May - June 2004

P.O. Box 190, Mount Holly, Virginia 2252
Volume 34, Number 3, Jerry Strope, Editor

"People who had the WMD and all of that either kept it, sold it, hid it, so on, etc. Saddam, I think, still thinks today that he had [WMD.]

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), July 1, 2004

In this Issue

Where Are The WMDs?

The US Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that a worldwide intelligence failure led to the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Pat Roberts, chairman of the Committee. "What you had was a great intelligence assumption train," he said. "Everybody assumed that Saddam Hussein would reconstitute his program. There was a lot of empirical evidence in regards to ties to terrorism, and so the assumption train just added on more cars. It wasn't backed up by the necessary backup to make those kinds of conclusions."

"These conclusions literally beg for changes within the intelligence community. What we had was a worldwide intelligence failure," said Senator Roberts. And he suggested in our ‘quotable quote’ that even Saddam believed (and believes) he had WMDs.

In May of this year, former UN chief weapons inspector David Kay suggested that no stockpiles of WMDs would be found in Iraq. Senator Roberts paraphrased what he said was Kay’s conclusion: "That country had become a very chaotic state and was about to be Grand Central Station for the real proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—you know, willing buyer, willing seller."

Sounds like a scary situation, doesn’t it? And not a convincing conclusion that there never were any Iraqi WMDs. Contrary assertions are floating around the internet. Rod D. Martin, Chairman of Vanguard PAC, points out that a few months ago Jordanian intelligence officials broke up an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a large chemical device in downtown Amman, the Jordanian capital. It was reported that over twenty tons of chemical weapons were seized from the conspirators. That’s a lot of truckloads. Unless the amount has been vastly exaggerated, where did it all come from?

Martin also claims that Demetrius Perricos, alleged executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), has recently briefed the UN Security Council on "Saddam’s lightning-fast dismantling of missile and WMD sites before and during the war." Nothing concerning this alleged briefing surfaced in the mainstream press.

Meanwhile, Senator Roberts has said that his committee will make its conclusions public in July but he didn’t know how much supporting information will be included because for weeks the committee and the CIA have disagreed about how much of the material in the report must remain classified.

No Progress on North Korean Nukes

The six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear program ended on June 26 with precious little to show for all the effort that went into preparing for the talks. Low-level "working groups" have been doing the spade work for some months now.

At one such six-party working group session in early May, the subject of nuclear power reactors was brought up by the North Koreans, according to US representatives at the working group session. First, a little history—Ten years ago, in return for North Korea’s pledge to abandon its nuclear program, the US, Japan and South Korea agreed to provide North Korea with two light-water reactors as part of the 1994 Agreed Framework. Concrete was poured for the foundation of the first reactor in August 2002. Construction was halted when North Korea was found to be cheating on the agreement in October 2002. North Korea expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in December 2002 and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in January 2003. Things haven’t changed much since then.

The working session discussion was between Joseph DiTrani, the top US representative, and his North Korean counterpart, Ri Gun, who asked, "If we address the enriched uranium program, what would that mean for the light-water reactor program?" Mr. DiTrani responded that completion of the light-water reactor could be one element of a US policy response if North Korea abandoned its nuclear arms program.

This ignited some heated debate within the Bush administration and charges that DiTrani had gone beyond his instructions. But the official US position appeared to be unchanged. The US is insisting that before any concessions are made to North Korea, Pyongyang must completely dismantle all its nuclear arms programs and provide ways to verify that the programs have been dismantled, such as IAEA inspections. North Korea, on the other hand, offers to "freeze" its program without verification once the goodies start flowing.

At the six-nation talks just completed in Beijing, the US presented a phased proposal for achieving the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Gone was the hardline demand for "complete, verifiable and irreversible" dismantling of North Korean nuclear programs but the same goal was evident in the proposal. According to the Washington Post News Service, one senior US official described the proposal as a "re-packaging and elaboration of things we have said before" and said that it was likely to be rejected by the North Koreans.

Under the proposal, South Korea and possibly other countries would begin providing heavy fuel oil to the North’s staggering economy immediately if Kim Jong Il promised to dismantle the country’s plutonium and uranium arms programs. This immediate help is a change proposed first by South Korea. Once North Korea began to display and secure its nuclear materials and weapons, the US and the four other nations would issue provisional assurances saying they had no intention of invading or attacking North Korea. The US also would engage in a study of North Korea’s non-nuclear energy needs, and discuss lifting economic sanctions and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But North Korea would be given only three months to halt and disclose all of its nuclear activities and to begin securing and destroying nuclear materials under supervision of international monitors. Otherwise the preliminary benefits would cease.

The North Korean response the next day was to stick to their offer of an unverifiable freeze of their program in return for economic aid and threaten to test a nuclear weapon unless Washington accepted the offer. The threat to test a weapon was made during a private talk between Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan and Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly.

This was not the first time that North Korea has threatened to test one of their nuclear weapons. A similar threat was made more than a year ago. Why the North Koreans regard this warning as a threat is more than a bit peculiar. A weapon test is a time-honored means of proving that a nation has weapons. We do believe that North Korea has refined enough fissile material to make several nuclear weapons but there is no evidence that they have successfully done so.

The six-nation talks in Beijing ended with a perfunctory communique and an agreement to meet again in September. But the last word occurred in Jakarta, Indonesia, several days later where the foreign ministers of the Pacific-rim countries met for their annual summit. Secretary of State Colin Powell had an unscheduled meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun to discuss the impasse. It was the highest-level meeting between the two countries in over two years. Afterwards, Powell told reporters North Korea would be wasting its time if it holds out for economic benefits from the US before showing serious intent to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Iran Defies the Europeans

John R. Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, warned on June 24 that Iran could face a tough time against the US and its allies if it persists with its program of nuclear defiance, according to Sharon Behn of the Washington Times. Testifying before a House committee, Mr. Bolton said Iran told three European nations on June 24 that it will resume making uranium centrifuge parts, breaking an agreement it had struck with Britain, France and Germany in February.

Mr. Bolton said the US had never believed that Iran had ceased making the parts and the IAEA board of governors a week earlier had said it was troubled that Tehran had continued to do so. Tehran’s announcement came after the IAEA approved a European-drafted resolution rebuking Iran for past cover-ups in its nuclear program.

"They have not, at least at this point, said that they would resume actual enrichment activities but it seems to me it is perfectly obvious that Iran is not producing components for uranium centrifuges to use them as knickknacks in Iranian living rooms," Mr. Bolton told the House committee. "This is an act of defiance of the IAEA board of governors. It is a thumb in the eye of the international community," he added.

Washington believes Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says it wants nuclear power for electricity. The US is pressing for the IAEA to refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Iran as it did Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute luncheon, Mr. Bolton said Iran, as well as North Korea, would have to realize that US action in Iraq, which under Saddam Hussein refused to comply with UN resolutions on its suspected WMDs, has rewritten the rules and consequences of proliferation. The US-led intervention in Iraq, according to Mr. Bolton, has created "real world leverage that even Europeans privately acknowledge is useful" and would put teeth into any future UN resolutions.

"Never has the Security Council been so feared," he said.

And a Word for Strategic Defense

The initial missile defense capability called for by President Bush is scheduled to become operational this October. When that happens, the main threat from the North Korean end of the "axis of evil" will have been blunted. An interceptor from a US Navy Aegis cruiser knocked down a dummy warhead over the Pacific on December 11, 2003. It was the fourth intercept in five tests of the sea-based leg of a planned multi-layered missile defense. The last test on June 18 failed. Northrup and Raytheon have won an eight-year contract to design and build a rocket that can intercept an enemy missile less than five minutes after launch, adding another layer to the multi-layer system.