Department and CIA. It says that according to an unnamed official “[T]here have been debates among intelligence experts about Iraq's intentions in trying to buy such tubes.” The article says that the official claims “the dominant view in the administration was that the tubes were intended for use in gas centrifuges to enrich uranium.” Another official interviewed by the newspaper claims that Energy's alternative view “is a footnote, not a split.” One administration official is even quoted by the paper asserting “that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the CIA assessment.” [New York Times, 9/13/02; New York Times, 10/3/04] After the article is published, the Energy Department releases a directive forbidding employees from discussing the issue with reporters. [New York Times, 10/3/04]
People and organizations involved: US Department of Energy
          

September 24, 2002

       George Tenet briefs the Senate Intelligence Committee on the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq (see October 1, 2002). In his summary of the document, he includes the allegation that Iraq attempted to obtain uranium from Niger. He mentions that there are some doubts about the reliability of the evidence, but he does not say that the CIA had sent former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson as an envoy to Niger in February (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002) and that the former ambassador's conclusion had been that the claims were “bogus.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; ABC News, 6/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, George Tenet
          

September 24, 2002

       Within “two hours and ten minutes” of the British dossier's publication, Iraqi government officials invite British journalists on a tour of the sites named in the document as suspected weapon sites. The journalists are permitted to choose which facilities, of those mentioned in the dossier, they want to visit.
Al-Qa'qa complex - The first site they visit is the al-Qa'qa complex, located 30 miles south of Baghdad, which according to the British government's paper has “been repaired” and is now “operational.” “Of particular concern are elements of the phosgene production plant,” states the dossier, which makes two claims. The first is that the substance, phosgene, is being produced at the facility and can be used “as a chemical agent or as a precursor for nerve agent.” The second claim is that the facility's phosgene production plants had been “dismantled under UNSCOM supervision, but have since been rebuilt.” [British Government, 9/24/2002, pg. 20; Independent 9/25/02]
But both claims are wrong. Director-General Sinan Rasim Said concedes that the plants produce phosgene as a byproduct of centralit, a stabilizer for gunpowder (which is not illegal), but denies that it can be used “as a chemical agent or as a precursor for nerve agent,” as alleged in the British document. He explains to reporters that phosgene can “not be extracted from the manufacturing equipment, let alone be used for making nerve agents.” To support his claims, he says that during the Gulf War, the US had never attempted to destroy the phosgene plants “because they knew we can't make use of it.” Instead they had bombed the boiler room and the storage area, he says. Said also disputes the claim that UNSCOM had attempted to dismantle the facility's phosgene production plants. There was no reason to, he explains, because the plant was not in violation of any laws. He tells reporters that if the British had simply requested the relevant documents from the UN they would have seen that they were wrong. [Independent, 9/25/02; Independent, 9/25/02] Amir al Sa'adi, a senior Iraqi weapons expert, offers his own opinion as to why the facility was referred to in the dossier. He suggests that Blair singled out the plant “because it could produce propellant powder for weapons from pistols to artillery guns for Iraqi air defenses.” [Independent, 9/25/02] UNMOVIC weapons inspectors will visit the site in February 2003 and find nothing. [Guardian, 2/14/03b; Financial Times, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03; CNN, 2/3/03]
Amariyah Sera - The second site they visit is Amariyah Sera, a facility which the British say UNSCOM inspectors had concluded “was used to store biological agents, seed stocks and conduct biological warfare associated genetic research prior to the Gulf War.” [British Government 9/24/2002, pg. 20; Independent 9/25/02]
It is also claimed by Downing Street that the facility “has now expanded its storage capacity,” implying that the expansion is related to biological weapons. [Independent 9/25/02; British Government 9/24/2002, pg. 20] But the facility's director, Karim Obeid, disputes the dossier's claim that UNSCOM had earlier determined the plant was used for genetic research and storing biological agents. He tells the Independent of London: “They were coming here ever since the Gulf War until they left, and they have never accused us of any of those things in that time. All our work was done with their supervision.” He says the facility is being used “for testing typhoid fever.” Moreover, he adds that he is morally opposed to biological warfare “both as a scientist and a human being.” [Independent, 9/25/02] Obeid also explains that the storage capacity of the facility has been increased, as the dossier states, but that the additional rooms are not being used in a way that violates international law. A reporter from the Independent, who visits the additional rooms, reports that one of the added areas is “a large mostly empty room” which the director says is being used “to store solutions for blood tests, imported from the Melat pharmaceutical company in France,” while a second area is “stacked with empty bottles of various brands of vaccine.” [Independent, 9/25/02] Weapons inspectors will visit the site on December 15, 16, and 22 and find no evidence of biological weapons. [Guardian, 2/14/03b; Financial Times, 2/14/03; UNMOVIC, 12/15/02; UNMOVIC, 12/16/02; UNMOVIC, 12/22/02; Associated Press, 2/14/03]
People and organizations involved: Amir Hammudi al-Saadi, Sinan Rasim Said, Karim Obeid
          

September 29, 2002

       Jane's Foreign Report reveals that Israeli forces have been operating within Iraq. Citing Israeli sources, it reports that the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit was dispatched into Iraqi sovereign territory “to find and identify places used by, or likely to be used by, Iraqi Scud missile launchers.” The newsletter explains, “Our information is that neither Israel nor the United States have a clue about what, if anything, Saddam Hussein is hiding,” and that “It was this ignorance that persuaded the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to assign the Sayeret Matkal to a job that is sensitive and dangerous.” [Ha'aretz 9/29/02; Jerusalem Post, 9/29/02; USA Today, 11/3/02]
          

October 1, 2002

       The National Intelligence Council, a board of senior analysts who prepare reports on crucial national security issues, completes a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. The purpose of an NIE is to provide policy-makers with an intelligence assessment that includes all available information on a specific issue so that they can make sound policy decisions. The formal document is supposed to be the result of a collaborative effort of the entire intelligence community and is supposed to be untainted by political interests. The decision to produce the assessment on Iraq followed criticisms that the administration had already decided to invade Iraq without having received—or even called for—an assessment from its multi-billion dollar intelligence apparatus on the supposed threat posed by Iraq. Congress wanted the NIE completed prior to voting on a bill authorizing the President to use force against Iraq and was formally requested by Senator Bob Graham. NIEs such as this usually take months to prepare, however this document took a mere three weeks. The person in charge of preparing the document was weapons expert Robert Walpole. According to the Independent of London, Walpole has a track record of tailoring his work to support the preconceived conclusions of his superiors. “In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier,” the newspaper will report. “On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defense system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld ....” [Independent, 11/3/03; New York Times, 10/3/2004]
Summary of NIE Conclusions - After the document is completed, two different versions will be released. An abridged declassified version is posted on the CIA's website for the public, while the classified version is disseminated within the administration and to Congress (see (8:00pm) October 1, 2002). The two versions portray the threat posed by Saddam Hussein very differently. The classified version of the NIE on Iraq provides a far less alarmist view of the threat allegedly posed by Iraq than that which is presented in the public version of the document. According to US intelligence and congressional sources who read the classified document, the intelligence estimate contains “cautionary language about Iraq's connections with al-Qaeda and warnings about the reliability of conflicting reports by Iraqi defectors and captured al-Qaeda members about the ties.” And notably, the second paragraph of the “key judgment” section states that the estimate lacks “specific information” on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Though the document does say that Iraq probably has chemical and biological weapons, it also says that US intelligence analysts believe that Saddam Hussein would only launch an attack against the US if he felt a US invasion was inevitable. The intelligence estimate also concludes that Saddam would only provide terrorists with chemical or biological agents for use against the United States as a last resort in order to “exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.” A senior intelligence official will later tell the Washington Post in June 2003: “There has always been an internal argument within the intelligence community about the connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. The NIE had alternative views.” The NIE also concludes that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. The public version of the report—which is presented to Congress before it votes on a resolution conditionally authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq—contains language that is far less qualified and nuanced than the classified version. [Washington Post, 6/22/03; Agence France Presse, 11/30/03 Sources: Stuart Cohen, US intelligence and congressional sources, INR's alternative view in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]

Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium from Africa - The document makes a reference to the allegation that Iraq has sought to procure uranium from Africa. “A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of ‘pure uranium’ (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement. Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” But the alternative view—endorsed by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)—says that it is doubtful Iraq sought to procure uranium from Africa. “(T)he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious,” it reads. [Washington Post, 7/19/03; US Government, 10/02 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]

Iraqi attempts to obtain aluminum tubes - The document provides a very misleading assessment of the tubes case. For instance, it includes a chart which compares the dimensions of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq with those that would be needed for a “Zippe-type” centrifuge. The comparison makes the two tubes appear similar. However, the chart fails to note that the aluminum tubes are an exact match to those used in Iraq's 81-millimeter rocket. The estimate also claims that the tubes are not suitable for rockets. The assertion ignores the fact that similar tubes are used in rockets from several countries, including the United States. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
In addition to the assessment's misleading statements about the tubes, there are interesting differences between the classified and declassified versions of the NIE with regard to the tubes. The declassified, public version of the NIE states: “Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs. Based on tubes of the size Iraq is trying to acquire, a few tens of thousands of centrifuges would be capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a couple of weapons per year.” However the classified version of the document presents a more nuanced assessment. In the main text of the document, it says that the Energy Department “agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.” At the bottom of the page, in a lengthy footnote by the State Department's INR, the alternative view states that the agency agrees with the DOE's assessment that the tubes are not meant for use in a gas centrifuge. The footnote reads: “In INR's view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the US Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq's nuclear weapon program.” [Washington Post, 7/19/03; US Government, 10/02; USA Today, 7/31/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]
Reconstituted nuclear weapons programs - The intelligence estimate says that “most” of the US' six intelligence agencies believe there is “compelling evidence that Saddam [Hussein] is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program.” The classified version of the document includes the dissenting position of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) which states: “The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons programs, INR is unwilling to ... project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening.” It is later learned that nuclear scientists in the Department of Energy's in-house intelligence office were also opposed to the NIE's conclusion and had wanted to endorse the State's alternative view. However, the person representing the DOE, Thomas Ryder, silenced the views of those within his department and inexplicably voted to support the position that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program (see September 2002). The DOE's vote was seen as critical, since the department's assessment was supposed to represent the views of the government's nuclear experts. [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; US Government, 10/02; Washington Post, 7/19/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]

Chemical and Biological Weapons - The classified version of the estimate uses cautionary language to conclude that Iraq probably does have chemical and biological weapons. It states: “We judge Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives.” But the document also highlights the belief that it is unlikely that Iraq has any intention to use these against the US. “... Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [Chemical/Biological Weapons] against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington with a stronger case for making war.” Iraq would probably only use such weapons against the United States if it “feared an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge.” [Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]
The last two observations are conspicuously absent from the declassified, public version of the estimate, which reads only, “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives, including potentially against the US Homeland.” [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - The NIE claims that Iraq has unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which can be used to deploy biological and chemical weapons. “Baghdad's UAVs—especially if used for delivery of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents—could threaten Iraq's neighbors, US forces in the Persian Gulf, and the United States if brought close to, or into, the US Homeland.” [Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]
But this view is not held unanimously among the various intelligence agencies. Significantly, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center disagrees with this assessment. The Center, which controls most of the American military's UAV fleet, says in a dissenting opinion that there is little evidence that Iraq's drones are related to the country's suspected biological weapons program. Current intelligence suggests that the drones are not capable of carrying much more than a camera and a video recorder. The Air Force believes that Iraq's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are for reconnaissance, like its counterparts in the US. The dissenting opinion reads: “... The Director, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, US Air Force, does not agree that Iraq is developing UAVs primarily intended to be delivery platforms for chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents. The small size of Iraq's new UAV strongly suggests a primary role of reconnaissance, although CBW delivery is an inherent capability.” [Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 8/24/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: US Government officials and scientists] This important statement is not included in the public version of the document. [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq] Bob Boyd, director of the Air Force Intelligence Analysis Agency, will tell reporters in August 2003 that his department thought the allegation in the NIE “was a little odd,” noting that Air Force assessments “all along” had said that reconnaissance, not weapons delivery, was the purpose of Iraq's drones. “Everything we discovered strengthened our conviction that the UAVs were to be used for reconnaissance,” he will explain. “What we were thinking was: Why would you purposefully design a vehicle to be an inefficient delivery means? Wouldn't it make more sense that they were purposefully designing it to be a decent reconnaissance UAV?” [Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: Bob Boyd] The NIE's conclusion is apparently also based on accounts from defectors and exiles as well as information suggesting that Iraq is attempting to obtain “commercially available route-planning software,” containing topographic data of the United States. According to the NIE, this data “could facilitate targeting of US sites.” But Air Force analysts were not convinced by the argument, noting that this sort of information could easily be retrieved from the Internet and other highly accessible sources. “We saw nothing sinister about the inclusion of the US maps in route-planning software,” Boyd will tell reporters. [Washington Post, 9/26/03 Sources: Bob Boyd] Analysts at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency are said to back the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center's position. [Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: US Government officials and scientists]
Aftermath - After the completion of the National Intelligence Estimate, the Bush administration will continue to make allegations concerning Iraq's weapons capabilities and ties to militant Islamic groups, but will include none of the qualifications and nuances that are present in the classified version of the assessment. After excerpts from the classified version of the NIE are published in the press in July of 2003 (see July 11, 2003) and the public learns that the document's conclusions had actually been much less alarmist than the public version, administration officials will claim that neither Bush, Rice, nor other top officials were informed about the alternative views expressed by the DOE, INR, and the Air Force intelligence agency. They will also assert that the dissenting views did not significantly undermine the overall conclusion of the NIE that Iraq was continuing its banned weapons program despite UN resolutions. [New York Times, 7/19/03; Washington Post, 7/27/03; Washington Post, 7/19/03]
But this claim is later disputed in an article by The Washington Post, which reports: “One person who has worked with Rice describes as ‘inconceivable’ the claims that she was not more actively involved. Indeed, subsequent to the July 18 briefing, another senior administration official said Rice had been briefed immediately on the NIE—including the doubts about Iraq's nuclear program—and had ‘skimmed’ the document. The official said that within a couple of weeks, Rice ‘read it all.’ ” [Washington Post, 7/27/03 Sources: two unnamed administration officials] The official's account, will in fact be confirmed by Rice herself, who reportedly tells Gwen Ifill at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Dallas on August 7, 2003: “I did read everything that the CIA produced for the president on weapons of mass destruction. I read the National Intelligence Estimate cover to cover a couple of times. I read the reports; I was briefed on the reports. This is—after 20 years, as somebody who has read a lot of intelligence reports—this is one of the strongest cases about weapons of mass destruction that I had ever read..” [Gwenn Ifill, 8/7/2003 cited in Daily Howler, 8/11/2003] Additionally, senior CIA analyst Stuart Cohen, the acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council at this time, who helped write the document, will tell the Agence France Presse, “Any reader would have had to read only as far as the second paragraph of the Key Judgments to know that as we said, ‘we lacked specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD program.’ ” [Agence France Presse, 11/30/03 Sources: Michael Hayden] A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation will determine in July 2004 that “Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting.” [Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Congress, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Bob Graham, Stuart Cohen, Bob Boyd  Additional Info 
          

October 7, 2002

       In a televised speech, Bush presents the administration's case that Saddam Hussein's regime is a threat to the security of the nation. The speech is widely criticized for including false and exaggerated statements.
Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons - Bush claims that a shipment of 3,000 aluminum tubes to Iraq, which were intercepted in Jordan by US authorities in July of 2001 (see July 2001), had been destined for use in a uranium enrichment program. But by this time numerous experts and government scientists have already warned the administration against making this allegation. [White House, 10/7/02]
Three weeks before Bush's speech, The Washington Post ran a story on the aluminum tubes. The article summarized a study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), disputing the administration's claim that the tubes were to be used for gas centrifuges. The report was authored by the institute's president and founder, David Albright, a respected nuclear physicist, who had investigated Iraq's nuclear weapons program after the First Gulf War as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team and who has spoken before Congress on numerous occasions. In his study, he concluded that Iraq's attempts to import the tubes “are not evidence that Iraq is in possession of, or close to possessing, nuclear weapons” and “do not provide evidence that Iraq has an operating centrifuge plant or when such a plant could be operational.” [Washington Post, 9/19/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; Guardian, 10/9/02; Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] Soon after the speech, David Albright tells The Guardian newspaper that there is still no evidence to substantiate that interpretation. As one unnamed specialist at the US Department of Energy explains to the newspaper, “I would just say there is not much support for that [nuclear] theory around here.” [Guardian 10/9/02] The Washington Post article also reported that government experts on nuclear technology who disagreed with the White House view had told Mr. Albright that the administration expected them to remain silent. [Washington Post 9/19/02; Independent 9/22/02] Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on gas centrifuges reviewed the tube question in August 2001 (see 1950s) and concluded at that time that it was very unlikely that the tubes had been imported to be used for centrifuges in a uranium enrichment program. He later tells The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” He also says that other centrifuge experts whom he knew shared his assessment of the tubes. [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Houston G. Wood III] In addition to the several outside experts who criticized the tubes allegation, analysts within the US intelligence community also doubted the claim. Less than a week before Bush's speech, the Energy Department and the State Department's intelligence branch, the INR, had appended a statement to a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq disputing the theory (see October 1, 2002). [National Intelligence Estimate, 10/2002 Sources: David Albright]
Saddam Hussein ordered his nuclear program to continue in 1998 - Bush says that US intelligence has information that Saddam Hussein ordered his nuclear program to continue after inspectors left in 1998. “Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the (UN) International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities, including three uranium enrichment sites,” Bush charges. “That same year, information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue.” [White House, 10/7/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]
But Bush's “high-ranking” source turns out to be Khidir Hamza, who is considered by many to be an unreliable source. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security where Hamza worked as an analyst from 1997 to 1999, says that after Hamza defected “he went off the edge” and “started saying irresponsible things.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02] And General Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law who was in charge of the dictator's former weapons program but who defected in 1995, told UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors, as well as US and British intelligence, that Khidhir Hamza was “a professional liar.” “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions,” Kamel had explained. “He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: UNSCOM report, S/1998/332, April 16, 1998]
Iraq is developing drones that could deploy chemical and biological weapons - The President claims that Iraq is developing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which “could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.” He goes so far as to say, “We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.” [White House, 10/7/02; Guardian, 10/9/02]
But this claim comes shortly after US intelligence agencies completed a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, in which Air Force intelligence had disputed the drone allegation (see October 1, 2002). Bush's drone allegation is quickly derided by experts and other sources. The Guardian of London reports two days later that according to US military experts, “Iraq had been converting eastern European trainer jets, known as L-29s, into drones, but ... that with a maximum range of a few hundred miles they were no threat to targets in the US.” [Guardian, 10/9/02 Sources: Unnamed military experts] And the San Francisco Chronicle will cite experts who say that “slow-moving unmanned aerial vehicles would likely be shot down as soon as they crossed Iraq's borders” because “Iraqi airspace is closely monitored by US and British planes and radar systems” . The report will also note, “It's also unclear how the vehicles would reach the US mainland—the nearest point is Maine, almost 5, 500 miles away—without being intercepted.” [San Francisco Chronicle 10/12/02 Sources: Unnamed experts] Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, will say he believes the drone allegation is unrealistic. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he says, “As a guesstimate, Iraq's present holdings of delivery systems and chemical and biological weapons seem most likely to be so limited in technology and operational lethality that they do not constrain US freedom of action or do much to intimidate Iraq's neighbors.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02 Sources: Anthony Cordesman] These criticisms of Bush's claim are validated after the US invasion of Iraq. Two US government scientists involved in the post-invasion hunt for weapons of mass destruction will tell the Associated Press in August 2003 that they inspected the drones and concluded that they were never a threat to the US. “We just looked at the UAVs and said, ‘There's nothing here. There's no room to put anything in here,’ ” one of the scientists will say. “The US scientists, weapons experts who spoke on condition of anonymity, reached their conclusions after studying the small aircraft and interviewing Iraqi missile experts, system designers and Gen. Ibrahim Hussein Ismail, the Iraqi head of the military facility where the UAVs were designed,” the Associated Press will explain in its report. [Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: Unnamed US government scientists]
Saddam Hussein could give terrorists weapons of mass destruction - Bush asserts, “Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.” [White House, 10/7/02]
But not only have numerous experts and inside sources disputed this theory (see July 2002-March 19, 2003), US intelligence's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq—completed just one week before—concluded that this is an unlikely scenario (see October 1, 2002). “Baghdad, for now, appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW against the United States,” the document clearly stated. “Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/03]
Iraq rebuilding facilities associated with production of biological and chemical weapons - Bush claims that surveillance photos indicate that Iraq “is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.” [White House, 10/7/02]
On the following day, photos are published on the White House website showing that Iraq had repaired three sites damaged by US bombs—the Al Furat Manufacturing Facility, the Nassr Engineering Establishment Manufacturing Facility, and Fallujah II. [White House, 10/8/02] But no evidence is provided by the White House demonstrating that these sites have resumed activities related to the production of weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi authorities will give reporters a tour of the facilities on October 10 (see October 10, 2002).
Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases - Bush alleges that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda operatives “in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.” [White House, 10/7/02]
The claim is based on a September 2002 CIA document which had warned that its sources were of “varying reliability” and that the claim had not yet been substantiated (see September 2002). The report's main source, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda operative who offered the information to CIA interrogators while in custody, later recounts the claim (see February 14, 2004). A Defense Intelligence Agency report in February 2002 (see February 2002) had also expressed doubt in the claim, going so far as to suggest that al-Libi was “intentionally misleading [his] debriefers.” [CNN, 9/26/02; Newsweek, 7/5/2004; The New York Times, 7/31/2004; New York Times, 11/6/2005 Sources: Unnamed administration official] And earlier in the month, US intelligence services had concluded in their National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that this allegation could not be confirmed. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; Newsday, 10/10/02; Washington Post, 6/22/03; CNN, 9/26/02]
A very senior al-Qaeda leader received medical treatment in Baghdad - Bush claims: “Some al-Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al-Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.” The allegation refers to Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who is the founder of al-Tawhid, an organization whose aim is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. No evidence ever surfaces to suggest that the group works with al-Qaeda. The allegation is partly based on intercepted telephone calls in which Al Zarqawi was overheard calling friends or relatives (see Late 2001-May 2002). But Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that according to US intelligence officials, “The intercepts provide no evidence that the suspected terrorist was working with the Iraqi regime or that he was working on a terrorist operation while he was in Iraq.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 10/7/02; White House, 10/7/02 Sources: Umnamed US intelligence officials]

People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Houston G. Wood III, David Albright, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi  Additional Info 
          

October 10, 2002

       Iraqi Minister Abdul Tawab Mullah Hawaish, who is in charge of Iraq's weapons programs, invites reporters and members of the Bush administration to visit two of the alleged WMD sites, Furat and Nasser al-Azim, to which Bush had referred in his October 7 speech (see October 7, 2002). Hawaish says, “The American administration are invited to inspect these sites. As I am responsible for the Iraqi weapons programs, I confirm here that we have no weapons of mass destruction and we have no intention to produce them.... I am saying here and now that we do not have weapons of mass destruction and we do not have programs to develop them.” [Reuters, 10/10/02; BBC, 10/10/02] But the White House rejects the offer. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “This is not up to Iraq, this is up to the UN.” [BBC, 10/10/2002] Reporters, however, accept the offer and tour the Nasser State Establishment, a facility that Iraq claims produces goods for civilian use as well as components for conventional weapons. [Reuters, 10/10/2002]
People and organizations involved: Abdul Tawab Mullah Hawaish
          

December 2002

       Two months after the September 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency report (see September 2002)—which found there was no conclusive evidence Iraq has chemical weapons—another secret document titled, “Iraq's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapon and Missile Program: Progress, Prospects, and Potential Vulnerabilities,” is completed. It also says in very clear terms that there is no solid proof that Iraq has chemical weapons. One passage from the report says, “No reliable information indicates whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where the country has or will establish its chemical agent production facility.” [US News and World Report, 6/13/03 Sources: Iraq's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapon and Missile Program: Progress, Prospects, and Potential Vulnerabilities]
          

End of December 2002

       After examining more than 200 sites, UN weapons inspectors say that despite unfettered access to all Iraqi facilities, they have found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or any programs aimed at developing such weapons. Several of the suspected weapons sites have been visited multiple times. Inspectors say that they have exhausted the leads provided by US intelligence and complain that Washington resists requests to provide them with more information. The San Francisco Chronicle reports: “UN spokesmen in Baghdad admit they have largely exhausted their list of possible weapons sites and must make repeat visits to stay busy. They have asked the United States to provide intelligence to help identify new sites. Although the Bush administration recently said it would share some secrets with the United Nations, it appears to have turned over little so far.” [Guardian, 1/3/02; New Zealand Herald, 1/1/03; Independent, 1/1/03; BBC, 12/31/01; Los Angeles Times, 12/31/01; Agence France Presse, 12/30/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/30/02] And an unnamed weapons inspector tells the Los Angeles Times: “We haven't found an iota of concealed material yet. Even private facilities which are not part of their state-run military industrial complex open up for us—like magic. ... We can't look for something which we don't know about. If the United States wants us to find something, they should open their intelligence file and share it with us so that we know where to go for it. .... By being silent, we may create the false illusion that we did uncover something. ... But I must say that if we were to publish a report now, we would have zilch to put in it.” [Guardian, 1/3/02; Los Angeles Times, 12/31/01; BBC, 12/31/01; Independent, 1/1/03; New Zealand Herald, 1/1/03] The London Observer will report in early January, “Some of the inspectors are understood to be convinced that their mission has become a ‘set-up job’ and America will attack Iraq regardless of what they find.” [Observer, 1/5/02]
          

December 3, 2002

       Iraq reiterates its claim that it has no weapons of mass destruction in the country, foreshadowing the content of its formal declaration, which is due in five days. Responding to the statement, US Secretary of Defense says, “Any country on the face of the earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” And Bush says, “He [Saddam Hussein] says he won't have weapons of mass destruction; he's got them.” [BBC, 12/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

December 10, 2002

       The Guardian of London reports that according to unnamed sources in New York and London, “The US and Britain lack ‘killer’ intelligence that will prove conclusively that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” The article quotes one source as saying, “If we had intelligence that there is a piece of weaponry at this map reference, we would tell the inspectors and they would be there like a shot.” [Guardian, 12/10/02 Sources: Unnamed US and British officials]
          

December 19, 2002

       The State Department publishes a fact sheet titled “Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council,” which states that in its December 2002 declaration (see December 7, 2002) to the UN, Iraq “ignores [its] efforts to procure uranium from Niger.” [US Department of State, 12/19/03; Associated Press, 6/12/03; Associated Press, 7/14/03] But at this time, there is no evidence that Iraq had in fact sought to obtain uranium from Niger. Prior to the fact sheet's publication, the CIA had warned the State Department about this and recommended that the phrase be removed—advice the State Department chose to ignore. [Associated Press, 6/12/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
          

December 20, 2002

       UNMOVIC chief weapons inspector Hans Blix criticizes the US and British governments for failing to provide inspectors with the intelligence they need to locate Iraq's alleged arsenal of banned weapons. Blix states, “If the UK and the US are convinced and they say they have evidence, then one would expect they would be able to tell us where is this stuff.” When asked if he is receiving enough cooperation from Western intelligence agencies, he answers, “Not yet. We get some, but we don't get all we need.” In response, US and British intelligence claim they will provide UN inspectors with higher quality intelligence. One official tells the New York Times, “We are going to give them one piece of information at a time, given strategically at the right moment.” Another official explains that the reason for this is because, “Based on our historical experience with UNSCOM, they had a very difficult time keeping information from falling into Iraqi hands.” [New, York Times 12/21/2002; Independent, 12/21/02; Independent, 12/22/02 Sources: Unnamed administration officials]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix
          

January 9, 2003

       The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) submits a preliminary report to the UN Security Council on the results of the inspections so far. The report says: “To date, no new information of significance has emerged regarding Iraq's past nuclear program (pre-1991) or with regard to Iraq activities during the period between 1991 and 1998.... [N]o evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities has been detected, although not all of the laboratory results of sample analysis are yet available.” [Reuters, 1/9/03; New York Times, 1/10/03; Independent, 1/10/03; Guardian, 1/10/03 Sources: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) preliminary report to the UN Security Council] It also states that Washington's claim that the tubes were meant for a centrifuge is highly unlikely. In one section of the report, its authors write: “While the matter is still under investigation and further verification is foreseen, the IAEA's analysis to date indicates that the specifications of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq in 2001 and 2002 appear to be consistent with reverse engineering of rockets. While it would be possible to modify such tubes for the manufacture of centrifuges, they are not directly suitable for it.” [Independent, 1/10/03; Guardian, 1/10/03; Reuters, 1/9/03; New York Times, 1/10/03 Sources: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) preliminary report to the UN Security Council] The IAEA preliminary conclusion on the tubes stems from a visit by inspectors to a metal fabrication factory in Nasser where they had found 13,000 completed rockets, all produced from 7075-T6 aluminum tubes. Iraqi engineers working at the facility explained that they had been seeking more aluminum tubes at the time US authorities intercepted the July 2001 shipment (see July 2001) because their supply was low. The engineers provided additional information which supported the view that the tubes were not meant for use in a gas centrifuge. They told the inspectors that the rigid specifications for the tubes were intended to improve the rocket's accuracy without requiring any major changes to the design. Documents reviewed by the inspectors confirmed the Iraqi engineers' account. It was also explained that the tubes, which were stored outside, were anodized so they would not corrode. Inspectors confirmed this also. [New York Times, 10/3/04]
          

January 9, 2003

       UNMOVIC inspectors say they have yet to uncover evidence indicating that Iraq has resumed its production of weapons of mass destruction. After providing the UN Security Council with a summary of the inspectors' findings, Hans Blix tells reporters in New York, “We have now been there for some two months and been covering the country in ever wider sweeps and we haven't found any smoking guns.” [Guardian, 1/10/03] But Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, insists that the absence of evidence is of little concern, asserting, “The problem with guns that are hidden is you can't see their smoke. We know for a fact that there are weapons there.” And John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN, accuses Iraq of “legalistic” cooperation, claiming that it needs to act proactively. He also says, “There is still no evidence that Iraq has fundamentally changed its approach from one of deceit to a genuine attempt to be forthcoming.” [Guardian, 1/10/03] Colin Powell also seems undaunted by Blix's remarks. “The lack of a smoking gun does not mean that there's not one there,” he says, “If the international community sees that Saddam Hussein is not cooperating in a way that would not allow you to determine the truth of the matter, then he is in violation of the UN resolution [1441]...You don't really have to have a smoking gun.” [News24, 1/10/03] Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN, echoes views from Washington, asserting that the “passive cooperation of Iraq has been good in terms of access and other procedural issues,” and adds, “But proactive cooperation has not been forthcoming—the kind of cooperation needed to clear up the remaining questions in the inspectors' minds.” [Guardian, 1/10/03]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Hans Blix, John Negroponte, Colin Powell, Jeremy Greenstock
          

January 11, 2003

       Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tells reporters during a press conference: “I think it's difficult for Iraq to hide a complete nuclear-weapons program. They might be hiding some computer studies or R. and D. on one single centrifuge. These are not enough to make weapons. There were reports from different member states that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes for enrichment, that they were importing uranium from Africa. Our provisional conclusion is that these tubes were for rockets and not for centrifuges. They deny they have imported any uranium since 1991.” [Time, 1/12/02]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei
          

January 11, 2003

       Following press reports that the Bush administration has begun supplying inspectors with intelligence, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei tells reporters that the inspection teams need “more actionable information” and that the US is still refusing to provide “specific intelligence about where to go and where to inspect.” He adds that “the inspections process will intensify to allow the inspections to speedup” if the Bush administration cooperates with inspectors. He also suggests that he does not think Iraq has a nuclear weapons program. He says: “I think it's difficult for Iraq to hide a complete nuclear-weapons program. They might be hiding some computer studies or R. and D. on one single centrifuge. These are not enough to make weapons.” [The Washington Post, 1/12/03; Montreal Gazette, 1/11/03; Sun-Herald, 1/12/03; Time, 1/12/03] Richard A. Boucher, a spokesperson for the State Department, contests ElBaradei's contention that inspectors have been given little to go on, saying, “I can certainly say that they're getting the best we've got, and that we are sharing information with the inspectors that they can use, and based on their ability to use it.” [The Washington Post, 1/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, Richard A. Boucher  Additional Info 
          

January 24, 2003

       The National Security Council (NSC) staff, concerned about the validity of the Bush administration's allegations concerning Iraq, requests new intelligence to support allegations that Saddam Hussein possesses nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons or programs. Robert Walpole, the national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, receives the request. He will later explain to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSC was concerned the “the nuclear case was weak.” [Washington Post, 5/21/2005]
People and organizations involved: Elizabeth Wilmshurst
          

January 27, 2003

       UNMOVIC Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix and IAEA Chief Weapons Inspector Mohamed ElBaradei present their long-anticipated reports on the progress of weapons inspections to the UN Security Council. Blix's assessment is notably more critical than the IAEA report by Mohamed ElBaradei. Blix tells the UN Security Council that while the Iraqi government has passively cooperated with the weapons inspectors: “Unlike South Africa, which decided on its own to eliminate its nuclear weapons and welcomed inspection as a means of creating confidence in its disarmament, Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance—not even today—of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.” Additionally, Blix reports that it is still too early to determine whether or not Iraq has or is developing weapons of mass destruction, noting that Iraq has still not answered several questions concerning unaccounted-for weapons. [New York Times, 1/27/03b; New York Times, 1/28/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03; Deutsche Welle, 1/27/03; Times of London, 1/28/03; UNMOVIC, 1/27/03]
Hans Blix's report -

Iraq has refused to permit overflights by American U2 surveillance planes. Iraq said that it would allow the overflights only if the UN promised to demand an end to the almost daily bombings by US and British war planes in the so-called “no-fly” zones. Iraq worries that if fighter jets and U2 planes are flying over Iraq at the same time, Iraq might inadvertently shoot at the surveillance planes, thinking they are fighter jets. [Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; Times of London, 1/28/03]

Iraq has not provided an adequate declaration of its prior production of nerve agent VX. [Times of London, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; Washington Post, 1/28/03]

Inspectors have found a “laboratory quantity” of thiodiglycol, a precursor of mustard gas. [New York Times, 1/27/03b]

1,000 tons of chemical agents from the Iraq-Iran War remain unaccounted for. [New York Times, 1/27/03b]

6,500 missing chemical rockets remain unaccounted for. [Times of London, 1/28/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b]

Iraq has not provided evidence to substantiate its claim that it destroyed 8,500 liters of anthrax [Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; Times of London, 1/28/03]

650kg of bacterial growth media remain unaccounted for. [Times of London, 1/28/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b]

Iraq has been developing Al Samoud 2 and Al Fatah missiles with a range beyond the 150km limit. [Times of London, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; Washington Post, 1/28/03]

380 rocket engines were smuggled into Iraq the previous month with chemicals used for missile propellants and control systems. [Los Angeles Times, 12/31/01; Times of London, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; Washington Post, 1/28/03]

Iraq had provided the names of only 400 of the estimated 3,500 Iraqi scientists. [Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times 1/27/03b; Times of London, 1/28/03]
Iraqi scientists are refusing private interviews with UN inspectors. [Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; Times of London, 1/28/03]
ElBaradei's report to the UN -

The International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team has failed to uncover any evidence implicating Saddam's regime in the development of nuclear weapons. He tells the Council: “We have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapon program since the elimination of the program in the 1990's. ... No prohibited nuclear activities have been identified during these inspections.” [New York Times, 1/28/03; IAEI, 1/27/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03]

The International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team is close to completing weapons inspections in Iraq. He says: “We should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program. These few months would be a valuable investment in peace because they could help us avoid war.” He adds: “[T]he presence of international inspectors in Iraq today continues to serve as an effective deterrent to and insurance against the resumption” of secret weapons programs. [Times of London, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b; IAEI, 1/27/03]

The aluminum tubes that Iraq attempted to import were not related to uranium enrichment. ElBaradei states: “IAEA inspectors have inspected the relevant rocket production and storage sites, taken tube samples, interviewed relevant Iraqi personnel, and reviewed procurement contracts and related documents. From our analysis to date it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges....” [Times of London, 1/28/03; IAEI, 1/27/03; Washington Post, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b]

The IAEA is investigating concerns that Iraq has attempted to obtain magnets that could be used in a gas centrifuge program. “Iraq presented detailed information on a project to construct a facility to produce magnets for the Iraqi missile program, as well as for industrial applications, and that Iraq had prepared a solicitation of offers, but that the project had been delayed due to ‘financial credit arrangements’ . Preliminary investigations indicate that the specifications contained in the offer solicitation are consistent with those required for the declared intended uses. However, the IAEA will continue to investigate the matter ....” [IAEI, 1/27/03]

Response - Responses to the two presentations are predictable. The US and Britain see no hope for Iraqi cooperation and peaceful disarmament, whereas other nations feel Blix and ElBaradei's reports demonstrate that the inspections are working and that the use of military force is not necessary. [Reuters, 1/27/03; Times of London, 1/28/03; New York Times, 1/27/03b]

People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, Hans Blix  Additional Info 
          

January 27, 2003

       The CIA's Berlin station chief warns CIA headquarters that information on the alleged mobile biological units supplied by Iraqi defector “Curveball” should not be used in Bush's state of the union speech. The station chief explains that the German intelligence service does not consider Curveball a reliable source and that it has been unable to confirm the defector's statements. [Washington Post, 5/21/2005]
          

February 3, 2003

       Colin Powell says that his upcoming presentation to the UN will include “no smoking gun.” Rather it will be “a straightforward and compelling demonstration that Saddam is concealing evidence of weapons of mass destruction, while preserving the weapons,” he says. [Daily Telegraph, 2/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the Bush administration's case against Saddam to the UN Security Council, in advance of an expected vote on a second resolution that the US and Britain hope will provide the justification to use military force against Iraq. [The White House, 2/6/03] At the insistence of Powell, CIA Director George Tenet is seated directly behind him to the right. “It was theater, a device to signal to the world that Powell was relying on the CIA to make his case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Vanity Fair magazine will later explain. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232; Bamford, 2004, pp 371-2] In his speech before the Council, Powell makes the case that Iraq is in further material breach of past UN resolutions, specifically the most recent one, UN Resolution 1441. Sources cited in Powell's presentation include defectors, informants, communication intercepts, procurement records, photographs, and detainees. [The White House, 2/6/03] Most of the allegations made by Powell are later demonstrated to be false. “The defectors and other sources went unidentified,” the Associated Press will later report. “The audiotapes were uncorroborated, as were the photo interpretations. No other supporting documents were presented. Little was independently verifiable.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq's December 7 declaration was inaccurate - Powell contends that Iraq's December 7 declaration was not complete. According to UN Resolution 1441 the document was supposed to be a “currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects” of its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. But Saddam has not done this, says Powell, who explains that Iraq has yet to provide sufficient evidence that it destroyed its previously declared stock of 8,500 liters of anthrax, as it claimed in the declaration. Furthermore, notes the secretary of state, UNSCOM inspectors had previously estimated that Iraq possessed the raw materials to produce as much as 25,000 liters of the virus. [Washington Post, 2/6/03d; The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03]

Iraq has ties to al Qaeda - Powell repeats earlier claims that Saddam Hussein's government has ties to al-Qaeda. Powell focuses on the cases of the militant Islamic group Ansar-al-Islam and Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, who had received medical treatment in Baghdad during the summer of 2002 (see Late 2001-May 2002). [The White House, 2/6/03]
However, just days before Powell's speech, US and British intelligence officials—speaking on condition of anonymity—told the press that the administration's allegations of Iraqi-al-Qaeda ties were based on information provided by Kurdish groups, who, as enemies of Ansar-al-Islam, should not be considered reliable. Furthermore, these sources unequivocally stated that intelligence analysts on both sides of the Atlantic remained unconvinced of the purported links between Iraq and al-Qaeda (see February 3-4, 2003). [Daily Telegraph, 2/4/03; Independent, 2/3/03] Powell also claims that Iraq provided “chemical or biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda associates beginning in December 2000.” The claim is based on a September 2002 CIA document which had warned that its sources were of “varying reliability” and that the claim was not substantiated (see September 2002). The report's main source, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda operative who offered the information to CIA interrogators while in custody, later recounts the claim (see February 14, 2004). [CNN, 9/26/02; Newsweek, 7/5/04; The New York Times, 7/31/04 Sources: Unnamed administration official] Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, will later say that neither he nor Powell ever received “any dissent with respect to those lines � indeed the entire section that now we know came from [al-Libi].” [Newsweek, 11/10/2005] Senior US officials will admit to the New York Times and Washington Post after the presentation that the administration was not claiming that Saddam Hussein is “exercising operational control” of al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; New York Times, 2/6/03b Sources: Unnamed senior US officials, Unnamed senior US State Department officials]
Iraq has missiles capable of flying up to 1,200 kilometers - Describing a photo of the al-Rafah weapons site, Powell says: “As part of this effort, another little piece of evidence, Iraq has built an engine test stand that is larger than anything it has ever had. Notice the dramatic difference in size between the test stand on the left, the old one, and the new one on the right. Note the large exhaust vent. This is where the flame from the engine comes out. The exhaust vent on the right test stand is five times longer than the one on the left. The one of the left is used for short-range missiles. The one on the right is clearly intended for long-range missiles that can fly 1,200 kilometers. This photograph was taken in April of 2002. Since then, the test stand has been finished and a roof has been put over it so it will be harder for satellites to see what's going on underneath the test stand.” [New York Times, 2/5/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
But according to the Associated Press, “... UN missile experts have reported inspecting al-Rafah at least five times since inspections resumed Nov. 27, have studied the specifications of the new test stand, regularly monitor tests at the installation, and thus far have reported no concerns.” [Associated Press, 2/7/03] Similarly, Reuters quotes Ali Jassem, an Iraqi official, who explains that the large stand referred to in Powell's speech is not yet in operation and that its larger size is due to the fact that it will be testing engines horizontally. [Reuters, 2/7/03; Guardian, 2/15/03] Several days later, Blix will report to the UN that “so far, the test stand has not been associated with a proscribed activity.” [Guardian, 2/15/03b]
Iraqis attempted to hide evidence from inspectors - Powell shows the UN Security Council satellite shots depicting what he claims are chemical weapons bunkers and convoys of Iraqi cargo trucks preparing to transport ballistic missile components from a weapons site just two days before the arrival of inspectors. “We saw this kind of housecleaning at close to 30 sites,” Powell explains. “We must ask ourselves: Why would Iraq suddenly move equipment of this nature before inspections if they were anxious to demonstrate what they had or did not have?” [Washington Post, 2/6/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
But the photos are interpreted differently by others. An unnamed UN official and German UN Inspector Peter Franck say the trucks in the photos are actually fire engines. [Mercury News, 3/18/03; Agence France Presse, 6/6/03] Another series of photos—taken during the spring and summer of 2002—show that Iraqis have removed a layer of topsoil from the al-Musayyib chemical complex. This piece of evidence, combined with information provided by an unnamed source, leads Powell to draw the following conclusion: “The Iraqis literally removed the crust of the earth from large portions of this site in order to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years of chemical weapons activity.” [The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03h] Showing another series of pictures—one taken on November 10 (before inspections) and one taken on December 22—Powell says that a guard station and decontamination truck were removed prior to the arrival of inspectors. Powell does not explain how he knows that the truck in the photograph was a decontamination truck. [Washington Post, 2/6/03h; The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03]
Communication intercepts demonstrate Iraqi attempts to conceal information from inspectors - Powell plays recordings of three conversations intercepted by US Intelligence—one on November 26, another on January 30, and a third, a “few weeks” before. The conversations suggest that the Iraqis were attempting to hide evidence from inspectors. [New York Times, 2/5/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/03; Times, 2/6/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
Senior administration officials concede to The Washington Post that it was not known “what military items were discussed in the intercepts.” [Washington Post, 2/13/03] Some critics argue that the intercepts were presented out of context and open to interpretation. [Sydney Morning Herald, 2/9/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/03] Others note that the conversations were translated from Arabic by US translators and were not analyzed or verified by an independent specialist. [Newsday, 2/6/03]
Biological weapons factories - Colin Powell says that US intelligence has “firsthand descriptions” that Iraq has 18 mobile biological weapons factories mounted on trucks and railroad cars. Information about the mobile weapons labs are based on the testimonies of four sources—a defected Iraqi chemical engineer who claims to have supervised one of these facilities, an Iraqi civil engineer (see December 20, 2001), a source in “a position to know,” and a defected Iraqi major (see February 11, 2002). Powell says that the mobile units are capable of producing enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill several thousand people. He shows computer-generated diagrams and pictures based on the sources' descriptions of the facilities. Colin Powell says that according to the chemical engineer, during the late 1990s, Iraq's biological weapons scientists would often begin the production of pathogens on Thursday nights and complete the process on Fridays in order to evade UNSCOM inspectors whom Iraq believed would not conduct inspections on the Muslim holy day. [Washington Post 2/5/03d; Reuters, 2/8/02; The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03]
Responding to the allegation, Iraqi officials will concede that they do in fact have mobile labs, but insist that they are not used for the development of weapons. According to the Iraqis, the mobile labs are used for food analysis for disease outbreaks, mobile field hospitals, a military field bakery, food and medicine refrigeration trucks, a mobile military morgue and mobile ice making trucks. [Guardian, 2/5/03; ABC News, 5/21/03] Iraq's explanation is consistent with earlier assessments of the UN weapons inspectors. Before Powell's presentation, Hans Blix had dismissed suggestions that the Iraqis were using mobile biological weapons labs, reporting that inspections of two alleged mobile labs had turned up nothing. “Two food-testing trucks have been inspected and nothing has been found,” Blix said. And Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said, “The outline and characteristics of these trucks that we inspected were all consistent with the declared purposes.” [The Guardian, 2/5/03; ABC News, 5/21/03] Powell's case is further damaged when it is later learned that one of the sources Powell cited, the Iraqi major, had been earlier judged unreliable by intelligence agents at the Defense Intelligence Agency (see February 11, 2002). In May 2002, the analysts had issued a “fabricator notice” on the informant, noting that he had been “coached by Iraqi National Congress” (see May 2002). But the main source for the claim had been an Iraqi defector known as “Curveball,” who turned out to be the brother of a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi. The source claimed to be a chemical engineer who had helped design and build the mobile labs. His information was passed to Washington through Germany's intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which had been introduced to the source by the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In passing along the information, the BND noted that there were “various problems with the source.” And only one member of the US intelligence community had actually met with the person—an unnamed Pentagon analyst who determined the man was an alcoholic and of dubious reliability. Yet both the DIA and the CIA validated the information. [Newsweek, 4/19/04; Newsweek, 7/19/04; Knight Ridder, 3/28/04; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, 08/22/03; Knight Ridder, 4/4/04 Sources: Unnamed Pentagon analyst, Unnamed current and former US intelligence officials, Unnamed senior US officials, Unnamed senior German security official] In addition to the inspectors' assessments and the dubious nature of the sources Powell cited, there are numerous other problems with the mobile factories claim. Raymond Zilinskas, a microbiologist and former UN weapons inspector, argues that significant amounts of pathogens such as anthrax, could not be produced in the short span of time suggested in Powell's speech. “You normally would require 36 to 48 hours just to do the fermentation .... The short processing time seems suspicious to me.” He also says: “The only reason you would have mobile labs is to avoid inspectors, because everything about them is difficult. We know it is possible to build them—the United States developed mobile production plants, including one designed for an airplane—but it's a big hassle. That's why this strikes me as a bit far-fetched.” [Washington Post, 2/5/03d] After the Powell's speech, Blix will say in his March 7 report to the UN that his inspectors found no evidence of mobile weapons labs (see March 7, 2003). [Blix, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Agence France Presse, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
Iraq is developing unmanned drones capable of deliverying weapons of mass destruction - Powell asserts that Iraq has flight-tested an unmanned drone capable of flying up to 310 miles and is working on a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of 745 miles. He plays a video of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet dispersing “simulated anthrax.” [New York Times, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 2/5/03f; The White House, 2/6/03]
But the Associated Press will later report that the video was made prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Apparently, three of the four spray tanks shown in the film had been destroyed during the 1991 military intervention. [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Imported Aluminum tubes were meant for centrifuge - Powell argues that the aluminum tubes which Iraq had attempted to import in July 2001 (see July 2001) were meant to be used in a nuclear weapons program and not for artillery rockets as experts from the US Energy Department, the INR, and the IAEA have been arguing (see February 3, 2003) (see January 11, 2003) (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see January 27, 2003). To support the administration's case, he cites unusually precise specifications and high tolerances for heat and stress. “It strikes me as quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds US requirements for comparable rockets,” he says. “Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so.” Powell also suggests that because the tubes were “anodized,” it was unlikely that they had been designed for conventional use. [The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 3/8/03]
Powell does not mention that numerous US nuclear scientists have dismissed this claim (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see September 23, 2002) (see December 2002). [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] Powell also fails to say that Iraq has rockets identical to the Italian Medusa 81 mm rockets, which are of the same dimensions and made of the same alloy as the 3,000 tubes that were intercepted in July 2001 (see After January 22, 2003). [Washington Post, 8/10/03] This had been reported just two weeks earlier by the Washington Post. [Washington Post, 1/24/03] Moreover, just two days before, Powell was explicitly warned by the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research not to cite the aluminum tubes as evidence that Iraq is pursuing nuclear weapons (see February 3, 2003). [Financial Times, 7/29/03]
Iraq attempted to acquire magnets for use in a gas centrifuge program - Powell says: “We ... have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines. Both items can be used in a gas centrifuge program to enrich uranium. In 1999 and 2000, Iraqi officials negotiated with firms in Romania, India, Russia and Slovenia for the purchase of a magnet production plant. Iraq wanted the plant to produce magnets weighing 20 to 30 grams. That's the same weight as the magnets used in Iraq's gas centrifuge program before the Gulf War.” [The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03; New York Times, 2/6/03b]
Investigation by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] will demonstrate that the magnets have a dual use. IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said a little more than a week before, on January 27, in his report to the Security Council: “Iraq presented detailed information on a project to construct a facility to produce magnets for the Iraqi missile program, as well as for industrial applications, and that Iraq had prepared a solicitation of offers, but that the project had been delayed due to ‘financial credit arrangements.’ Preliminary investigations indicate that the specifications contained in the offer solicitation are consistent with those required for the declared intended uses. However, the IAEA will continue to investigate the matter ....” (see January 27, 2003) [Sources: Letter dated January, 27 2003 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council] On March 7, ElBaradei will provide an additional update: “The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing.” (see March 7, 2003) [CNN, 3/7/03]
Iraq attempted to purchase machines to balance centrifuge rotors - Powell states: “Intercepted communications from mid-2000 through last summer show that Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors. One of these companies also had been involved in a failed effort in 2001 to smuggle aluminum tubes into Iraq.” [New York Times, 2/6/03b; New York Times, 2/5/03; The White House, 2/6/03]

Powell cites the documents removed from the home of Iraqi scientist Faleh Hassan - Powell cites the documents that had been found on January 16, 2003 by inspectors with the help of US intelligence at the Baghdad home of Faleh Hassan, a nuclear scientist. Powell asserts that the papers are a “dramatic confirmation” that Saddam Hussein is concealing evidence and not cooperating with the inspections. The 3,000 documents contained information relating to the laser enrichment of uranium (see January 16, 2003). [The White House, 2/6/03; Hassan, 1/19/03; Daily Telegraph, 1/18/03; Associated Press, 1/18/03]
A little more than a week later, in the inspectors' February 14 update to the UN Security Council (see February 14, 2003), ElBaradei will say, “While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq's laser enrichment development efforts, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents alters the conclusions previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq's laser enrichment program.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03; BBC, 2/17/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b]
Iraq is hiding missiles in the desert - Powell says that according to unidentified sources, the Iraqis have hidden rocket launchers and warheads containing biological weapons in the western desert. He further contends that these caches of weapons are hidden in palm groves and moved to different locations on a weekly basis. [The White House, 2/6/03]
It will later be suggested that this claim was “lifted whole from an Iraqi general's written account of hiding missiles in the 1991 war.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq a few dozen scud missiles - Powell also says that according to unnamed “intelligence sources,” Iraq has a few dozen Scud-type missiles. [Associated Press, 8/9/03]

Iraq has weapons of mass destruction - Secretary of State Colin Powell states unequivocally: “We ... have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities. There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.” Elsewhere in his speech he says: “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.” [US Department of State, 2/5/03; CNN, 2/5/03]

Reaction - The speech does little to change minds on the Security Council. France, Russia, and China remain opposed to the idea of a new resolution that would pave the way for the US to invade Iraq. These countries say that Powell's speech demonstrates that inspections are working and must be allowed to continue. “Immediately after Powell spoke, the foreign ministers of France, Russia and China—all of which hold veto power—rejected the need for imminent military action and instead said the solution was more inspections,” reports The Washington Post. But governments who have been supportive of the United States' aggressive stance remain firmly behind Washington. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03]
The press' response to Powell's evidence is also mixed. The Times of London, a relatively conservative daily newspaper, describes Powell's presentation as a “few smudgy satellite photographs, a teaspoon of talcum powder, some Lego-style drawings of sinister trucks and trains, a picture of an American U2 spy plane, several mugshots of Arabic men and a script that required a suspension of mistrust by the world's doves.” [Times, 2/6/03] The Washington Post opinion pages, however, are filled with praises for the speech. [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] The editorial proclaims that after the presentation, it is “hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” [Washington Post, 2/6/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, Raymond Zilinskas, Faleh Hassan, Hans Blix, Iraqi National Congress, Colin Powell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein  Additional Info 
          

February 14, 2003

       UNMOVIC Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei present an update to the UN Security Council on the progress of weapons inspections in Iraq. The content of their presentation includes no evidence to substantiate US and British claims that Iraq poses a serious threat to the US or Europe. After the report is presented, the majority of the UN Security Council members feel that the use of military force will not be needed to effectively disarm Iraq. [United Nations, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]
UNMOVIC report by Hans Blix -

After conducting some 400 inspections at over 300 Iraqi sites since December 2002, the inspection teams still have not found any evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or that Iraq has programs to develop such weapons. [Associated Press, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03; AP, 2/14/03; Interpress News Service, 2/15/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b]

The inspectors are unaware of any reliable evidence that the Iraqis have had advanced knowledge of the timing and locations of weapons inspections. “In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance that the inspectors were coming,” Blix says. [Associated Press, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b; Financial Times, 2/14/03; Reuters, 2/14/03b; Guardian, 2/15/03b]

The Iraqi government agreed to reduce the number of “minders” present in interviews with Iraqi scientists. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

The UNMOVIC weapons inspection teams have begun destroying Iraq's declared arsenal of mustard gas. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

South Africa has made an agreement with Iraq to assist it in its disarmament efforts. [Guardian, 2/14/03b; Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Several proscribed weapons and other items remain unaccounted for, including more than 1,000 tons of chemical agents. Blix explains that if they do not exist, Iraq needs to provide him with credible evidence that they have been destroyed. “Another matter and one of great significance is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.” [Financial Times, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/14/03b]

Based on the data contained in Iraq's declaration of arms, experts have concluded that two varieties of Iraq's Al Samoud II missile systems are capable of exceeding the 150km range limit that was imposed on Iraq in 1991 after the First Gulf War (see February 12, 2003). But contrary to what Powell recently stated in his February 5 presentation to the UN, test stands located at the Al Rafah facility have not been associated with the testing of missiles with the ranges Powell suggested (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). [Financial Times, 2/14/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b; Associated Press, 2/14/03]

More interviews with Iraqi scientists, especially ones involved in its former biological weapons programs, are needed. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Recent private interviews with Iraqi scientists have been helpful to weapons inspectors. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

The amount of intelligence being supplied by foreign agencies have recently increased and the new information is helping inspectors. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Blix challenges the conclusions made by Powell in his February 5 presentation (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) to the UN with regard to US satellite pictures showing the movement of trucks and supplies at suspected weapons sites prior to inspections. He says, “The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of an imminent inspection.” [Reuters, 2/14/03b; Guardian, 2/15/03b; Guardian, 2/14/03b; Associated Press, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Iraq produced a list of 83 people who it says participated in the destruction of large quantities of anthrax and VX precursors in 1991. [Financial Times, 2/14/03]

Inspections are increasing inspectors' knowledge of Iraqi arms. [Guardian, 2/14/03b]

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report by Mohamed ElBaradei -

ElBaradei's team has found no evidence of an illegal nuclear weapons program. “We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear related activities in Iraq.” [Financial Times, 2/14/03; IAEI, 2/14/03]

Iraqi officials have provided IAEA inspectors with immediate access to all sites it has sought to examine. [IAEI, 2/14/03; Financial Times, 2/14/03]

The IAEA is still investigating why Iraq attempted to import aluminum tubes during the summer of 2002. The agency is awaiting an explanation from Iraq as to why the tubes—alleged by Iraq to have been destined for a conventional weapons artillery program—were fabricated according to such high quality specifications. [Financial Times, 2/14/03; IAEI, 2/14/03]

Referring to the documents that had been discovered in the home of Faleh Hassan (see January 16, 2003), Mohamed ElBaradei states: “While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq's laser enrichment development efforts, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents alters the conclusions previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq's laser enrichment program” . [BBC, 2/17/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b; IAEI, 2/14/03]

Reaction - After the two reports, most UN Security Council members say they believe inspections are working and that the use of military force is unnecessary. Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, says: “There is an alternative to war: disarming Iraq through inspections. [War] would be so fraught with risk for the people, the region and international stability that it should be envisaged only as a last resort. ... We must give priority to disarmament by peaceful means.” His comments are followed by a huge applause. “French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin's impassioned speech seeking more time for inspections elicited rare applause from diplomats in the chamber,” reports the Associated Press. By contrast, the more hawkish remarks of US Secretary of State Colin Powell—who was said to have appeared “annoyed” during parts of Blix's report— “did not receive any applause.” Powell, in his response to the report, had stated: “We cannot wait for one of these terrible weapons to turn up in our cities.... More inspections—I am sorry—are not the answer.... The threat of force must remain.” After the reports, Germany, Syria, Chile, Mexico, Russia, France and Pakistan, favor continuing the inspections while Spain and Bulgaria back the US and British position. [Interpress News Service, 2/15/03; US Department of State, 2/14/03; Associated Press, 2/14/03; Fox News, 2/15/03]

People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, Mohamed ElBaradei, Colin Powell, Dominique de Villepin  Additional Info 
          

February 20, 2003

       British Foreign Minister Robin Cook is personally given an intelligence briefing by John Scarlett, head of the British joint intelligence committee. Cook later says in his diary that Scarlett's summary was “shorn of the political slant with which No 10 encumbers any intelligence assessment.” After the meeting with Scarlett, Cook concludes that “Saddam probably does not have weapons of mass destruction in the sense of weapons that could be used against large-scale civilian targets.” [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook, John Scarlett
          

February 28, 2003

       Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix's 12th quarterly report is circulated among UN Security Council members. The report will be presented orally to the Council on March 7 (see March 7, 2003). The report does not provide any evidence to support the US and British claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or that is has any programs to develop such weapons. Blix does however say the Iraqis could do more to assist his team's work. [Associated Press, 2/28/03; Telegraph, 2/28/03; Guardian, 3/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix
          

March 1, 2003

       Iraq begins destroying equipment associated with its Al Samoud Weapons program which the UN had determined was in violation of UN resolutions since the range of the missiles exceeds the 150km limit imposed in 1991 after the Gulf War (see February 12, 2003). [BBC, 3/12/03; CNN, 3/9/03]
          

March 5, 2003

       Robin Cook meets with Tony Blair and has the “most revealing” discussion about Saddam's alleged weapons arsenal. During the exchange Blair essentially acknowledges that Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction that could be used against his enemies like the US or Britain. [Times, 10/5/03] Cook says to Blair: “It's clear from the private briefing I have had that Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction in a sense of weapons that could strike at strategic cities. But he probably does have several thousand battlefield chemical munitions. Do you never worry that he might use them against British troops?” Blair responds, “Yes, but all the effort he has had to put into concealment makes it difficult for him to assemble them quickly for use.” [Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Robin Cook, John Scarlett
          

March 7, 2003

       UNMOVIC chief arms inspector Hans Blix provides a quarterly report to the UN Security Council on the progress of inspections in Iraq, as required by UN Security Resolution 1284 (1999). It is the twelfth such report since UNMOVIC's inception. Blix's report to the Council does not contain any evidence to support US and British claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or the programs to develop such weapons. IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei also reports to the Council and says there are no signs that Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03]
UNMOVIC report by Hans Blix -

There is no evidence that Iraq has mobile biological weapons factories, as was recently alleged by Colin Powell in his February 5 presentation (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) to the UN. “Several inspections have taken place ... in relation to mobile production facilities,” Blix says. “No evidence of proscribed activities has so far been found.” He further explained that his inspectors had examined numerous mobile facilities and large containers with seed processing equipment. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Agence France Presse, 3/7/03; Blix, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03]

The Iraqi government has increased its cooperation with inspectors since the end of January. It is attempting to quantify the biological and chemical weapons that it says were destroyed in 1991. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03]

Iraq's destruction of several Al Samoud II missiles represents a real step towards disarmament. “The destruction undertaken constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament,” he says. “We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks. Lethal weapons are being destroyed.” [New York Times, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]

Blix says that the UN inspectors needed a few more months to finish their work. “Even with a proactive Iraqi attitude induced by continued outside pressure, it will still take some time to verify sites and items, analyze documents, interview relevant persons and draw conclusions,” he says, concluding, “It will not take years, nor weeks, but months.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03]

Iraqi scientists have recently accepted inspectors' requests to be interviewed without “minders.” “Since we started requesting interviews, 38 individuals were asked for private interviews, of which 10 accepted under our terms, seven during the past week,” Blix explains. [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03]

Some Iraqi scientists have agreed to interviews without “minders” —but more cooperation is needed. He says, “While the Iraqi side seems to have encouraged interviewees not to request the presence of Iraqi officials or the taping of the interviews, conditions ensuring the absence of undue influences are difficult to attain inside Iraq.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
Iraq needs to turn over more documents. “Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons. Only a few new such documents have come to light so far and been handed over since we began.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03] There is no evidence of underground weapons facilities. Blix says: “There have been reports, denied by Iraq, that proscribed activities are conducted underground. Iraq should provide information on underground structures suitable for the production or storage of weapons of mass destruction. During inspections of declared or undeclared facilities, inspectors examined building structures for any possible underground facilities. In addition, ground-penetrating radar was used in several locations. No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found.” [UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
IAEA report by Mohamed ElBaradei -

There is no evidence that the aluminum tubes imported by Iraq in July 2001 were meant for a nuclear weapons program. ElBaradei says: “Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets. ... Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuges out of the aluminum tubes in question.” [Reuters, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; IAEA, 3/7/03]

There is no evidence that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Niger. Documents provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the US were determined to be forgeries. The documents were a collection of letters between an Iraqi diplomat and senior Niger officials discussing Iraq's interest in procuring a large amount of uranium oxide (see Early October 2002). “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that documents which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic,” ElBaradei explains. “We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.” (see June 12, 2003) [IAEA, 3/7/03; The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Reuters, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Guardian, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/8/03]

The IAEA has yet to come across evidence of a nuclear weapons program. “After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq,” ElBaradei states. “[T]here is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.” [The Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/8/03; Globe and Mail, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; IAEA, 3/7/03]

In a direct response to allegations made by Colin Powell on February 5 (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) related to the attempted procurement of magnets that could be used in a gas centrifuge, ElBaradei, says: “The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing.” [IAEA, 3/7/03]

Iraq's industrial capacity “has deteriorated” at the inspected sites because of lack of maintenance and funds. [IAEA, 3/7/03]

Reaction - Both sides claim that the reports give further support to each of their respective stances on the issue of Iraqi disarmament. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin tells the Council that the reports “testify to the progress” of the inspections. He states that France will not support another resolution because “we cannot accept any ultimatum, any automatic use of force.” Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says that the reports demonstrate that inspections have been “fruitful.” The Bush administration does not alter its position, despite statements by the two inspectors that Iraq is cooperating with inspections and complying with demands to disarm. Colin Powell, responding to the inspectors' reports, reiterates the administration's position that the inspections are not working and that Saddam is not cooperating. “We must not walk away,” Powell says. “We must not find ourselves here this coming November with the pressure removed and with Iraq once again marching down the merry path to weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region, threatening the world.” He claims that Iraq's behavior is a “a catalog still of noncooperation” and repeats the administration's allegation that the “Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” Back at the White House, Ari Fleischer tells reporters, “As the president has said, if the United Nations will not disarm Saddam Hussein, it will be another international organization, a coalition of the willing that will be made up of numerous nations that will disarm Saddam Hussein.” [CNN, 3/6/03; US Department of State, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/02]

People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, Mohamed ElBaradei, Ari Fleischer, Dominique de Villepin, Igor Ivanov, Colin Powell  Additional Info 
          

Before March 19, 2003

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime has or is currently developing nuclear weapons.
 Additional Info 
          

After March 19, 2003

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge continue to refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime had or was developing nuclear weapons.
 Additional Info 
          

Before March 19, 2003

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge say that there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime has chemical or biological weapons or that he is currently developing them.
 Additional Info 
          

April 19, 2003

       US authorities in Iraq seize a trailer at a checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul. The government will later claim that this trailer, as well as another one that is discovered on May 9 (see May 9, 2003), is a mobile biological weapons lab. [ABC News, 5/21/03; Houston Chronicle, 5/9/03]
          

May 4, 2003

       The Sunday Herald reports: “Senior officials in the Bush administration have admitted that they would be ‘amazed’ if weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were found in Iraq.... [One] senior US official added that America never expected to find a huge arsenal, arguing that the administration was more concerned about the ability of Saddam's scientists—which he labeled the ‘nuclear mujahadeen’ —to develop WMDs when the crisis passed.” [The Observer, 5/4/03; Sunday Herald, 5/4/03 Sources: Unnamed senior administration officials]
          

May 9, 2003

       The US Army's 101st Airborne Division finds a second trailer at al-Kindi, a former missile research facility in Iraq. The government will later claim that this trailer, as well as another one discovered on April 19 (see April 19, 2003), is a mobile biological weapons lab. [ABC News, 5/21/03; Houston Chronicle, 5/9/03; Department of Defense, 5/13/03]
          

May 28, 2003

       The CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] issue a 6-page white paper titled, “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants,” concluding that the two trailers discovered in northern Iraq were designed to produce biological weapons. It calls the discovery, “the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.” The assessment is based on a comparison of the trailers to descriptions that had been provided by Iraqi sources prior to the invasion. The report also claims that there are no other plausible explanations for the trailers' purpose, [New York Times, 6/26/03; New York Times, 6/7/03] though the report does mention that Iraqis working at the al-Kindi research facility in Mosul, as well as a company that manufactured components for the trailers, say the trailers were built to make hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. [Los Angeles Times, 6/21/03] The document is not without its dissenters. Some DIA analysts reportedly disagree with the paper's finding. [New York Times, 8/9/03; New York Times, 6/26/03] It is later learned that the report was completed before the investigation had run its full course. A week after the report's release, laboratories in the Middle East and the United States were still analyzing more than 100 samples that had been taken from the trailers. A senior analyst tells the New York Times that the white paper “was a rushed job and looks political.” [New York Times, 6/7/03] It is also discovered the two agencies did not consult with other intelligence offices. Normally such reports are not finalized until there is a consensus among the government's numerous intelligence agencies. “The exclusion of the State Department's intelligence bureau and other agencies seemed unusual, several government officials said, because of the high-profile subject,” the New York Times will later report. Moreover, the State Department's intelligence agency was not even informed that the report was being prepared. [New York Times, 6/26/03]
          

2:28 p.m. May 29, 2003

       In an interview with Polish TV station TVP, hours before leaving on a seven-day trip to Europe and the Middle East, Bush says: “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.” [White House, 5/29/03; Washington Post, 5/31/03]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

June 1, 2003

       In St. Petersburg, Russia, Bush says, responding to a US reporter's question, “Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited.” [Rosbalt News Agency, 1/6/03]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

June 2, 2003

       Mahdi Obeidi, the Iraqi nuclear scientist who once headed Iraq's gas centrifuge program for uranium enrichment, leads US investigators to the rose garden behind his house where they dig up “200 blueprints of gas centrifuge components, 180 documents describing their use and samples of a few sensitive parts.” These items had been buried under orders from Qusay Hussein in 1991. (see February 5, 2004). [Washington Post, 10/18/03; CNN, 6/26/03; Newsweek, 8/8/03 Sources: David Albright]
People and organizations involved: Mahdi Obeidi, Qusay Hussein
          

June 2, 2003

       The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research authors a classified memo addressed to Colin Powell, informing him that current intelligence did not support the conclusion of the joint CIA-DIA May 28 white paper (see May 28, 2003) which concluded that the two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological weapon factories. The memo also says that the CIA and DIA were wrong in asserting that there were no other plausible uses for the trailer, suggesting that the two pieces of equipment may have been designed for refueling Iraqi missiles. [New York Times, 6/26/03; CBS News, 6/27/03; Fox News, 6/26/03 Sources: Unnamed US government officials]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

Between June 3, 2003 and June 17, 2003

       Mahdi Obeidi is taken into custody by US Special Forces. He is released on June 17, 2003. During his detention, Obeidi is interviewed by US authorities seeking to learn more about Saddam's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. But instead of meeting with a US nuclear physicist as Obeidi expects, he is interviewed by CIA agent Joe T., the main proponent of the theory that the 81mm aluminum tubes Iraq attempted to import in July 2001 (see July 2001) had been meant for a centrifuge program. Joe's area of expertise, however, is not nuclear physics. His background relates to export controls (see Early 1980s) (see (1999)). When asked about Saddam's efforts to develop nuclear weapons, Obeidi does not tell Joe T. what he wants to hear. Instead, he tells him that Saddam abandoned the program in 1991 as the Iraqi government had claimed in its December 7 declaration to the UN. He adds that if the program had been restarted, he would have known about it. He also says that the tube shipment confiscated by the CIA in July 2001 was completely unrelated to nuclear weapons. Those tubes—with a diameter of 81mm—could not have been used in the gas centrifuge designed by Obeidi, which specified tubes with a 145mm diameter. “The physics of a centrifuge would not permit a simple substitution of aluminum tubes for the maraging steel and carbon fiber designs used by Obeidi,” The Washington Post will later report. Obeidi and his family will later move to a CIA safe house in Kuwait. [Newsweek, 8/8/03; Washington Post, 10/18/03 Sources: David Albright] At the end of the summer, he will receive permission to move to an East Coast suburb on the basis of Public Law 110 , which allows “those who help the United States by providing valuable intelligence information” to resettle in the US. [CIA, 11/02/03 Sources: David Kay]
People and organizations involved: Joe T., Mahdi Obeidi
          

June 8, 2003

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice repeats claims from her White House briefing ten days earlier (see May 28, 2003) that trailers discovered in Iraq support Secretary of State Colin Powell's allegations set out in February before the United Nations “Already, we've discovered, uh, uh, trailers, uh, that look remarkably similar to what Colin Powell described in his February 5th speech,” biological weapons production facilities. [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; US Defense Department, 6/9/03; United States Marine Corps, 6/9/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

June 11, 2003

       Congressional Republicans on Wednesday reject Democratic calls for a formal investigation into pre-war US intelligence and allegations that the White House exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq. The Republicans contend that an investigation is not needed because there is no evidence of wrongdoing. [Associated Press, 6/11/03; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/12/03; Washington Post, 6/12/03]
          

Late June 2003

       US and British intelligence experts conclude that the two trailers found in northern Iraq—which the Bush administration continues to insist are mobile biological weapon factories—are part of an Artillery Meteorological System sold to Iraq in 1987 by the British company AMS, then known as Marconi Command & Control. The mobile system is designed to chemically produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. The trailers “are not mobile germ warfare laboratories,” a British scientist and biological weapons expert tells The Observer of London. “You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were—facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.” [Observer, 6/8/03; Observer, 6/15/03] Similarly, an unnamed intelligence source tells the Los Angeles Times that “he is convinced that the seized trailers were indeed designed to produce hydrogen gas to fill weather balloons that were routinely used by Iraqi field artillery batteries.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/21/03] Interestingly, it is revealed that the US military itself possesses 19 trailers (AN/TMQ-42 Hydrogen Generators) designed to produce hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. [Los Angeles Times, 6/21/03] There are several reasons why experts do not believe the trailers were involved in the production of biological weapons. Firstly, no trace of pathogens are detected in the trailers' suspected fermentation tanks. [Observer, 6/8/03] Secondly, the trailers had canvas sides which would not have made sense if they were meant to be used as biological weapon labs. “The canvas tarps covering the sides of the trucks appeared designed to be pulled away to let excess heat and gas escape during the production of hydrogen. The trailers had canvas sides,” explains one source to the Los Angeles Times. “The tarps would allow in far too much road dust and other contamination if the equipment inside were meant to produce biowarfare agents.” [Observer, 6/8/03; Observer, 6/8/03 Sources: Unnamed veteran intelligence official] Thirdly, there was a “shortage of pumps required to create vacuum conditions required for working with germ cultures and other processes usually associated with making biological weapons.” [Observer, 6/8/03] Fourthly, the trailers had no “autoclave for steam sterilization, normally a prerequisite for any kind of biological production.” Without a means to sterilize “between production runs would threaten to let in germ contaminants, resulting in failed weapons.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/21/03; Observer, 6/8/03; New York Times, 6/7/03 Sources: William C. Patrick III, Unnamed veteran intelligence official] Lastly, there was no “easy way for technicians to remove germ fluids from the processing tank.” [New York Times, 6/7/03; Los Angeles Times, 6/21/03; Observer, 6/8/03]
          

Mid-December 2003

       The existence of a June 2002 memo—revealing that intelligence from the INC was being sent directly to the offices of Dick Cheney and William Luti—is reported in the December 15 issue of Newsweek magazine, which also reports that Francis Brooke, a DC lobbyist for the INC, admits having supplied Cheney's office with information pertaining to Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to militant Islamic groups. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Francis Brooke, Memo] Furthermore, he acknowedges that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I'm a smart man. I saw what they wanted, and I adapted my strategy,” he later admits. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Vanity Fair, 5/04, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] However, an unnamed Cheney aid interviewed by the same magazine flatly denies that his boss' office had received raw intelligence on Iraq. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Unnamed staff aid of Dick Cheney's office]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, William Luti, Francis Brooke
          

Early July 2003

       Count Hans von Sponeck, the UN's former co-coordinator in Iraq and former UN under-secretary general, during a trip to Iraq, visits two factories near Baghdad which US surveillance equipment has identified as possible biological and chemical weapons production sites. The first plant he visits is the Al-Dora plant, which at one time had produced vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease, but which was destroyed by the UNSCOM weapons inspectors. Hans von Sponeck, who is not an expert in biological or chemical weapons, says of the Al-Dora plant: “'There is nothing. It is in the same destroyed status. It is a totally locked up institution where there is not one sign of a resumed activity.” Von Sponeck also visits the Al-Fallouja factory, where he witnesses the production of “pesticides, insecticides and material for hygienic purpose in households, on very minor scale,” reports CNN. “Most of the buildings are destroyed,” he tells the news network. [CNN Europe, 7/13/02]
People and organizations involved: Hans von Sponeck
          

July 11, 2003

       National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice claims neither she nor the president had read the footnotes from a National Intelligence Estimate report from the previous October which clearly states serious doubt that Hussein was pursuing a nuclear program “The only thing that was there in the NIE was a kind of a standard INR footnote, which is kind of 59 pages away from the bulk of the NIE. That's the only thing that's there. And you have footnotes all the time in CIA - I mean, in NIEs. So if there was a concern about the underlying intelligence there, the president was unaware of that concern and as was I.” [Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; White House, 7/11/03]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

September 25, 2003

       Top Republican legislators Porter J. Goss and Jane Harman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence send a letter to CIA Director George J. Tenet, criticizing his agency for providing poor intelligence on Iraq during the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. They were prompted to write the letter after spending “four months combing through 19 volumes of classified material” and discovering how poorly the evidence supported the White House's assertions about Iraq. Administration officials downplay the charges. In the letter, they say the CIA provided intelligence based on “circumstantial,” “fragmentary,” and ambiguous evidence. “Thus far, it appears that these judgments were based on too many uncertainties,” they note in their letter. [Washington Post, 9/28/03; Reuters, 9/29/03] They also accuse the CIA of using intelligence that was outdated, including assessments dating back to 1998 when the UN was forced to leave Iraq ahead of US bombing. Evidence that was recent often consisted of “piecemeal” intelligence. “Intelligence assessments that Iraq continued to pursue chemical and biological weapons ... were long-standing judgments,” which “remained constant and static over the past ten years,” they complain in the letter. [Washington Post, 9/28/03; Reuters, 9/29/03] Another criticism they have is that the intelligence agency sometimes drew conclusions based on faulty logic. “The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist,” they say. [Reuters, 9/29/03; Washington Post, 9/28/03] Lastly, they complain that the CIA uncritically accepted claims from dubious sources. In the agency's assessments, it failed to clarify which reports “were from sources that were credible and which were from sources that would otherwise be dismissed in the absence of any other corroborating intelligence.” [Washington Post, 9/28/03] Significantly, the authors assert, “We have not found any information in the assessments that are still classified that was any more definitive.” [Washington Post, 9/27/03] The White House dismisses the two Republicans' criticisms.
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Jane Harman, Porter J. Goss  Additional Info 
          

October 2003

       Robin Cook publishes portions of a diary he had kept when he was Blair's foreign minister. The published memoirs reveal—among other things—that Tony Blair had intentionally misled the British population. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] The diary reveals how before the war intelligence provided to Cook by John Scarlett indicated that Saddam Hussein probably did not have weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the US or Britain. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] Cook's entries also show that before the war, Blair did not believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the US or Britain. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03; Guardian, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] Additionally, the diary shows that Tony Blair ignored the “large number of ministers who spoke up against the war.” He says that the officials in the foreign ministry were consistently opposed to the invasion of Iraq. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: John Scarlett, Tony Blair  Additional Info 
          

January 28, 2004

       David Kay presents his final report to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the results of his weapons inspection teams' search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong,” he says in his opening remarks, before revealing that the inspection teams had found no weapons of mass destruction. “I believe that the effort that has been directed to this point has been sufficiently intense that it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons there,” he says. [Guardian, 1/29/03; CNN, 1/28/03 Sources: David Kay]
People and organizations involved: David Kay
          

February 14, 2004

       The CIA sends a memo to top Bush administration officials informing them that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda operative being held in custody by the CIA, recanted his claim in January that Iraq provided training in poisons and gases to members of al-Qaeda (see September 2002). [Washington Post, 11/6/2005, pp A22; The New York Times, 7/31/2004; Newsweek, 7/5/2005] The claim has already been used in speeches by both President George Bush (see October 7, 2002) and Secretary of State Colin Powell (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003).
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, Colin Powell
          

Mid-January 2004

       In an interview with Time magazine, former US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill says he never saw or heard of any real evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,” he explains. “There were allegations and assertions by people.... But I've been around a hell of a long time, and I know the difference between evidence and assertions and illusions or allusions and conclusions that one could draw from a set of assumptions. To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else. And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence.” [Time, 1/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Paul O'Neill
          


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