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Grimis
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#1 Posted on 1.12.03 0840.26
Reposted on: 1.12.10 0840.32
Can we finally stop with the "Saddam didn't want WMDs" line of thinking?

* * * * * * *

For the Iraqis, a Missile Deal That Went Sour
By DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 — It was Saddam Hussein's last weapons deal — and it did not go exactly as he and his generals had imagined.

For two years before the American invasion of Iraq, Mr. Hussein's sons, generals and front companies were engaged in lengthy negotiations with North Korea, according to computer files discovered by international inspectors and the accounts of Bush administration officials.

The officials now say they believe that those negotiations — mostly conducted in neighboring Syria, apparently with the knowledge of the Syrian government — were not merely to buy a few North Korean missiles.

Instead, the goal was to obtain a full production line to manufacture, under an Iraqi flag, the North Korean missile system, which would be capable of hitting American allies and bases around the region, according to the Bush administration officials.

As war with the United States approached, though, the Iraqi files show that Mr. Hussein discovered what American officials say they have known for nearly a decade now: that Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, is less than a fully reliable negotiating partner.

In return for a $10 million down payment, Mr. Hussein appears to have gotten nothing.

The trail that investigators have uncovered, partly from reading computer hard drives found in Baghdad and partly from interviews with captured members of Mr. Hussein's inner circle, shows that a month before the American invasion, Iraqi officials traveled to Syria to demand that North Korea refund $1.9 million because it had failed to meet deadlines for delivering its first shipment of goods.

North Korea deflected the request, telling Mr. Hussein's representatives, in the words of one investigator, that "things were too hot" to begin delivering missile technology through Syria.

The transaction provides an interesting glimpse into the last days of the Hussein government, and what administration officials say were Iraq's desires for a long-term business deal for missiles and a missile production plant.

Bush administration officials have seized on the attempted purchase of the missiles, known as the Rodong, and a missile assembly line to buttress their case that Mr. Hussein was violating United Nations resolutions, which clearly prohibited missiles of the range of the Rodong.

It also establishes that Syria was a major arms-trading bazaar for the Hussein government, in this case hiding an Iraqi effort to obtain missiles, they say. Investigators say Syria had probably offered its ports and territory as the surreptitious transit route for the North Korea-Iraq missile deal, although it remains unclear what demands the government in Damascus might have made in return. Further, according to United States government officials and international investigators, the Iraqi official who brokered the deal, Munir Awad, is now in Syria, apparently living under government protection.

If it served as a middleman in this deal, as the documents suggest, Syria was acting in violation of Security Council resolutions even as it served on the Council and voted with the United States on the most important resolution before the war.

In an interview in Damascus on Sunday with The New York Times, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, was asked about the deal described in the Iraqi computer files and said, "This is the first time I have heard this story."

He said Mr. Hussein "was never able to trust Syria, and he never tried and we never tried to make any relation between him and any other country because he did not trust us in the first place." For all its complaints about arms smuggling across the Syrian-Iraq border, Mr. Assad said, the United States had never cited specific cases, adding, "I told the Americans if you have any evidence that there is smuggling of weapons into Iraq, please let us know."

International inspectors note that the missile deal gone bad appears to be the most serious violation that has been found so far.

The investigators say they tripped upon it while looking for something far more nefarious — evidence of a continuing nuclear program, or an active effort to accumulate more biological or chemical weapons.

"So far, there's really not much in that arena," said one official who has monitored the continuing search for weapons led by David Kay, a former weapons inspector who is now conducting the search for the Central Intelligence Agency.

After spending tens of millions of dollars in a search that continues on the ground in Iraq to this day, the official noted, "We've learned this much: that Kim Jong Il took Saddam to the cleaners."

The first clue of the North Korea-Iraq deal surfaced in public in October when Dr. Kay released preliminary findings of his inquiry into Mr. Hussein's program for developing unconventional weapons.

Dr. Kay said his team had uncovered evidence that Iraq had negotiated a deal with North Korea to acquire missiles, a transaction that a senior administration official said was apparently never detected by American intelligence agencies.

But when it came time for the North Koreans to deliver on the deal they demurred, according to an Iraqi account of the meeting in Syria that international inspectors found on an Iraqi computer hard drive. According to the files, the North Koreans said Iraq was under too much American scrutiny. Evidence amassed since the invasion of Iraq indicates the deal was for more than just missiles.

"This $10 million was a down payment, and not just a straight purchase for Rodong missiles, but for Rodong technology," said one American official who has read documentation on the deal. "Saddam's intent was to get the expertise from the North Koreans and, potentially, open his own production line." If the American interpretation is right, it is unclear where Mr. Hussein might have built the production line or how it could have avoided detection by American satellites.

The exact outlines of the deal remain unclear, the official said, "since the North Koreans ended up stiffing the Iraqis." The Iraqis were demanding their money back, "right up to the end," the official said.

American investigators say they have been able to discern outlines of the murky deal. The $10 million was too much to buy simply a missile or two, American and international experts say, and too little for an entire production line, leading to the conclusion that it was a down payment.

Investigators said information downloaded from Iraqi computer hard drives, at least one of which was obtained before the invasion of Iraq, allowed them to more specifically interrogate detained members of Mr. Hussein's inner circle. They, in turn, guided investigators deeper into the mountain of official documents seized during the war.

"You do that, sort of a back-and-forth process," said one American official. "You find something on a computer disk or in the pile of documents slowly being translated. That makes you ask questions of the detainees. Then you bounce back to the documents and so forth. That's how you get the bigger picture."

Administration officials say investigators found evidence of meetings between the Iraqis and North Koreans as least as far back as late 2001.

One administration official said American intelligence had evidence that "the agents from North Korea flew into Syria — that's where the first meeting took place." Other officials said at least one round of talks was held in North Korea.

The final session was held in Syria in February of this year, just before the war began, officials said. On that trip, according to the Iraqi account of the meeting in Syria, the Iraqis were also seeking night-vision goggles, ammunition and gun barrels — mostly through European middlemen. At that point, a huge American-British force had been built up on Iraq's southern borders, and it was clear that war was coming.

What is also interesting about the shopping list, however, is "what's not on it," said one investigator. "Nothing nuclear, no dual-use items, nothing about weapons of mass destruction."

American officials said the failed missile deal was brokered by an Iraqi firm called Al Bashair Trading Company, also spelled Al Bashir in some documents, which has been identified by American investigators as having had past involvement in arms trade for Iraq conducted with Yugoslavia.

The company reported directly to the Iraqi military command, investigators said, and had close ties to one of Mr. Hussein's sons, Qusay, who was killed in a battle with American troops in July.

The negotiations with the North Koreans were conducted by Munir Awad, the senior officer of Al Bashair, American and international investigators said.

"Munir Awad is one of three men who personally oversaw the most sensitive transfers of money from Al Bashair to other front companies and governments and worked directly for Qusay Hussein," said one American official. "Awad is believed to be in Syria under the protection of the Syrian government."
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eviljonhunt81
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#2 Posted on 1.12.03 0910.08
Reposted on: 1.12.10 0910.29
    Originally posted by Grimis
    Can we finally stop with the "Saddam didn't want WMDs" line of thinking?




Who said this?
A-MOL
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#3 Posted on 1.12.03 0913.53
Reposted on: 1.12.10 0914.09
So, just to check. The war was now fought not because Iraq HAD weapons of mass destruction, but because he wanted them.

Grimis, no-ones doubting the "Saddam was a bad man" stuff. The dispute is to whether he was an immediate danger to the West as was claimed by US and UK officials, whose evidence now seems suspect.
DrDirt
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#4 Posted on 1.12.03 1015.06
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1015.14
Grimis, I echo the previous two posts. No sane person disputed th fact that he wanted to be able to create widespread devistation through WMDs. All many of us wanted was proof. The UN didn't find any because it now appears he got rid of them. If you are going to use this as the centerpiece for a war and occupation that will last a long time, proof would be nice. As I have said before, why not just have said he's a bad man, a cruel dictator, a threat to stability, he tried to kill my dad, so lets get rid of him.

I questioned the wisdom of what we did. Not because I didn't think we would win the war, but from the difficulites of occupation and brining freedom to a country with no history of it. Not because I didn't want Sadam out. I'm glad he's gone. I wish people on the right of this issue would listen to what people klike myself are saying. Our legitimate concerns are turned into antipatrioic sentiment by those who wish to blindly pursue this course.

Now my hope is we can get Iraq and Afghanistan up and running with rudimentary democracies and know when to get the hell out. We are committed now and better do the job right and be willing to stay until it is done.

(edited by DrDirt on 1.12.03 1016)
Grimis
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#5 Posted on 1.12.03 1021.18
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1021.20
I have always said and have always maintained that going to war in the manner that we did was not a wise choice, and that the important part if we went was winning the peace. We are starting to turn the corner on winning the peace(hopefully).

However, therer are some people who seem to believe that post-1991 Hussein was not interested in a WMD program, and that is hogwash. The fact of the matter is that Hussein was always interested in acquiring nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and the fact that he was trying to do this in the face of the impending invasion further justifies the invasion for the purpose of protecting western nations from a clear and present danger. The fact of the matter is that Hussein was in secret negotiations with the PDRK to get WMD's and WMD Delivery systems and could have instantaneously become a nuclear power.

Frankly, if US intelligence knew this information before the start of the war that does, in fact, provide enough credibility of reasoning for the WMD invasion argument even if I did not necessarily support it when it started.
drjayphd
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#6 Posted on 1.12.03 1214.35
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1214.42
Not to pile on, but...

However, therer are some people who seem to believe that post-1991 Hussein was not interested in a WMD program, and that is hogwash.

And there's a whole lot of people who seem to believe Hussein was responsible for 9.11, but you don't see anyone getting beaten over the head with that, now, do ya?

Other than that, what's been said before--the justification was he had them, not that he wanted them. No one who's ever had a rational thought doubted that Saddam wanted to get them... it was just a question of is he a threat right now, and he wasn't.

The fact of the matter is that Hussein was always interested in acquiring nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and the fact that he was trying to do this in the face of the impending invasion further justifies the invasion for the purpose of protecting western nations from a clear and present danger.

Okay, if someone's coming after you with a baseball bat, you can see them coming, and you KNOW they aren't going to stop... aren't you going to try and defend yourself? Sure, the best he could hope for was a North Korea-style kowtowing, but I SORELY doubt he was just going to stop looking for them, fess up, and hand himself over just because we were coming.
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#7 Posted on 1.12.03 1419.20
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1420.05
"Can we finally stop with the "Saddam didn't want WMDs" line of thinking?"

It's only a crime if he actually does it.

But I guess American justice doesn't apply outside our borders. Even if we feel the need to administrate it.
Pool-Boy
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#8 Posted on 1.12.03 1520.38
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1521.07
Isn't it a crime to try to buy drugs? To try and solicit a hooker? To try and rob a bank? Attempted murder is a crime, is it not? If you put money down for a hitman who does not make the kill, you are still charged, aren't you?

Seems to me the attempt to acquire WMDs fits very well under the American system of justice...
ThreepMe
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#9 Posted on 1.12.03 1557.43
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1558.13
    Originally posted by Pool-Boy
    Isn't it a crime to try to buy drugs? To try and solicit a hooker? To try and rob a bank? Attempted murder is a crime, is it not? If you put money down for a hitman who does not make the kill, you are still charged, aren't you?

    Seems to me the attempt to acquire WMDs fits very well under the American system of justice...


Yes, those things do fall into our system of justice. Usually with a sentence that is lesser than actually DOING the actual event associated with it.

By that rationale, don't you think all out WAR was a bit much for "attempted WMD purchasing?"
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#10 Posted on 1.12.03 1706.19
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1706.40

    Isn't it a crime to try to buy drugs? To try and solicit a hooker? To try and rob a bank? Attempted murder is a crime, is it not? If you put money down for a hitman who does not make the kill, you are still charged, aren't you?

    Seems to me the attempt to acquire WMDs fits very well under the American system of justice...


Sideshow Bob: Oh really, attempted murder. What is that? They don't Nobel Prizes for attempted chemistry, do they??
eviljonhunt81
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#11 Posted on 1.12.03 1747.40
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1748.35
    Originally posted by Grimis
    therer are some people who seem to believe that post-1991 Hussein was not interested in a WMD program, and that is hogwash.


Again, who has said this?
Grimis
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#12 Posted on 1.12.03 1853.16
Reposted on: 1.12.10 1854.03
    Originally posted by eviljonhunt81
    Again, who has said this?
Seemingly everybody has casually mentioned that Hussein had no WMDs and was not actively pursuing them.

Methinks that qualifies as "active pursuit"
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#13 Posted on 1.12.03 2038.56
Reposted on: 1.12.10 2039.28
    Originally posted by ThreepMe
    Yes, those things do fall into our system of justice. Usually with a sentence that is lesser than actually DOING the actual event associated with it.

    By that rationale, don't you think all out WAR was a bit much for "attempted WMD purchasing?"



Well, to start with, the WMDs were never my primary reason for supporting the war, so yes on that count.

Secondly, YES! When it comes down to it, it was a blatant treaty violation, the treaty that Iraq signed to prevent us from marching right into Baghdad last time. Is it too much to expect that regimes who sign treaties to save their butts should not be expected to keep their promises?

If we let them slide there because "time had passed," what is to stop any nation from promising the moon to end a losing war, because if enough time passes, no one will care?

If you take the "American Judicial System" analogy even further, Iraq is more like a case of an offender on parole. I guarantee if a murderer was let out on parole, and paid a downpayment on a hit, it would be treated much more severely than an "attempted murder." This case clearly demonstrates that Hussein had no intention of adhering to the treaty that saved his butt in 1991.

I, for one, can't understand why some people will stop at nothing to defend this guy's regime.

(edited by Pool-Boy on 1.12.03 1840)
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#14 Posted on 1.12.03 2040.33
Reposted on: 1.12.10 2040.47
    Originally posted by Pool-Boy
    Isn't it a crime to try to buy drugs? To try and solicit a hooker? To try and rob a bank? Attempted murder is a crime, is it not? If you put money down for a hitman who does not make the kill, you are still charged, aren't you?

    Seems to me the attempt to acquire WMDs fits very well under the American system of justice...


(digs out his atlas)

Yup, Syria's still not part of the US. Just checking.

    Originally posted by Grimis
      Originally posted by eviljonhunt81
      Again, who has said this?
    Seemingly everybody has casually mentioned that Hussein had no WMDs and was not actively pursuing them.

    Methinks that qualifies as "active pursuit"


Okay, I didn't go through every transcript of everything anyone said in favor of going to war, but I only remember people saying he had them and was actively pursuing using them. Where'd anyone have evidence that we must invade Iraq rightNOW because he was looking for them?
CRZ
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#15 Posted on 1.12.03 2201.21
Reposted on: 1.12.10 2201.27
    Originally posted by Pool-Boy
    I, for one, can't understand why some people will stop at nothing to defend this guy's regime.
Okay, you're teetering now - should probably back off just a hair.
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#16 Posted on 2.12.03 0323.31
Reposted on: 2.12.10 0323.39
Retracted. Just an expression of frustration... nothing else.
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