Suspected Chemical Weapons Plant Uncovered in Mosul
The Washington Post is reports that over 1500 gallons of “suspected” chemical weapon precursors have been found in a warehouse in Mosul, Iraq. The sub header states, Military Believes Insurgents Intended to Use Dangerous Agents Against U.S., Iraqi Forces.
U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in the northern city of Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical-weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians, military officials said Saturday.
Monday’s early morning raid found 11 precursor agents, “some of them quite dangerous by themselves,” a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, said in Baghdad.
Before anyone takes this as proof that Saddam’s regime had a hidden chemical weapons capabiliy, it is much too early to make that assessment. This is a post-Saddam facility.
Investigators still were trying to determine which group was responsible for the alleged lab and whether the expertise came from foreign fighters or members of Saddam Hussein’s former security apparatus, the military saidÃ¢€¦
The spokesman said the operation was new, not dating from before the U.S.-led invasion.
The big question is what was the source of these precursor chemicals? Were they in Iraq from before the invasion (possibly implying Saddam’s regime maintained chemical weapons capabilities), or were they imported from another country (and how did they get across the border, and who supplied the chemicals)? Additionally, some precursor chemicals have other routine industrial uses (but not all – see the list of precursors in the Chemical Weapons Convention (Schedules)). Without knowing what the chemicals are involved, one cannot make an accurate assessment as to the significance of the find as it relates to Saddam or to outside assistance to the “insurgency.”