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7/03/2004

No Polish WMD find

This morning, the Corner pointed to this AP article as breaking news.

WARSAW, Poland -- Terrorists may have been close to obtaining munitions containing the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin that Polish soldiers recovered last month in Iraq, the head of Poland's military intelligence said Friday.

Polish troops had been searching for munitions as part of their regular mission in south-central Iraq when they were told by an informant in May that terrorists had made a bid to buy the chemical weapons, which date back to Saddam Hussein's war with Iran in the 1980s, Gen. Marek Dukaczewski told reporters in Warsaw.

"We were mortified by the information that terrorists were looking for these warheads and offered $5,000 apiece," Dukaczewski said. "An attack with such weapons would be hard to imagine. All of our activity was accelerated at appropriating these warheads."

Dukaczewski refused to give any further details about the terrorists or the sellers of the munitions, saying only that his troops thwarted terrorists by purchasing the 17 rockets for a Soviet-era launcher and two mortar rounds containing the nerve agent for an undisclosed sum June 23.
Donald Rumsfeld mentioned it two days ago, and the Washington Post dutifully reported his comments without rebuttal. Unfortunately for the Republicans, the story has already been debunked. From the Progressive Blog Digest, Reuters:
Poland said Friday its troops in Iraq had stopped old munitions from Saddam's era containing the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin from falling into the hands of militants.

But the U.S. military said only two rockets had tested positive for sarin gas and posed little threat, and that another 16 rockets found by the Poles had contained no chemical agents.
From War and Piece: A UPI story, and a Centcom Press Release:
July 2, 2004
Release Number: 04-07-05

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

IRAQ ROCKETS FOUND IN LATE JUNE TEST NEGATIVE FOR CHEMICALS

Baghdad, Iraq - On June 16, 2004, an Iraqi civilian led Polish Soldiers to two 122mm rockets he had found in Al Hillah.

The rounds were tested and showed positive for Sarin gas. It has been determined that the rounds were left over from the Iran-Iraq war.

Due to the deteriorated state of the rounds and small quantity of remaining agent, these rounds were determined to have limited to no impact if used by insurgents against Coalition Forces.

The source led Soldiers to 16 more 122mm rockets over a period from June 23 - 26, 2004. Those 16 rounds were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT THE PRESS INFORMATOIN CENTER AT
914-360-5082.
As Sid's Fishbowl notes, Centcom tested these shells, yet Rumsfeld was still asserting uncertainty.

 

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