6/21/2006

Chemical weapons in Iraq

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) announced Wednesday the finding of over 500 munitions or weapons of mass destruction, specifically “sarin- and mustard-filled projectiles,” in Iraq.

Reading from unclassified portions of a document developed by the U.S. intelligence community, Santorum said, “Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.”

According to Santorum, “That means in addition to the 500, there are filled and unfilled munitions still believed to exist within the country.”

Reading from the document, Santorum added, “Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the Black Market. Use of these weapons by terrorist or insurgent groups would have implications for coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside of Iraq cannot be ruled out. The most likely munitions remaining are sarin- and mustard-filled projectiles. And I underscore filled.”

Santorum said the “purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions.”
While acknowledging that the agents “degrade over time,” the document said that the chemicals “remain hazardous and lethal.”

The media has reported that “insurgents and Iraqi groups” want to “acquire and use chemical weapons,” Santorum noted.

The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction is in fact false,” Santorum said. “We have found over 500 weapons of mass destruction and in fact have found that there are additional chemical weapons still in the country. Hopefully a few of these munitions will find its into the front yard of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Maybe then Canada will get off it's ass and help.

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