Sarin Shell: Arsenal or Artifact?

Joe Carter sent me a link last night to a CSM column by Scott Ritter, in which he argued that, in all likelihood, the sarin shell detonated in Iraq last week was not part of a stockpile but rather a dud that had been fired at some time in the past and squirreled away for some reason. While Ritter’s conclusions struck me as strained, my knowledge of the mechanics of cannon artillery is cursory and largely faded. Don Sensing has a rather convincing rebuttal this afternoon, however, which effectively refutes most of Ritter’s technical arguments. Whether there is some large stockpile of chemical munitions where that one came from is a matter still to be seen, of course.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. RicK DeMent says:

    The interesting thing about the Ritter article is that everything he said about the markings and the type of shell can be verified though analysis and that analysis has either not be done or is being keep under wraps. This is a question that should be fairly easy to answer and the speculation is kind of pointless. Why are we not leaning on the government to answer the question?

    The rebuttal focuses way too much on the dude rate, Ritter is only speculating here as is the rebutter, what is in short supply is accurate information.

  2. Ken says:

    After more than a year of fighting in Iraq it seems reasonable to conclude that if WMD have not yet been found by either coalition forces or by the insurgents that they probably do not exist in any great amount. A few forgotten shells may turn up now and again but it seems pretty clear that Iraq is free of any large stockpiles of WMD. Whatever is left is by now largely ineffective anyway due to the expired shelf life of the chemical agents involved.

  3. Marc says:

    So how much stock do you care to place on anything Ritter has to say. If he has received any of the Oil for Food money as alleged his word is worthless.