The Instigator
JustCallMeTarzan
Pro (for)
Winning
13 Points
The Contender
BrianHull
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

At the Time of the 2003 Invasion, Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
JustCallMeTarzan
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/29/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,233 times Debate No: 6682
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

The proposition on offer is that contrary to a popular argument against the invasion of Iraq, at the time of the 2003 invasion under the Bush administration, Iraq was known to have (or have had previously) possession of weapons of mass destruction.

There are four types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD):

1) Nuclear (atom, hydrogen bombs)
2) Radiological (dirty bombs)
3) Chemical (Sarin, Ricin, etc...)
4) Biological (Disease-based)

Any of these four qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction.

*******************************************

In the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-1988, Iraq used chemical weapons, most notably in an incident in March, 1988 called the Halabja Poison Gas Attack (http://en.wikipedia.org...). This attack included the following agents:

- Mustard Gas (CWC regulated in 1993 - Schedule 1, Part B)
- Sarin (WMD per UN Resolution 687 - CWC regulated in 1993)
- Soman (WMD per UN Resolution 687 - CWC regulated in 1993
- Tabun (WMD per UN Resolution 687 - CWC regulated in 1993
- VX (WMD per UN Resolution 687 - CWC regulated in 1993)

Mustard gas is not categorically a WMD; however, the use of mustard gas as per Schedule 1, Part B of the CWC regulations classifies it as having only a use in chemical warfare. Stockpiles of mustard gas over 100g are required to be registered, and countries are prohibited from stockpiling more than 1 ton of the material.

The rest of the agents on this list are classified as weapons of mass destruction.

To head off a possible line of argument concerning the notion that the attacks in 1988 were not using WMD's because the agents had not been classified as such until 1993, the UN created the WMD classification in 1948, three years after the first atom bomb was dropped. This in no way indicates that the atom bomb was not a WMD at the time of its use. Likewise, the specific classification of an agent as a WMD after its use does not change the fact that the agent itself was a WMD.

************************************

The notion that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction is simply false. Iraq may not have had NUCLEAR weapons of mass destruction, but it is certain that at one point in time, Iraq did indeed have possession of WMDs.

There are claims that the Iraq Survey Group did not find any WMDs in its search.

However (http://en.wikipedia.org...):

"On May 2, 2004 a shell containing mustard gas, was found in the middle of street west of Baghdad. The Iraq Survey Group investigation reported that it had been previously "stored improperly", and thus the gas was "ineffective" as a useful chemical agent"

This is basically the same as finding an inoperative nuclear warhead. Simply because the WMD does not work does not indicate it is not a WMD or that the intention in possession was not to possess a WMD.

"On May 16, 2004 a 152 mm artillery shell was used as an improvised bomb. The shell exploded and two U.S. soldiers were treated for minor exposure to a nerve agent (nausea and dilated pupils). On May 18 it was reported by U.S. Department of Defense intelligence officials that tests showed the two-chambered shell contained the chemical agent sarin..."

Sarin, as stated above, is classified as a WMD.

"In June 2004, the United States removed 2 tons of low-enriched uranium from Iraq, sufficient raw material for a single nuclear weapon."

Iraq demonstrably had the technology at the time to produce a nuclear weapon within roughly a month's time if given fissile materials. This is akin to having all the parts to a WMD laying around, but not assembled. A gun is still a weapon if disassembled and laid on a table - it's just not ready to use.

*************************************

The conclusion of the ISG was basically thus:

At the time of our inspection, we didn't find any WMDs. However, this is not conclusive as to whether or not they exist.

I submit that the fact that Iraq was previously known to have massive stockpiles of chemical WMDs, plans to build a nuclear weapon, and various developmental labs and programs suggests that at the time of the 2003 invasion, there were existing WMD's and the materials to build them.

Consider that Saddam Hussein and members of his administration professed that they would keep whatever weapons they needed to defend their "Arab nation." Furthermore, none of them suggested that Hussein had given up his WMD programs.

The totality of this evidence suggests that there were more WMDs in Iraq during the 2003 invasion than the sarin, mustard gas, and uranium discovered in 2004. It is highly likely that Iraq had a supply (even if limited) of WMD's at the time of the invasion.

AFFIRMED.
BrianHull

Con

I am happy to debate you on this topic.

I agree to your classifications of WMDs: nuclear, radiological, chemical, and/or biological. Any one of these constitutes a WMD, although for my purposes I will group nuclear and radiological together, because essentially they're the same. I will even concede that Iraq had used chemical weapons during the 1980-1988 war with Iran. And we won't even discuss that the U.S. supplied Iraq with those chemical weapons to ensure Saddam's victory.

I take issue with the logic (and especially the broadness) presented in your challenge. It is invalid to debate whether or not "Iraq was known to have (or have had previously) possession of weapons of mass destruction." Previous possession of WMDs is irrelevant with regard to the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, and I will gladly and easily demonstrate that at the time of that invasion, Iraq did not possess WMDs.

After the Iran-Iraq war, in August of 1990, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army invaded Kuwait. During that short 6 month war, the U.N. authorized military action against Iraq and the U.S. supported Kuwait in its Operation Desert Shield / Storm (there were two individual and separate elements of America's support). During the military operation, the U.S. had used depleted uranium shells (munitions which could arguably be considered WMDs), however, the Department of Defense and the CIA have stated that Iraq did not use chemical or biological weapons during the First Gulf War. On May 25, 1994, Defense Secretary William J. Perry and General John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a letter to veterans of the Gulf War, stated, "There is no evidence, classified or unclassified, that indicates that chemical or biological weapons were used in the Persian Gulf."(1) Additionally, in an article dated January 5, 1995, David Brown at the Washington Post reported on the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine's finding that "there is no evidence that chemical or biological weapons were used in the Persian Gulf War, and that rumors they were should be put to rest."(2)

This begs the question, if Iraq had WMDs, why were they not used during the ground invasion of Iraq?

A more complicated issue is cutting through the rhetoric used leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It's been reported numerous times that George W. Bush wished to use the attacks of 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq and that he also selectively used reports and evidence to justify his invasion, cherry picking "evidence" to prove that Saddam possessed WMDs. All of that has been debunked, most concisely in a report written by Charles Duelfer of the Iraq Study Group released in October of 2004 (3).

The report reads, "Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program. Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to the 1991 war, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years." While Saddam Hussein wanted nuclear weapons, as do most dictators, a desire to possess does not equate to possession. Moreover, your claim that Iraq had the "technology at the time to produce a nuclear weapon" because of the removal of two tons of low-enriched uranium is false. First of all the majority of the uranium removed from Iraq was unprocessed ore, radioactive yea, but completely benign with regard to weaponization. The mere possession of low-grade uranium is equally as useless because it needs to be processed. Iraq had no centrifuges for uranium processing, therefore the raw material was useless for a nuclear weapon. Equally, even if the desire existed to convert the raw material into a dirty bomb, it would have been ineffective. In order for the uranium to be dangerous, it would need to be processed to isotope U235, then burnt using something like magnesium to create an inhalable powder. However, due to the weight of uranium (heavier than lead), dispersal is difficult. Low-grade uranium is completely useless in terms of weaponization.

As for chemical weapons, the Deulfer report reads, "While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad's desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered." The sanctions imposed on Iraq after they invaded Iran crippled their chemical weapons program. And to respond to your claim that a mustard gas casing was found and that two soldiers were tested for minor exposure to a nerve agent in Iraq in 2004, who cares? Mustard gas and sarin gas have short shelf lives, like other forms of chemical weapons, of about 5 years. While an older weapon might make you sick (sort of like old milk), the chemical toxins that make chemical weapons effective on a battlefield expire. And once they expire, they can't be considered chemical weapons anymore because their effects are no longer the same.

As for biological weapons, the Deulfer report reads, "With the economy at rock bottom in late 1995, ISG judges that Baghdad abandoned its existing BW program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad's ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions. In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes." No further discussion is needed on this topic.

And lastly, after almost 6 full years of occupying Iraq, why were no WMDs found? Because Iraq didn't have any.

(1) Brow, David, "No Evidence Chemical Weapons Used in Gulf War, Panel Says," Washington Post, January 5, 1995.
(2) William J. Perry and General John Shalikashvili, "Memorandum for Persian Gulf Veterans, Subject: Persian Gulf War Health Issues," May 25, 1995.
(3) http://www.lib.umich.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

Responses:

>> "It is invalid to debate whether or not "Iraq was known to have (or have had previously) possession of weapons of mass destruction.""

Writ large, agreed - however, I mean this in the context of that the invasion was not a surprise to Iraq, and they could have had weapons at the time of the decision to invade that were destroyed before the actual invasion began. Also, there was a round of inspection between 1998 and 2002, the results of which provide basis for invasion, that would have caused the government to hide any material at that time.

>> "During the military operation, the U.S. had used depleted uranium shells (munitions which could arguably be considered WMDs)"

Depleted Uranium has not been shown to count as even a radiological weapon (http://fhp.osd.mil...). Furthermore, if you concede that DU is a WMD, then Iraq certainly had/used WMD's...

>> "This begs the question, if Iraq had WMDs, why were they not used during the ground invasion of Iraq?"

Because the US would have retaliated in kind by turning Baghdad, Al Basrah, Khorramshahr, Abadan, Kirkuk, and Mosul into smoking craters.

***************************

My opponent references the ISG several times - here's what the ISG has to say about WMD in Iraq:

""The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but [there is] the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq, although not of a militarily significant capability... There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial, body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted..."

"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."

***************************

>> "Moreover, your claim that Iraq had the "technology at the time to produce a nuclear weapon" because of the removal of two tons of low-enriched uranium is false."

Iraq had a nuclear program underway, as well as pieces of technology and the required plans to produce a weapon buried under Mahdi Obeidi's rose garden (http://www.cnn.com...).

>> "First of all the majority of the uranium removed from Iraq was unprocessed ore, radioactive yea, but completely benign with regard to weaponization. Equally, even if the desire existed to convert the raw material into a dirty bomb, it would have been ineffective. In order for the uranium to be dangerous, it would need to be processed to isotope U235, then burnt using something like magnesium to create an inhalable powder."

Incorrect - unenriched uranium is perfectly applicable to radiological weapon building. Even naturally ocurring U-238 is radioactive, and a simple explosive could be enough to particalize it for inhalation or skin contact. Embedded U-238 particles in one's liver would be bad news.

>> "Mustard gas and sarin gas have short shelf lives, like other forms of chemical weapons, of about 5 years."

Which suggests that any mustard gas or sarin found was manufactured recently... In fact, right about the same time that inspection teams began showing up - the same inspection teams who were not allowed access to many areas of factories and laboratories and were ejected from the country by Hussein's regime...

Doesn't that beg the question - Why were inspectors not allowed unilateral access if Iraq had no WMDs to hide?

>> "And lastly, after almost 6 full years of occupying Iraq, why were no WMDs found? Because Iraq didn't have any."

A declassified letter from the Director of National Intelligence states otherwise, noting among other things that coalition forces have removed 500 weapons containing degraded mustard or sarin, and that even degraded chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal (http://intelligence.house.gov...).

*******************

Furthermore, the proposition can be fulfilled if one considers that Saddam may have moved stockpiles out of Iraq, most notably to Syria, before the actual invasion began - http://en.wikipedia.org... - has more information on that specific theory.

Degraded weapons are still WMD.
BrianHull

Con

BrianHull forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
JustCallMeTarzan

Pro

Extend my arguments.

I've put forth a case - Vote Pro.

AFFIRMED.
BrianHull

Con

BrianHull forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by lordjosh 8 years ago
lordjosh
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Vote Placed by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
JustCallMeTarzan
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