World Magazine interviews Rolf Ekeus, the longest-serving UN weapons inspector:
With few exceptions, the dismantling process and inspections were going nowhere until Mr. Ekeus and two other inspectors interrogated Gen. Kamal [Saddam’s son-in-law] in 1995. He confirmed something UNSCOM had come to suspect: that Saddam held few stockpiles of banned weapons.
“What Iraq learned in its war against Iran, where it used chemical weapons in massive scale, was to be wary of chemical weapons-based warfare agents that had been stored. It had great difficulty stabilizing nerve agents. If you cannot stabilize nerve agents, meaning to store them, the poison quality deteriorates. Then it no longer has strategic significance.”
Rather than amass large inventories, Mr. Ekeus discovered, Saddam was more interested in quick means to produce them. Gen. Kamal’s testimony revealed an active interest in perpetuating Iraq’s manufacturing capacity.
Six months after that meeting and the debriefings that followed, Gen. Kamal was shot dead in Baghdad, a portent of the long and treacherous road ahead.
Maybe the problems facing President Bush now over the WMD debate would have been avoided if the administration had done a better job of explaining the difference between stockpiles and capabilities.