The Bush administration, irked at disclosures of missing munitions in Iraq, is blaming the chief watchdog of the International Atomic Energy Agency rather than trying to do anything about the problem.
Bush & Co. view the actions of Mohammed El Baradei, director general of the IAEA, as interference in the U.S. presidential election. A senior White House official said Friday that the administration will actively seek his ouster from that position if Bush wins re-election. (Daily Times, Pakistan)
U.S. officials, on previous occasions, had urged El Baradei to step down after two terms. Now, an angry Bush intends to actively oppose his reappointment. El Baradei flatly denies his statements had any political motivation.
He had disclosed that nearly 400 tons of high explosives are missing from a munitions dump at al Qaqaa south of Baghdad. The IAEA stated the site was never secured by U.S. troops after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The explosives could be used to make nuclear weapons or to destroy airplanes, buildings or for many other military applications.
The issue provided fodder for Sen. John Kerrys campaign in the waning days of the contest for the White House. Kerry charged Bush blundered by not safeguarding the munitions dump. He claimed that showed Bushs weakness as a leader. (Reuters) Al Qaqaa is but one of more than 100 sites in Iraq that contained an estimated 600,000 tons of munitions.
In Vienna, a member of Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, said the organization warned the U.S. military about a cache of hundreds of high-explosive warheads in Iraq in May 2003. The spokesman said officials appeared uninterested and 10 days later still had not secured the armaments.
Peter Bouckaert, head of a Human Rights Watch international emergency team, told the AP he was shown two rooms on May 9, 2003, that were stacked to the roof with missile warheads. The warheads were in a warehouse on the grounds of a military college in Baqouba, 55 kilometers northeast of Baghdad.
Bouckaert said he furnished the U.S. military with the precise location of the material but, by the time he left on May 19, 2003, he had seen no American troops at the site and the rooms were being looted methodically and daily by armed men.
Bouckaert said when people in the Baqouba area showed him the weapons he took photos and then headed straight to the Green Zonethe American command centerin Baghdad. He said military officials were barely interested in his pictures and information, but he eventually was put in touch with other officials and showed them what he had. He even located the munitions dump on a map. Despite all that, the site was not secured by the time he left the area. (dailytimes.com.pk)