What the hell is this?
Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons are disappearing from Iraq but neither Baghdad nor Washington appears to have noticed, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported on Monday.Satellite imagery shows that entire buildings in Iraq have been dismantled. They once housed high-precision equipment that could help a government or terror group make nuclear bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.Equipment and materials helpful in making bombs also have been removed from open storage areas in Iraq and disappeared without a trace, according to the satellite pictures, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said.THERE'S MORE: This guns-for-money program seems like a most excellent turn of events. But with the prices the U.S. military is paying Al-Sadr's gang -- $250 for a mortar, $170 for a grenade launcher and, for a bullet, 25 cents," according to the New York Times, I can't help but wonder: is this a surrender by the Sadrists, or a fundraiser?AND MORE: "The cash-for-guns initiative is a good idea," Phil Carter says. "If we can at least get rid of some heavy weapons and explosives, it's always worth it, even if they keep the light stuff."AND MORE: Blame President Bush for the missing gear, says Matt Yglesias.
Before the war, Iraq's nuclear program was years away from bearing a usable weapon and, thanks to the sanctions regime, getting further away. Then, thanks to diplomacy and threats of force, IAEA inspectors returned to the country. These inspectors informed the U.S. government that its pre-war assessments of Iraq's nuclear program were off-base and that the threat was nowhere near as imminent as the administration had maintained. Nevertheless, the United States invaded, thus precipitating the evacuation of IAEA inspectors who'd been safeguarding the most advanced elements of the Iraqi nuclear program. After the war, the administration failed to provide enough manpower to secure the sites and, displaying its typical disdain for international institutions, wouldn't let the inspectors come back.As a result, instead of being under lock-and-key, bits and pieces of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program are now off God knows where.