The 300+ tons of missing high-explosives could just be the tip of the iceberg. This Tuesday cannot come fast enough:
Vast amounts of weapons-related material missing, official says
By Jonathan S. Landay
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - The more than 320 tons of missing Iraqi high explosives at center stage in the U.S. presidential election are only a fraction of the weapons-related material that's disappeared in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion last year.
Huge amounts of arms and ammunition were stolen from military sites, and there's "ample evidence" that Iraqi insurgents are firing looted weapons at U.S. troops and using some of them in car bombs and improvised explosive devices, said a senior U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
U.N. officials also are concerned about the disappearance of sensitive equipment and controlled materials that could be used to develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
"If this equipment is finding itself on the open market, then anybody with money can buy it," said Dimitri Perricos, acting head of the U.N. Monitoring and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC), the U.N. weapons inspection agency.
The CIA has convened a "mini taskforce" of experts to assess precisely what equipment is gone and what threat it could pose if it fell into the wrong hands, said two U.S. officials.
In a new disclosure, the senior U.S. military officer and another U.S. official, who also spoke on condition he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that an Iraqi working for U.S. intelligence alerted U.S. troops stationed near the al Qaqaa weapons facility that the installation was being looted shortly after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.
But, they said, the troops took no apparent action to halt the pillaging.
"That was one of numerous times when Iraqis warned us that ammo dumps and other places were being looted and we weren't able to respond because we didn't have anyone to send," said a senior U.S. military officer who served in Iraq.