26 October 2004

US failed to secure Iraq's Manhattan Project

The media is reporting that the Iraqi Al Qaqaa facility is unguarded and that hundreds of tons of high explosives have been removed.

To me, this is a minor story. Al Qaqaa was Iraq's nuclear weapons research lab, Iraq's version of the Manhattan Project. Leaving this facility unguarded was insane. Who knows what design documents, equipment, and specialized machine tools were looted and are now furthering some other nation's nuclear ambitions?

Here's the Boston Globe's take:

''This is not just any old warehouse in Iraq that happened to have explosives in it; this was a leading location for developing nuclear weapons before the first Gulf War,' said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project, a nonprofit organization that has followed Iraq's attempts to procure weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade. ''The fact that it had been left unsecured is very, very discouraging. It would be like invading the US in to order to get rid of [weapons of mass destruction] and not securing Los Alamos or [Lawrence] Livermore [National Laboratory].'

The article goes on to quote David Kay, the US weapons inspector who led the search for nuclear weapons following the invasion:

''The military did not view guarding these sites as their responsibility," Kay said, recalling that he witnessed US troops guarding the gates of the Tuwaitha nuclear facility while Iraq civilians carried away radioactive pipes and metal drums through other exits.

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