November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website,, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to, a multimedia blog and resource center.

Search site - New! Calendar - Calendar Archive
Contents - Archives - War Crimes - GI Special - Student Activism - Links

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

Go to Annotated Glen Rangwala Iraq Index

The Final Nail
(17 October 2003)

Published in Labour Left Briefing (November 2003)

Glen Rangwala -

The year-long rigmarole undertaken by the British government to justify the invasion of Iraq finally lost its last veneer of credibility on 2 October. In April, Tony Blair had said that, "once we have the cooperation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt that we will find them", referring to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He told the House of Commons on 4 June that he still lacked the ability to think critically: "it is only now that the Iraq Survey Group has been put together ... As I have said throughout, I have no doubt that they will find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction". Well, now the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) has reported - and they found no evidence of any prohibited weapons.

David Kay, who has spent the last few years as a media pundit talking up the Iraqi threat, boasted before entering Iraq to act as the unofficial head of the ISG that the US forces would find not only a "smoking gun", but a "smoking arsenal", in Iraq. Even he was unable to put a positive spin on his report to the US administration. He reported that the ISG's sources inside Iraq recognised that Iraq did not have a chemical weapons programme after 1991. He acknowledged that the putative mobile laboratories found in Iraq after the invasion did not have the technical requirements for the efficient production of biological weapons. And he does not even mention the alleged attempts by Iraq to import uranium or the supposed battlefield munitions ready to fire within 45 minutes.

He made a few half-hearted attempts to claim Iraqi production of prohibited weapons was continuing. A reference to a "a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced" seems to have made Jack Straw quiver with delight. It's "15,000 times more toxic than the nerve agent VX", he thundered on Radio 4 the next day.

Err, no. That's botulinum type A, one of the most lethal substances known and one that was loaded into missiles by Iraq before 1990. Type B, by contrast, has never been successfully weaponised: the US should know that, because it tried and failed. It is also much less dangerous. Kay later disclosed in an interview that this vial had been in a scientist's kitchen fridge since 1993: there had been no attempt to extract the toxin from the live agent, and no attempt by the regime to reclaim this vial from the scientist, even when weapons inspectors were out of the country. An investigation by the Los Angeles Times traced the probable source of the botulinum to a centre in Manassas, Virginia, barely thirty miles west of Washington D.C. They sold at least seven batches of botulinum to Iraq between 1986 and 1988.

Kay provides the most detail in his findings of Iraq's missile programmes. Kay claimed that Iraq sought to "obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300km range ballistic missiles", maintained facilities that could produce fuel propellant for SCUD missiles, and had designs for long-range missiles. What Kay never shows is that Iraq had produced anything that was prohibited.

The standard imposed on Iraq for missiles is different from that in place for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The Security Council in 1991 prohibited Iraq from even having any research and support facilities for weapons of mass destruction. For missiles, though, it was simply prohibited from actual having the longer range missiles themselves, together with major parts and repair and production facilities. Kay did not demonstrate that Iraq had any of these things. Iraq was not barred from developing technology so that when the prohibition on missiles was lifted, it could go ahead and produce them. Kay does not show that Iraq violated any Security Council resolutions; in fact, his description seems to indicate that Iraq in fact stuck to the letter of the law.

Kay does attempt to salvage his survey group by claiming that his staff of 1,400 have only examined 10 out of Iraq's 130 "Ammunition Storage Points" (meaning their military depots), and that there could be chemical weapons hidden in these depots. He asked for a doubling of his budget so that they could be searched. This was directly in contrast with the view I obtained from officials associated with the ISG whom I interviewed in Baghdad in September. They saw their work as more or less finished, that they'd done all that they could do to find those elusive weapons.

It is also in direct contrast to what the ISG was originally set up for at the end of May. It was explicitly not meant to be a hunt through various sites in Iraq for rogue facilities: that was the approach of the original US military unit sent in to look for Iraq's weapons in March, which was seen to have failed because it found nothing. The ISG by contrast was meant to have an "intelligence-led" approach that would start off by interrogating scientists and officials, and by going over their documents. This, they thought, would reveal where the weapons were and how the programmes were working.

However, the views of those individuals seem to be quite straightforward. The nuclear weapons programme had been shut down in 1991, explained a former senior Iraqi nuclear scientist to the Financial Times. The whole nuclear programme had been dismantled, a former high-ranking Iraqi official told Reuters. All the prohibited programmes had been shut down for early 1990s, a senior Iraqi military advisor told Time Magazine. Iraq only managed to produce unstable forms of VX nerve agent in the late 1980s and stopped after that, one of the heads of Iraq's chemical weapons programmes before 1991 told the New Republic journal. Even though there is every incentive for these individuals to tell stories of weapons production, it is possible that they are all lying. Personally, I'm more inclined to believe that Blair is.


Page created October 28, 2003 by Charlie Jenks