The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction

Tuesday 5th October: “The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
The talk was given by Roger Thomas, who is a career diplomat with the Foreign Office and has held various posts within Europe and more particularly in the Middle East where he was Consul in Turkey and finally Ambassador in Azerbaijan.
He was a leader of the original UNSCOM inspection team, which was tasked with searching for Sadam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction after the first gulf war when Iraq was beaten back from the invasion of Kuwait. The talk gave a fascinating insight into the extent of the biological weapons programme in which Iraq had been active, a forbidding aspect of which is that the inspectors discovered sufficient supplies of Anthrax alone to kill the global world population four times! By diligent and technical searching the team wrinkled out the disguised manufacturing plants and believe that by the end of the process they had destroyed both them and the stockpiles. Roger also described their work in tracking down all the Russian supplied Scud missiles and also described how the Iraqis were deriving the technology to rebuild longer range missiles, regrettably using parts sourced in the UK via dubious intermediaries. He did pour some scorn on the later claim that Iraqi could deliver a rocket based weapon with 45 minutes as claimed by Tony Blair since it took some hours to fit the gyro guidance systems to the rockets before use.
He also said that Dr David Kelly had been a key member of their team, and was an extremely diligent and dogged scientific investigator who would have been put under enormous personal strain by the unwanted pressure placed on him at the time of the inquiry into the war in addition to the problems of the health of his wife and might indeed have thought enough is enough.
As an illustration of how careful diplomats should be, he began the talk with the comment that the US Ambassador to Iraq had made a passing remark to Saddam that the US would not wish to interfere with squabbles between Arab brethren. Hence the invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War, destruction of Iraq, and who knows what’s to come.
T Tomkins