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Al Qaqaa is About to Hit the Fan

Iraq is a mess! “OK so that’s obvious, so what,” comes the refrain from the Bush camp. “After all Saddam was worse and you can’t make a Republic without a little conflict. Things will settle down and the world is safer than it was before we deposed Saddam.” “Qaqaa, (might I suggest the phonetic pronunciation CaCaa for that unusual letter combination)” should finally provide the answer to that rationalization.

What if there were 380 tons of high explosives that had been monitored by the UN inspectors before the war interrupted their arms control efforts? That’s 760,000 pounds of explosives so potent that the bomb that blew up the plane over Lockerbie Scotland took only one pound of the exact same substance? What if those explosives have been dispersed throughout Iraq and quite probably the Middle East since we invaded? Those, by the way, are not really questions, they expose established facts. Approximately 380 tons of HMX and RDX plastic explosive compounds have disappeared from the storage facilities at Al Qaqaa, Iraq.

The nicest thing about Plastique as the French call the class of explosives to which these substances belong is that it is lot’s safer and much more powerful than TNT. The impact caused by an explosive is determined by the speed of the compression wave front propagated by the detonation of the explosive material. For instance the velocity of a bullet is determined by the rate of propagation of the gasses released by the explosive combustion of the gunpowder. Those explosive compounds are relatively slow, a thousand or two feet per second is fast enough to drive a bullet through most targets.

As I recall, HMX propagates a blast wave at around ten thousand feet per second. RDX propagates a wave front at closer to 25,000 feet per second. In any case both are really, really fast explosives. Fast enough to compress metal. If these explosives surround a small hollow globe of metal, say Plutonium, that when compressed rapidly enough reaches critical mass, thus generating a runaway chain reaction, then BOOM, you can make a pretty mushroom cloud. These are dangerous materials to put into the hands of terrorists, even Saddam knew that. They also can make a lot of infrastructure go BOOM with little danger to the person placing the explosives, given a little training.

You can burn it in a fire and it will not detonate, you can pound it with a hammer and it will not detonate, it is traceable and detectable if you have a high quality sniffer. A well trained dog will do. Dogs are “unclean” in Islamic terms so they will not likely be used in Iraq by Iraqis. That leaves an expensive fragile piece of equipment as the only means of detecting the presence of these explosives in a package or a backpack. The problems posed by these explosives, when they are available to insurgents in any substantial quantity, are well known. They are way on the top of the list of things that you would want to keep out of the hands of suicide bombers for instance.

So why have 380 tons of these substances been released into the hands of the insurgency since we took over from Saddam? There you will have to ask the Bush Administration but don’t expect an answer anytime soon. They are busy impressing all of us with how much safer we all are because Iraq is no longer in Saddam’s hands. How do you fumble a football of High Explosive compounds that weighs 380 tons? David Copperfield would have had a hard time making that big a pile disappear. After all an Elephant only weighs a couple of tons at best. But that stockpile is now floating around the world in the hands of people who hate us, do you feel safer?

It makes me sleep better at night thinking that the ownership of those materials has gone from the bloody hands of Saddam who we were watching; to the bloody hands of an unknown terrorist under w’s watch. How about you? God bless and keep you safe from the incompetent protection afforded us by government. We are all too often better off on our own. ©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at October 25, 2004 9:16 AM