Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Experts ponder missing Iraq weapons

Revelations that nearly 400 tonnes of conventional explosives have gone missing in Iraq have experts wondering what other weapons might be in jeopardy of falling into insurgent or terrorist hands.By all accounts, Iraq is studded with weapons depots - many in places where US-led forces are preoccupied with their fiercest fighting.Troubling questions about what other weapons might be vulnerable to looting have arisen since the UN nuclear agency's warning this week that 342 tonnes of non-nuclear explosives disappeared from the former Al-Qaqaa military installation south of Baghdad.The explosives included HMX and RDX, key components in plastic explosives, which insurgents in Iraq have used to deadly effect in months of bloody car bomb attacks on the US-led multinational force."Given the number of arms, and the number of caches and the extent of militarisation of Iraq, it was impossible to provide 100 per cent of security for 100 per cent of the sites," said Adam Ereli, the US State Department's deputy spokesman.