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Possible WMDs

Details are sketchy at this point, but CNN is reporting that soldiers have encountered a Sarin Gas shell while dealing with an IED. The unit in question was binary, designed to mix two inert chemicals to produce the toxin after it was fired. It’s unusual construction compromised it’s value as an IED. And it isn’t the first. Ten days ago, the Army says they found a mustard gas shell.

This is the first I'ver heard of it, however. If you're waiting for headlines of dead soldiers, stop holding your breath. The two soldiers contaminated were released from medical care. I imagine the explosives around the shell did either a poor job of mixing.

The Iraqis using it, according to Gen. Mark Kemmit, did not seem to be aware of the chemical agent. these paragraphs from CBS News make an even more blackly humorous statement as to the situation:

U.S. officials said Monday they are concerned that other sarin-filled munitions may still exist in Iraq and may not be well marked.

The deadly chemical was inside an artillery shell dating to the Saddam Hussein era that had been rigged as a bomb in Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq.

FoxNews reports the following about the mustard gas shell:

Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."

Alright, so these shells came from somewhere. Were they supplied or scavenged? Could the people who set off this shell know where to lead us to find the rest? Are there enough to account for the discrepancies that started this whole thing in the first place? And of course: are these from a time when Saddam wasn't supposed to have these?

And most importantly, should we be broadcasting this information right now, having not secured whatever source these shells came from? My worry is that knowing they might have such shells, our opponents might very well redesign their IEDs to suit. That, friends and neighbors, will change the game very significantly. IEDs lobotomizing soldiers and destroying Humvees is one thing. IEDs spreading chemical death over a city block is an entirely different matter.

Well folks, the game has changed, on both sides of the Atlantic. How much is what we need to know. Any comments that could cast additional light on these developments would be welcome.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2004 1:30 PM