Monday, October 14, 2013

"Everyone knew there weren't any chemical weapons ..."


Kudos to the New York Times and reporter Marlise Simons for using the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as an occasion to revisit a particularly noxious aspect of the Bush/Chaney regime's invasion of Iraq under cover of lies.

The Brazilian diplomat José Bustani was the founding director general of the U.N. chemical weapons monitoring agency. In late 2001, Washington saw the agency as an impediment to their plan for invading Iraq -- what if Saddam Hussein agreed to international inspections and showed, as proved to be true, that he had no chemical weapons?

So they had to remove the organization's leadership.

… John R. Bolton marched into the office of [the organization's] boss to inform him that he would be fired.

“He told me I had 24 hours to resign,” said José Bustani, who was director general of the agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. “And if I didn’t I would have to face the consequences.”

… As Mr. Bustani tells the story, the campaign against him began in late 2001, after Iraq and Libya had indicated that they wanted to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty that the watchdog agency oversees. To join, countries have to provide a list of stockpiles and agree to the inspection and destruction of weapons, as Syria did last month after applying. Inspectors from the agency were making plans to visit Iraq in late January 2002, he said.

“We had a lot of discussions because we knew it would be difficult,” Mr. Bustani, who is now Brazil’s ambassador to France, said Friday in his embassy office in Paris. The plans, which he had conveyed to a number of countries, “caused an uproar in Washington,” he said. Soon, he was receiving warnings from American and other diplomats.

… “By the end of December 2001, it became evident that the Americans were serious about getting rid of me,” he said. “People were telling me, ‘They want your head.’ ”

… Mr. Bustani and some senior officials, both in Brazil and the United States, say Washington acted because it believed that the organization under Mr. Bustani threatened to become an obstacle to the administration’s plans to invade Iraq. As justification, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, possessed chemical weapons, but Mr. Bustani said his own experts had told him that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s, after the Persian Gulf war.

“Everybody knew there weren’t any,” he said. “An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would completely nullify the decision to invade.”

Mr. Bustani points out that Syria has been allowed to do what Iraq was not: join the convention against chemical weapons, make disclosure, and avoid bombing or invasion. Guess that is how international agencies are supposed to work, when rampaging empires let them do their job.

Graphic via Wikipedia.

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