Declassified Ignorance
Jude Wanniski
July 24, 2003


Memo: To: Senate & House Intelligence Committees
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The National Intelligence Estimate? Huh?

Dr. Gordon Prather has taken the trouble to read the declassified portions of last October's National Intelligence Estimate, which supposedly took the combined judgments of the CIA, the DIA and whatever other intelligence was laying around. He notes that every single judgment found in the passages you will read below turned out to be wrong. The UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors discovered every one of these errors in a matter of weeks. A fiasco would be a kind way to describe the efforts of our zillion-dollar intelligence agencies. Now I expect you congresspersons will conclude that if we want better intelligence, we should double the budgets for our snoops.

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We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade. (See INR alternative view at the end of these Key Judgments.)

We judge that we are seeing only a portion of Iraq's WMD efforts, owing to Baghdad's vigorous denial and deception efforts. Revelations after the Gulf war starkly demonstrate the extensive efforts undertaken by Iraq to deny information. We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs.

Since inspections ended in 1998, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort, energized its missile program, and invested more heavily in biological weapons; in the view of most agencies, Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

o Iraq's growing ability to sell oil illicitly increases Baghdad's capabilities to finance WMD programs; annual earnings in cash and goods have more than quadrupled, from $580 million in 1998 to about $3 billion this year.
o Iraq has largely rebuilt missile and biological weapons facilities damaged during Operation Desert Fox and has expanded its chemical and biological infrastructure under the cover of civilian production.
o Baghdad has exceeded UN range limits of 150 km with its ballistic missiles and is working with unmanned aerials vehicles (UAVs), which allow for a more lethal means to deliver biological and, less likely, chemical warfare agents.
o Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors depart - December 1998.

How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.

o If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.
o Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009, owing to inexperience in building and operating centrifuge facilities to produce highly enriched uranium and challenges in procuring the necessary equipment and expertise.
o Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotor - as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools - provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)
o Iraq's efforts to re-establish and enhance its cadre of weapons personnel as well as activities at several suspect nuclear sites further indicate that reconstruction is underway.
o All agencies agree that about 25,000 centrifuges based on tubes of the size Iraq is trying to acquire would be capable of producing approximately two weapons' worth of highly enriched uranium per year.
o In a much less likely scenario, Baghdad could make enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by 2005 to 2007 if it obtains suitable centrifuge tubes this year and has all the other materials and technological expertise necessary to build production-scale uranium enrichment facilities.

We assess that Baghdad has begun renewed production of mustard, sarin, GF (cyclosarin), and VX; its capability probably is more limited now than it was at the time of the Gulf War, although VX production and agent storage life probably have been improved.

o An array of clandestine reporting reveals that Baghdad has procured covertly the types and quantities of chemicals and equipment sufficient to allow limited CW agent production hidden within Iraq's legitimate chemical industry.
o Although we have little specific information on Iraq's CW stockpile, Saddam probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons (MT) and possibly as much as 500 MT of CW agents - much of it added in the last year.
o The Iraqis have experience in manufacturing CW bombs, artillery rockets, and projectiles. We assess that that they possess CW bulk fills for SRBM warheads, including for a limited number of covertly stored Scuds, possibly a few with extended ranges.

We judge that all key aspects - R&D, production, and weaponization - of Iraq's offensive BW program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf war.

o We judge Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives.
o Chances are even that smallpox is part of Iraq's offensive BW program
o Baghdad probably has developed genetically engineered BW agents
o Baghdad has established a large-scale, redundant, and concealed BW agent production capability.
o Baghdad has mobile facilities for producing bacterial and toxin BW agents; these facilities can evade detection and are highly survivable. Within three to six months these units probably could produce an amount of agent equal to the total that Iraq produced in the years prior to the Gulf War.