Parts of Iraqi missiles discovered in Dutch scrapyard – UN report

Parts of Iraqi missiles discovered in Dutch scrapyard – UN report

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Engines of two surface-to-air missiles from Iraq have turned up at a scrapyard in the Netherlands, according to a new report by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), tasked by the Security Council to probe the country’s illicit arms programme.

Engines of two surface-to-air missiles from Iraq have turned up at a scrapyard in the Netherlands, according to a new report by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), tasked by the Security Council to probe the country’s illicit arms programme.

Commission experts have verified that one of the engines came from an Al Samoud 2 missile – proscribed under international sanctions – that had been tagged by UN inspectors in the past.

UNMOVIC says this new development demonstrates the difficulty of discovering the scope of Iraq’s clandestine arms programme. “The existence of missile engines originating in Iraq among scrap in Europe may affect the accounting of proscribed engines known to have been in Iraq’s possession in March 2003,” it says.

Representatives of the scrapyard indicated that up to a dozen similar engines had been seen there earlier this year, while more could have passed through unnoticed.

The report also points to evidence that more scraps have been shipped from Iraq. “Company staff confirmed that other items made of stainless steel and other corrosion-resistant metal alloys bearing the inscription ‘Iraq’ or ‘Baghdad’ had been observed in shipments delivered from the Middle East since November 2003,” the report says.

After examining a number of these items, UNMOVIC experts found that they were composed of inconel and titanium – both “dual-use” materials which could be used either for civilian or military purposes.

Recent satellite imagery indicate that a number of sites in Iraq previously known to have contained equipment or materials subject to international monitoring have been “either cleaned out or destroyed,” according to the report.

UNMOVIC does not know whether the goods there were still present at the time of coalition action in March and April 2003, but it notes that some of the materials may have been removed by looters and sold as scrap.