August 24, 2003

Russia Helped Iraq with WMD's

Ion Pacepa, former deputy chief of Romanian foreign intelligence, is the highest- ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Soviet Bloc, coming to the U.S. in 1978. In a Washington Times article Pacepa charges that former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov ran Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, and was in Iraq with two other Russian generals for the three months just before the start of the coalition invasion, overseeing the liquidation of those chemical and biological weapons programs. Pacepa was familiar with the Russian program for getting rid of WMD's:

The Soviet Union and all its bloc states always had a standard operating procedure for deep sixing weapons of mass destruction — in Romanian it was codenamed "Sarindar, meaning "emergency exit. "I implemented it in Libya. It was for ridding Third World despots of all trace of their chemical weapons if the Western imperialists ever got near them. We wanted to make sure they would never be traced back to us, and we also wanted to frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with.
All chemical weapons were to be immediately burned or buried deep at sea. Technological documentation, however, would be preserved in microfiche buried in waterproof containers for future.

Syndicated columnist Jay Bryant calls this "the most important news about Iraq since the fall of Saddam's government", and calls on the press do their jobs:

They should smoke out Primakov – and his two cronies, too, perhaps even more so – and ask them to explain what they were doing on the banks of the Tigris in the winter of '03. Whatever lie they tell in answering, reporters should follow up on, disprove and write another week's worth of stories.

Putin, too should be made to feel the heat of this investigation. Primakov, Achalov and Matlsev may have been there on their own, without Putin's imprimatur, but I doubt it, and anyway, Putin should be put on the record with that claim, if he chooses to make it.

Here's more from Pacepa:

The Soviet bloc not only sold Saddam its WMDs, but it showed them how to make them "disappear." Russia is still at it. Primakov was in Baghdad from December until a couple of days before the war, along with a team of Russian military experts led by two of Russia's topnotch "retired"generals,Vladislav Achalov, a former deputy defense minister, and Igor Maltsev, a former air defense chief of staff. They were all there receiving honorary medals from the Iraqi defense minister. They clearly were not there to give Saddam military advice for the upcomingwar—Saddam's Katyusha launchers were of World War II vintage, and his T-72 tanks, BMP-1 fighting vehicles and MiG fighter planes were all obviously useless against America. "I did not fly to Baghdad to drink coffee," was what Gen. Achalov told the media afterward. They were there orchestrating Iraq's "Sarindar" plan.

The U.S. military in fact, has already found the only thing that would have been allowed to survive under the classic Soviet "Sarindar" plan to liquidate weapons arsenals in the event of defeat in war — the technological documents showing how to reproduce weapons stocks in just a few weeks.

Let's hope this story gets some legs.

Posted by dan at August 24, 2003 3:00 PM