Are There Still Stockpiles of Chemical Weapons in Iraq?

Report: The C.I.A. and U.S. troops bought and destroyed nerve-agent rockets in Iraq. A nuclear arms expert responds.

By David Brown February 17, 2015 1:45 pm

Normally yesterday’s news is just that. But Monday’s headline in the The New York Times made some of us do a double take.

A report from C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt revealed the C.I.A. bought and destroyed Iraqi chemical weapons. According to the story, the agency worked with American troops to round up and purchase more than 400 nerve agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller between 2005 and 2006.

This was deemed by the military to be a major success in keeping nerve agents out of the hands of terrorists. But most of us thought there were no chemical weapons found in Iraq. In fact, some have called the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a false pretext for war that very much defined the presidency of George W. Bush.

But if there were chemical weapons in Iraq after all, does that change the story?

Texas Standard speaks with Valerie Lincy, executive director of the Wisconsin Project, a group that tracks weapons proliferation worldwide.

“I was surprised to learn about the program and the extent to which it operated without anyone really knowing about it,” Lincy says. “But I wasn’t surprised that there were chemical filled munitions in Iraq that we had not discovered.”

Lincy is concerned that there still might be stockpiles of weapons out there, at a time when the self-proclaimed Islamic State is operating in the region.

“That’s a real concern, just looking at the numbers unaccounted for; before 2003 they ran into the thousands,” Lincy explains. “And from the Times report, it looks like hundreds were purchased – so there’s no question that there could be more out there.”

Listen to the full interview in the player above.