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Nukes Away
June 25, 2003 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Nuke components found in Baghdad back yard. U.S. officials say it is no smoking gun but investigators point out that there is no way they would ever have found these components buried in a barrel in a back yard under a rose garden for 12 years unless someone such as this Iraqi scientist came forward.
posted by Ron (44 comments total)

 
This is truly a demonstration of Iraq's prowess and expertise. I'm glad that our fearless leader decided to free us from this dire threat to our freedom.

Also, if you want, you can buy a book on isotope separation. Nukes for everyone!
posted by bshort at 9:20 PM on June 25, 2003


Nightline is going to interview Rand Beers tonight, btw.
posted by homunculus at 9:23 PM on June 25, 2003


Looks like the scientist in question got a free trip to the US. I don't want to sound cynical but if I could use some old engine parts to get the hell out of Iraq, I would.

But then again, I'm not a nuclear scientist.
posted by spazzm at 9:26 PM on June 25, 2003


"The infidels are at the gates, but we shall drive them back with the secret weapons system they always said we had!"

"Quick, someone find a shovel and a pair of hedge clippers!"
posted by djc at 9:39 PM on June 25, 2003


This is truly a demonstration of Iraq's prowess and expertise. I'm glad that our fearless leader decided to free us from this dire threat to our freedom.

"Bush lied! There are no WMD! Impeach Bush!"
"Uh... it's a big country that's recently been torn by a major war. Perhaps we should give 'em more than two months to make big discoveries?"
"Bush lied! There are no WMD! Impeach Bush!"
"Look, here's something interesting. What do you think about this?"
"Oh, THOSE WMD. Oh, that's nothing. Bush invaded a sovereign nation over a few geegaws. Impeach Bush!"
posted by jammer at 9:44 PM on June 25, 2003


How could I have been so blind! Please, Blessed Most Holy President; let me kiss your ring in supplication. Forgive this wayward unbeliever!

I have seen the light and drunk the kool-aid! Mama I'm coming home!

("Buried for 12 years" does not an "immanent threat" make. Impeach Bush.)
posted by Cerebus at 9:47 PM on June 25, 2003


Jammer,

Before you take a crack at becoming part of the Mighty Wurlitzer, you should know that a "Uranium Enrichment Plant" doesn't refer to a couple of spare parts buried under a rose bush. I know: Plant/Plant... Still, they're not the same.

Imminent Threat--a crucial concept I wish the right could get a stranglehold on.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 10:04 PM on June 25, 2003


OK, a question, then, for you ever-so-wise people who haven't drunk the kool-aid:

If this truly is material for a nuclear program which was known about and hidden with the intention of jumpstarting a future program, how is it not a Material Breach(tm)?
posted by jammer at 10:05 PM on June 25, 2003


Tiger_Lily, could you or someone else please pin down which of the many self-contradictory arguments you're going to use against Bush tonight? Is it about the lack of WMD, or the lack of an Imminent Threat, or the lack of UN approval, or perhaps just whichever one doesn't force you to reconstruct your world view at any given time because it's been proven wrong?
posted by jammer at 10:08 PM on June 25, 2003


I suppose the rose bush would qualify as a nuclear plant, then, eh?

Any word on whether it grew particularly well? Was it named Audrey? Were any dentists involved?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:10 PM on June 25, 2003


I am, as stated above, not a nuclear scientist; but I'm imagining that gas centrifuges can be used for other things than producing weapons-grade uranium. Does gas centrifuges have a role in civilian nuclear programs?

Also, how do we know that this really is a gas centrifuge, and not another false alarm?
posted by spazzm at 10:13 PM on June 25, 2003


We don't, spazzm, not yet, and I'm perfectly willing to grant that it may (and, I suspect, will likely) be another false alarm. I just object to the way that certain members of the loyal opposition can raise a royal stink about "lack of evidence", while at the same time refusing to seriously consider any possible evidence that comes to light. That and the redefinition of terms is annoying me.
posted by jammer at 10:16 PM on June 25, 2003


It looks like there are perfectly legal and peaceful uses for gas centrifuges.

Sorry to answer my own question like this, but this is not a smoking gun.
posted by spazzm at 10:19 PM on June 25, 2003


If it had been manufactured or puchased recently, you might have a case.
As it happens, it isn't new and it isn't even a complete centrifugal component. Forget about the fact that you need hundreds of centrifuges working to produce a serious weapons threat.

They may yet find some clandestine weapons caches--but this isn't it. It isn't even close.

After seeing updates on preview:
Given that I haven't made any arguments this evening, your criticism is out of order. You need to do a lot of homework, apparently, on why Bush might sell you a war that you didn't need. Don't trust a lefty like me--turn to Ken Pollack, turn to PNAC...

Bush did lie. You got roped in, which is not a sin (it should have been an unthinkable assualt on your intellect and dignity as a democratized citizen). But it's time to wake up and face it--Bush lied to wage an unneccesary war.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 10:19 PM on June 25, 2003


But it's time to wake up and face it--Bush lied to wage an unneccesary war.

Thanks for opening my eyes, dear. Until you pointed the truth out to me, I hadn't realized that I'd been duped by an evil megalomaniacal cowboy who apparently is too stupid to tawk good, but is smart enough to organize a vast conspiracy to wage an unjust war and cover his tracks afterward. How silly of me.

Isn't it great that simply stating what you wish to be true is a surefire way to make it so and win every argument you enter? I'm so happy I live in Kindergartenland.
posted by jammer at 10:41 PM on June 25, 2003


I just object to the way that certain members of the loyal opposition can raise a royal stink about "lack of evidence", while at the same time refusing to seriously consider any possible evidence that comes to light.

there's a difference between "seriously considering" and flipping out over a pair of trailers.

That and the redefinition of terms is annoying me.

you're the one that just called an engine part a weapon of mass destruction.

Isn't it great that simply stating what you wish to be true is a surefire way to make it so and win every argument you enter?

ahem...

Tiger_Lily, could you or someone else please pin down which of the many self-contradictory arguments you're going to use against Bush tonight? [...] perhaps just whichever one doesn't force you to reconstruct your world view at any given time because it's been proven wrong?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:45 PM on June 25, 2003


there's a difference between "seriously considering" and flipping out over a pair of trailers.

But pre-emptively dismissing anything that comes up before its true nature can be ascertained is neither, I assure you.

you're the one that just called an engine part a weapon of mass destruction.

Oh, BS. It was hyperbole intended to prove a point.

ahem...

OK, I'll admit a bit of tu coque in the bit after your elision there, but at least, in the opener, I was seriously trying to define the point from which Tiger Lily was debating so that I could understand what he (she?) was coming from. I didn't get the same consideration from him.
posted by jammer at 10:52 PM on June 25, 2003


Seems as though it might have taken a bit longer to activate these than the 45 minutes the world was led to believe.

And Josh Marshall weighs in on other WMD *evidence* - A rose is a rose is a rose
posted by madamjujujive at 10:56 PM on June 25, 2003


That this remained buried for 12 years suggests that Saddam was deterable as long as he thought he was being watched. Ironicaly, I think it's evidence that he was in material breach but that he was not an immanent threat.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on June 25, 2003


How do you people know this is not evidence of an immenent threat? Maybe there is an Iraqi Macgyver. Give him a few spare parts, a rose bush and some camel shit and he'll build an intercontinental ballistic missile. Oh! And a Swiss Army Knife. You can't do it without one of those.
posted by bargle at 11:04 PM on June 25, 2003


Jammer,

You can be defensive and feign confusion as to my gender if you like, it’s no skin off my nose.

If you don’t like having your "eyes opened" by me, perhaps these folks will have better luck:

Ken Pollack, July 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs:

“IT'S THE OIL, STUPID
America's primary interest in the Persian Gulf lies in ensuring the free and stable flow of oil from the region to the world at large. This fact has nothing to do with the conspiracy theories leveled against the Bush administration during the run-up to the recent war. U.S. interests do not center on whether gas is $2 or $3 at the pump, or whether Exxon gets contracts instead of Lukoil or Total. Nor do they depend on the amount of oil that the United States itself imports from the Persian Gulf or anywhere else. The reason the United States has a legitimate and critical interest in seeing that Persian Gulf oil continues to flow copiously and relatively cheaply is simply that the global economy built over the last 50 years rests on a foundation of inexpensive, plentiful oil, and if that foundation were removed, the global economy would collapse.”
http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20030701faessay15401/kenneth-m-pollack/securing-the-gulf.html

PNAC (many of whom are either current cabinet members or advisors to this administration) – Letter to Clinton in 1998:
“[I]f we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.”
http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

This is a free country, like Bush or don’t—that’s your business. But realize this, if you allow this president to send American soldiers to die in a preemptive war, based on a premise that turns out to be little more than a mirage in the sand, and don’t demand answers when that fact becomes painfully clear, after we’ve killed tens of thousands of innocent people—you’ll be stuck with it forever.

What will that make you? It will make you a slave.

It's your call though, and I've better thinks to do than fuss with a stranger tonight.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 11:20 PM on June 25, 2003


I don't really see how this is a "WMD", no matter if there are civilian uses for a gas centrifuge, or not. After all, a Weapon of Mass Destruction needs to be first a foremost a weapon. Right?

A gas centrifuge (and not even a complete one at that) hidden by a scientist in his own backyard is not a weapon, unless you're going to bean someone over the head with it
posted by bshort at 11:28 PM on June 25, 2003


What really stuck out in the article, for me, is how the hell did he grow roses in the desert? I don't have a green thumb but aren't roses hard to grow especially with nuclear parts buried under them?
posted by Ron at 12:10 AM on June 26, 2003


Iraq isn't entirely desert. There's a reason your junior-high history teacher called the region between the Tigris and Euphrates the "fertile crescent". Next time footage of Baghdad is shown, look in the background. Like LA, Baghdad benefits from lots of irrigation.


As far as the debate over the threat posed by these components and their use as justification for combat, this quote from the article looks like fuel for a potentially illuminating fire:

" David Kay, who led three U.N. arms inspection missions in Iraq in 1991-92 and now heads the CIA's search for unconventional weapons, started work two days ago in Baghdad. CNN spoke to him about the case over a secure teleconferencing line.

"It begins to tell us how huge our job is," Kay said. "Remember, his material was buried in a barrel behind his house in a rose garden.

"There's no way that that would have been discovered by normal international inspections. I couldn't have done it. My successors couldn't have done it."
emphasis mine
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:37 AM on June 26, 2003


see also Grasping At Straws
posted by y2karl at 1:13 AM on June 26, 2003


FYI

Yes Yes Yes. Nuclear materials are pretty much everywhere. They happen to not be killing us but are killing our arch nemesis Saddam loyalists instead (read: "innocent" insidious Iraqi civilians). Nuclear crap everywhere kills us all. Even motherfucking rumsfeld would succumb to a case of too many REMs. We all are human afterall.

When are you bored, war mongering, bush apologists going to get real and just recognize that your dittohead infused hurrah has been utterly DOA? Buzz Pop Whir. People think. People are not happy. Are you going to force us all to enjoy your circus sideshow fist of freedom?

Great job supporting the "The Troops" (read: ordinary Americans fighting on the side of corporate tyranny whether they realize it or not) and all. I mean, really good job standing for what is right. Liberty, freedom, the right for Iraqi nuclear refuse to stand tall and assert itself in the world America seeks to keep safe for Bush's lofty ideal of democracy and liberty.

Priorities are so out of whack. You're losing. The world is awakening. You're done. And if not, things then, are only about to get more interesting. You're still done. Because we all are done eventually.
posted by crasspastor at 1:16 AM on June 26, 2003


Thank God we had a President willing to speak so truthfully to the American people, and to sacrifice hundreds (and counting) of Coalition (tm) soldiers, and thousands (and counting) of Iraqi civilians to find these extraordinarily dangerous gas centrifuge parts buried twelve years ago underneath someone's rose bush.

Imminent threat, I tell you. Why aren't precision bombs raining down on Iraqi flower gardens this very minute? Why aren't our Brave Soldiers (tm) being issued spades in spades? Let's roll.

But pre-emptively dismissing anything that comes up before its true nature can be ascertained is neither, I assure you.

Well, gee, "dear"....maybe you could pull that splinter out of your eye and spare us your own preemptive spin ("Material Breach (tm)") and stupid salivating over it (as well as your everlasting, infantile strawman bullshit), mmmkay?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:56 AM on June 26, 2003


I just have to point out that the headline "nuke components found" is misleading.

"nuke components" implies that the components are exclusively for use in the manufacture or design of nuclear weapons - unlike components that may be, but are not necessarily, used for nuclear weapons; such as sheet metal, screws or, as in this case, gas centrifuges.

Otherwise great post, sorry for the nitpick.
posted by spazzm at 3:06 AM on June 26, 2003


We see things NOT as they are but as WE are
posted by Postroad at 4:01 AM on June 26, 2003


perception becomes reality.
posted by shadow45 at 4:44 AM on June 26, 2003


Even motherfucking rumsfeld would succumb to a case of too many REMs.

Has Rummy been taking too many naps?
posted by jpburns at 4:55 AM on June 26, 2003


(sings) "I'm sorry darling, I never promised you a rose garden."
posted by dabitch at 5:26 AM on June 26, 2003


Tiger_Lily, could you or someone else please pin down which of the many self-contradictory arguments you're going to use against Bush tonight? Is it about the lack of WMD, or the lack of an Imminent Threat, or the lack of UN approval, or perhaps just whichever one doesn't force you to reconstruct your world view at any given time because it's been proven wrong?

Un-fucking-believable. With all the spin the Bush administration has made to justifiy this invasion "he's got WMDs. No it's about Iraqi freedom. No, the U.S. could be a dust cloud in six months. No, it's links to Al-Qaeda. No, it's..." you are daring to suggest that it's those contrary to the decision to go to war who are grasping at the straws of justification?

I guess grabbing an axe and going for my knees because you need to compensate for your own lack of a leg to stand on could be considered a valid option, but do excuse me for calling complete and utter bullshit on that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:10 AM on June 26, 2003


I don't know why stuff like this is worth worrying about. Face it, the Bush administration is going to find what its looking for whether it exists or not.

We'll see a report soon that something hugely incriminating has been found. It will either be legitimate, planted or entirely a work of fiction. However, most people will accept it, the press will be mollified, right-wingers will say "I told you so," and the president will get off the hook. That's just how it works.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:39 AM on June 26, 2003


Ahem.. a short reminder to the imbeciles here...

I guess it would be hard to find TWELVE YEAR OLD pieces of crap buried under a rose garden.

WHERE ARE THE

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets."
Colin Powell
Remarks to UN Security Council
February 5, 2003

THAT

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Donald Rumsfeld
ABC Interview
March 30, 2003

AND

"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming.We're just getting it just now."
Colin Powell
Remarks to Reporters
May 4, 2003

Spare us further lies. The record of history is plain. The words are there. Don't think the American people are ignorant enough to accept this... pathetic show - that reinforces the Iraqi claim of no weapons - as some sort of affirmation of the governments position.
posted by Perigee at 6:48 AM on June 26, 2003


What homonculus said.

I don't know why you'd have a centrifuge buried for 12 very coincidental years if you had a perfectly innocent use for it. But this story does suggest that containment did work, supposing all you expected was for it to contain the regime, and not stop crime and save babies.
posted by furiousthought at 7:12 AM on June 26, 2003


Fear, uncertainty, doubt.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:29 AM on June 26, 2003


Here's one simple, possible reason - since most of the tools were being claimed by Saddam for government use (because they couldn't import anything, including vaccines, thanks to a 12-year embargo), this scientist thought keeping a gas centrifuge would save him some bucks later on.

The point of the whole "WMD" claim was not that they had the possible capability of producing weapons - it was that they actually had large stockpiles of weapons ready to "fire in 45 minutes!" We showed the U.N. bunker locations, movements, and so on of these weapons, claimed that the U.N. was being hoodwinked, and then decided to blow the hell out of the country, confident that we could find them.

If this is the best we can do, a 12-year old piece of machinery buried under a rose garden, probably to keep it out of Saddam's hands, then we're screwed.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:36 AM on June 26, 2003


Do you think there are any more of those WMD parts around? I need to do some work on my El Camino to get it back on the road and they would come in handy...
posted by QuestionableSwami at 7:43 AM on June 26, 2003


I don't want to see some 12 year old parts or some documents. If you want me to believe that Americans weren't duped, show me thousands of liters of anthrax, show me chemical weapons that have been distributed to the field commanders, show me something that can destroy an american city with less than 30 minutes notice.

I know that a lot of people disagree with me, but so far it seems that all that's been accomplished successfully is the birth of a new global hate for America. We don't have Bin Laden. We don't have Saddam. We haven't helped end anti-american feelings.

I really don't even understand what I'm supposed to celebrate when I celebrate the "Victory in Iraq". Maybe I'm just too cynical, but I don't see what was won.
posted by mosch at 8:07 AM on June 26, 2003


From the CNN article: "In a sense, the program was in hibernation. [Obeidi] was the key to the restart of this centrifuge program, and he never got the order. So in that sense it doesn't show at all that Iraq had a nuclear program. And Obeidi told me that he never worked on a nuclear program after 1991." - David Albright, U.N. nuclear weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

From the canada.com article: "Obeidi turned over a stack of documents that includes detailed designs for centrifuges, intelligence officials said. He told intelligence officials the parts from his garden were among the more difficult-to-produce components of a centrifuge. Assembled, the components would not be useful in making much uranium. Hundreds of centrifuges are necessary to make enough to construct a nuclear weapon in such programs. In Vienna, Gwozdecky, the [IAEA] spokesman, said the IAEA had 'regularly' reported that Iraq had 'successfully tested a single centrifuge prior to 1991.'"
posted by Dean King at 8:11 AM on June 26, 2003


I really don't even understand what I'm supposed to celebrate when I celebrate the "Victory in Iraq".

There has been no 'Victory in Iraq' - No Saddam, no weapons, no friendly welcome, no promised interim Govt, no home leave for troops, no agreements... What kind of victory is it where (if events carry on as they are) we'll soon reach the point where more 'coalition' troops have been killed since, than during the victorious war.
posted by niceness at 10:04 AM on June 26, 2003


All you hippies probably have degrees in history..........

.......REVISIONIST HISTORY!!
posted by Hildago at 2:38 PM on June 26, 2003


well, I don't really think you can say we didn't win the 'war', niceness. But whatever.

Anyway, the "WMD" that have turned up have been pretty pathetic so far. We've got what?

+Some trucks that could, maybe, be used to make biological weapons, if they were used with other trucks that did most of the important work. Trucks that are totaly clean as far as bio or chem remains.

+A peice of an engine for the one centerfuge we knew they had before gulf-war 1, burried for 12 years. Only one of hundreds needed to purify uranium.
posted by delmoi at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2003


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