Bill Gertz writes in today’s Washington Times that Russian soldiers were responsible for helping Saddam’s forces move weapons out of Iraq prior to the U.S. military action. In addition, the Russians were to destroy evidence tying the Russians to Saddam’s government.
A second defense official said documents on the Russian support to Iraq reveal that Saddam’s government paid the Kremlin for the special forces to provide security for Iraq’s Russian arms and to conduct counterintelligence activities designed to prevent U.S. and Western intelligence services from learning about the arms pipeline through Syria.
The Russian arms-removal program was initiated after Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said.
A small portion of Iraq’s 650,000 tons to 1 million tons of conventional arms that were found after the war were looted after the U.S.-led invasion, Mr. Shaw said. Russia was Iraq’s largest foreign supplier of weaponry, he said.
However, the most important and useful arms and explosives appear to have been separated and moved out as part of carefully designed program. “The organized effort was done in advance of the conflict,” Mr. Shaw said.
The Russian forces were tasked with moving special arms out of the country.
Also, ABC News is reporting that Iraqi officials may have over reported the amount of missing explosives.
The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.
But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.
The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing – presumably stolen due to a lack of security – was based on “declaration” from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.
But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency’s inspectors recorded that just over three tons of RDX were stored at the facility – a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.