The UnAustralian

Thursday, April 08, 2004
Terrorists as Stupid as Intelligent Analysts

Chemical weapons, in my opinion, are being slandered by classing them as weapons of mass destruction. Compared with nuclear and some hypothesised biological weapons, they simply don't make the cut. There isn't much that you can do with chemical weapons that you can't do with high explosives.

The majority of intelligent analysts in Australia, the UK and the US simply aren't that good. On the issue of Iraqi WMD, they failed. Badly. When Robin Cook can look at intelligent data and come out with a more accurate assessment than that produced by the professionals you know something's wrong. While the evidence for Saddam engaging in significant WMD production post 1998 was non-existent, it is impossible to prove that all of his old decaying stockpiles were destroyed. Hence, it was always (and still is) possible that some ancient chemical weapons would be discovered. However, these weapons really weren't a threat when one takes into account the weapons that Iraq was known to possess (guns, explosives etc). Don't believe the hype.

However, there is always an idiot who takes in propaganda hook line and sinker. And it appears that when it's not the warbloggers, it's the terrorists. The British chemical bomb plot involving osmium tetraoxide is a good example. OsO4, is a nasty chemical. I've worked with it in the past, and you have to take all sorts of safety measures - such as working with it in a flumehood, and breaking open the ampoules into a plastic beaker (so the beaker doesn't accidentally break) of methanol (to stop any vapours reaching your eyes).

However, OsO4 would be a crap chemical weapon. It's very expensive, it's difficult to handle, obtaining significant quantities is hard. Plus, it really wouldn't that more deadly than the bomb used to disperse it. Simply replacing the OsO4 with more explosives and nails would be much more effective.
| 6:05 PM