Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ISIS and Iraqi Chemical Plant: Threat or Not — Honest Clarity Needed

Iraq's Old Chemical Plant 
(old story making new rounds)

New story or older one recycled? From the WSJ here (June 2014), plus a lot of other sources (many are conspiracy links).

A lot of media is stirring about ISIS/ISIL now in control of the old Iraqi chemical plant – reputable reporting is, however, far and few between, but that has not stopped the hype about this old issue. More below from here, in part:

The Iraq Study group did find chemical munitions at the Muthanna facility, but they also determined that inspections by United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM, had ensured the facility was dismantled and remaining chemical stocks militarily useless and sealed in bunkers, saying in one report, in part:

“Two wars, sanctions and Unscom oversight reduced Iraqi's premier production facility to a stockpile of old damaged and contaminated chemical munitions (sealed in bunkers), a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities.” (Cite: the Iraq Study Group's 2004 report).

The Muthanna complex is near Lake Tharthar, roughly 45 miles northwest of Baghdad, an area now firmly in control of ISIS/ISIL. Further, ISIS has taken control of most of Anbar province as well as Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

Key Point: Military officials said the U.S. was well aware of the Muthanna stockpile and wouldn't have left it there if it posed a military threat.  HOWEVER: "When the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, it didn't anticipate a large swath of the country, including numerous military bases, would be overrun by radical Sunni militants. One defense official said that if the U.S. had known the Iraqi government would lose control so soon, it might not have left the old chemical weapons in place."

(I INTERJECT: That is a mighty big “if” isn’t it?).

U.S. officials repeatedly emphasized the takeover of the chemical weapons stocks didn't constitute a significant military gain by ISIS. The group, multiple officials said, would find the weapons militarily useless even if they were to get access to the sealed bunkers where they are stored. Officials said the group hasn't yet gained access to those bunkers, with one military official saying: “The only people who would likely be harmed by these chemical materials would be the people who tried to use or move them.”

(I INTERJECT: ISIS probably could care less about that aspect as I’m pretty sure, they are trying to get things in order for their use – a pretty rational thought).

ISIS military gains have been aided by other Sunni groups including Baathists and other former loyalists to Hussein. Officers in Hussein's army have also taken leadership roles in the rebellion. Some of those men may have some working knowledge of the use of chemical weapons from the Iran-Iraq war.  

My Summary: I am not one for conspiracies of any kind – preferring to deal in facts rather than opinion. But, if there are “working chemical weapons or viable chemicals or any kind” stored at that facility and could by any stretch of the imagination end up with ISIS/ISIL, and the U.S. knows or even suspect such a scenario, then it is incumbent on us to conduct quick bombing raids there to totally wipe it out. That is rational thinking and possibly what is needed. Putting all that aside, I firmly believe the public has a compelling need to know the whole and true story. 

Thus, some clarity seems to be in order, don’t cha’ think? Just call it honesty and clarity in a valid update.

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