Where Did Saddam Hussein Aquire His Drones?
U.S. officials were especially concerned about the report's revelation that U.N. inspectors recently found a drone aircraft with a 24 1/2-foot wingspan -- about one-half the size of the U.S. military's Predator -- that Iraq had not officially declared. U.N. teams are trying to determine if the pilotless plane can fly more than 93 miles, the limit set by the U.N.
In December, U.N. inspectors also found modified aircraft fuel tanks that could be used as spray tanks on a drone.
Iraq has admitted that in the late 1980s, it sought to convert MIG-21 jets into drones to spray chemical and biological weapons, but abandoned the effort. The program, directed by Hussein's older son, Uday, was resumed in 1995, using Czech L-29 jet trainers. Why would Saddam even admit to something like this? Is it because he is trying to distract the world away from other, even more serious weapons programs?
U.N. reports sharply fault Iraq for refusing to identify its black-market sources for raw materials, equipment and supplies for its illegal weapons programs. It cites 40 cases where Baghdad has supplied "insufficient information" for biological weapons, 70 for chemical agents and nearly 500 for missiles.
"On many occasions, the imports are simply referred to as coming from the 'local market' or from 'Iraq' when it is clear that the items actually originated from overseas," it says. Many of the components of Iraq's drones and missiles "originated from overseas and the supplier has been inadequately identified."
Should we be looking at North Korea for our answers to that question? Or should we look even closer at Yemen considering it's recent mishief regarding missiles it claimed it purchased from North Korea, after having denied claims to the shipment the U.S. intercepted at sea? Should Yemen be placed amongst those deemed to be members of the axis of evil?
© Arlene Longson March 14/2003