May 18, 2004

shell explodes in Iraq - or does it? While sources are reporting that a shell filled with sarin "misfired" earlier today, the chemistry of sarin gas leads me to believe otherwise. According to agonist, sarin has an exceedingly short shelf life. To extend it, Iraq made binary bombs that contained only one component. The secondary component needed to be added at the last minute - by hand! In other words, the "botched" sarin shell likely contained only isopropynol - which we use in a mildly diluted form as rubbing alcohol.
  • I am very very suspicious of this.
  • This is very interesting. Thank you for such a well prepared post. I will definately keep this in mind as the story develops.
  • Very interesting, although it makes you wonder how, if this were the case, both the former and current lead weapons inspectors in Iraq missed this elementary fact.
  • As a slight addendum, BBC News says that the shell dated right back to the Iran-Iraq war. Great post - although the binary bombs link does seem to suggest that not all binary weapons required the addition of the agent by hand, and also mentions the possibility that they had developed more durable unitary agents. Not sure how the dates tie up - if it was from Iran-Iraq, it may well be from before they'd even tested binary weapons. Perhaps the "limited release" was simply a result of badly degraded sarin. Or something. Whatever - as Wolof said, will keep this in mind if we ever hear anything about this story again (which past experience suggests we may not...)
  • Any news of these WMD finds should be treated suspiciously (this IS an election year in the US). If any Americans haven't made their minds up how they plan to vote, I hope they won't let themselves be influenced by anything in the news over the next 6 months.
  • I hope they won't let themselves be influenced by anything in the news over the next 6 months Exactly. Last thing we want is a voter who is influenced by the news.
  • Exactly. Last thing we want is a voter who is influenced by the news. Especially in this age of manufactured events, when said news pops up conveniently around the time a certain candidate needs a boost in the polls. Be he left or right.
  • Thank you for this - I was surprised at the time why the BBC hardly mentioned it at all, but it was a headline at CNN. According to the Globe and Mail newspaper: UN weapons inspectors suggested that the anti-American insurgents who planted the shell probably didn't realize it had a chemical munitions warhead.
  • Well, either they didn't realize, or they were poorly trained in the deployment of chemical weapons. The heat of the explosion neutralized most of the effectiveness of whatever agent was present in the warhead. My bet is on the not realizing what they had part...
  • Gawd lawd allmahtee! Well-played homunculus. Thanks for posting. If anyone recalls the small bits of this comment I made, I do have a follow-up: I had to return to the same cargo building at the unnamed NYC airport in October of last year. They were still holding the very same crate from the Israeli military that they tried to give me in the June prior. Yet again, they claimed that this crate was mine. I seriously thought about taking it. But after careful consideration, I figured it was best left untouched. Reading this article makes me feel comfortable with my decision. Who knows what the hell was (presumably still is) inside that crate.
  • And since I missed the sarin thread first time around, I can't part without a little 'ol chant... Shoku... shoku... asahara shoku...