[LINK] Three mystery ships are tracked over suspected 'weapons'
Thu, 20 Feb 2003 19:18:21 +1100 (EST)
On Thu, 20 Feb 2003, Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> Whatever else Saddam Hussein is, he is cunning and he is a survivor. And he
> plays by his own rules.
> The military call it asymmetrical warfare
> Three mystery ships are tracked over suspected 'weapons' cargo
> By Michael Harrison
> 19 February 2003
> The Independent
> Three giant cargo ships are being tracked by US and British intelligence on
> suspicion that they might be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
> Each with a deadweight of 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes, the ships have been
> sailing around the world's oceans for the past three months while
> maintaining radio silence in clear violation of international maritime law,
> say authoritative shipping industry sources.
> The vessels left port in late November, just a few days after UN weapons
> inspectors led by Hans Blix began their search for the alleged Iraqi
> arsenal on their return to the country.
OK, so why weren't they challenged whilst they were still in the Gulf?
Wait until they get into open waters, and whilst they maintain radio
silence then they basically "don't exist". Now, in mid-ocean it's
amazing how effective and silent a tactical nuke can be. I have always
had my suspicions when the Admiral Belgrano went down so quickly in the
Falklands War in '82.
> Uncovering such a deadly cargo on board would give George Bush and Tony
> Blair the much sought-after "smoking gun" needed to justify an attack on
> Saddam Hussein's regime, in the face of massive public opposition to war.
> The ships were chartered by a shipping agent based in Egypt and are flying
> under the flags of three different countries. The continued radio silence
> since they left port, in addition to the captains' failure to provide
> information on their cargoes or their destinations, is a clear breach of
> international maritime laws.
> The vessels are thought to have spent much of their time in the deep waters
> of the Indian Ocean, berthing at sea when they need to collect supplies of
> fuel and food. They have berthed in a handful of Arab countries, including
> American and British military forces are believed to be reluctant to stop
> and search the vessels for fear that any intervention might result in them
> being scuttled. If they were carrying chemical and biological weapons, or
> fissile nuclear material, and they were to be sunk at sea, the
> environmental damage could be catastrophic.
> Washington and London might also want to orchestrate any raids so that they
> can present the ships as "evidence" that President Saddam is engaged in
> "material breach" of UN resolutions. This could provide the trigger for
> military strikes. While security sources in London last night were unable
> to provide information on any surveillance operation, the movement of the
> three ships is the source of growing concern among maritime and
> intelligence experts.
> A shipping industry source told The Independent: "If Iraq does have weapons
> of mass destruction, then a very large part of its capability could be
> afloat on the high seas right now. These ships have maintained radio
> silence for long periods and, for a considerable time, they have been
> steaming around in ever-decreasing circles."
> The ships are thought to have set sail from a country other than Iraq to
> avoid running the gauntlet of Western naval vessels patrolling the Gulf.
> Defence experts believe that, if they are carrying weapons of mass
> destruction, these could have been smuggled out through Syria or Jordan.
OK, that might answer my interception question.
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