Socialist Worker

A dossier of lies

Issue No. 1819

TONY BLAIR'S dossier to justify war against Iraq is a rehash of well worn lies, baseless speculation and exaggerated claims. It has taken his government a year to come up with this document. Nothing in it adds one ounce to the weight of the warmongers' case.

Unlike the US, Socialist Worker has argued for more than two decades that Saddam Hussein is brutal. That does not justify a vicious war. Here we expose the lies being used in the drive towards slaughter.

LIE 1: Saddam Hussein has 'weapons of mass destruction'
FACTS: Even Blair is forced to admit that in fact Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) has inspected Iraq. It has looked for the enriched uranium needed to produce nuclear weapons. On 28 June this year the IAEA insisted that Iraq did not have the capacity to produce enriched uranium.

Iraq does have some useless low-grade uranium. This cannot be used for nuclear weapons without specialised, expensive and very obvious industrial-scale facilities.

Britain and the US have produced no evidence that such facilities exist in Iraq. Blair claims that Iraq 'could' produce or obtain this material with outside help. So could any other state in the world.

Blair says Iraq has imported steel and aluminium tubes that could be used in centrifuges to produce enriched uranium. The Washington Post noted on 10 September this year that the tubes are in fact used in making conventional artillery, which Iraq is not prohibited from doing even under the sanctions regime.

LIE 2: Iraq has large stocks of chemical and biological weapons
FACTS: Iraq did have some such material in the 1980s - mainly the biological weapon anthrax, and the nerve agents sarin and VX, as well as mustard gas. United Nations inspectors destroyed most of these in the 1990s. Blair says some stocks were 'unaccounted' for.

Most chemical and biological agents have a limited shelf life and become useless after a few years. Anthrax, for example, becomes useless even under ideal storage conditions after three years at most.

Iraq has never had the highly advanced technology needed to produce more than laboratory quantities of VX.

LIE 3: Iraq has rebuilt facilities to produce nuclear or biological weapons
FACTS: The 'evidence' for this comes mainly from Iraqi scientists who have defected to Europe or the US, and have been offered financial rewards by the US as well as guarantees of asylum. Even the US State Department has in the past warned that such sources should not be taken seriously.

Among the British and US allegations are that a site at Taji in Iraq has been rebuilt to produce chemical and biological weapons. Journalists from the respected Reuters news agency visited the site in mid-August this year. They found nothing resembling the advanced industrial and scientific facilities needed to produce weapons.

Instead they discovered only 'boxes of powdered milk from Yemen, Vietnam, Tunisia and Indonesia, and sacks of sugar from Egypt and India'.

LIE 4: Iraq has missiles that could hit its neighbours and British forces
FACTS: By 1997 817 of Iraq's 819 ballistic missiles had been destroyed, according to the UN weapons inspectors. Charles Duelfer is the former US deputy assistant secretary of state and deputy head of the Unscom weapons inspectorate, and a leading advocate of war against Iraq.

Even he says Iraq could have at most 12 to 14 missiles today if it has salvaged parts to rebuild some. These have a range of a few hundred miles at most. They were ineffective in the 1991 Gulf War when Iraq had far more missiles. They can not be used for biological weapons like anthrax, which are destroyed by the missile's impact.

Blair claims that Iraqi missiles could threaten British troops in Cyprus. Britain has no business being in Cyprus. It only has bases there to help protect the multinationals' oil profits. Blair says Iraq threatens British fighter jets. But that is only because they are flying over Iraq.

LIE 5: Iraq would use weapons of mass destruction if it had them
FACTS: Iraq did have some chemical and biological weapons at the time of the 1991 Gulf War. Even facing defeat, Saddam Hussein did not use them. The reason is simple. Iraq faces the US, Britain and Israel, which have overwhelming military power and definitely have real weapons of mass destuction.

For Iraq to even threaten to use any such weapons if it had them would bring a devastating response. George Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza Rice has admitted, 'If they do acquire weapons of mass destruction, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration.'

LIE 6: Iraq will use chemical weapons again because it used them before
FACTS: Iraq did use mustard gas and sarin in its war with Iran from 1981 to 1988. It did this with the compliance of the US. The US gave Saddam Hussein intelligence information and 'crop spraying' helicopters which helped in such attacks.

In 1986 a United Nations Security Council statement recognised that 'chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian forces'. The US voted against this in the UN Security Council. This was because Iraq was a US ally at the time.

Saddam Hussein went on to use chemical weapons against Kurdish people at Halabja and other places in Iraq in 1988. The US did not condemn Iraq, and stepped up its support for Saddam Hussein's regime.

Blair also claims that 'Saddam practices torture, execution and other forces of coercion against his enemies'. This is equally true of a host of other regimes across the world which are US and British allies - Saudi Arabia for one.

LIE 7: Saddam Hussein is linked to Al Qaida and the 11 September attacks
FACTS: There is not a shred of evidence for this. An earlier claim by some US papers that an Iraqi agent met with one of the 11 September attackers in Prague has been rubbished. Blair points to a group in Iraq called Ansar al Islam, which allegedly has had tenous links with Al Qaida.

He forgets to mention that this group operates in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan, which since 1991 has been controlled by the US-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and not the Iraqi government.


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Sat 28 Sep 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1819
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