Saturday, January 18, 2003

It didn't take long for "empty carrying chemical weapons" to morph into simply "chemical weapons warheads" as read by the war cheerleaders on the news. And, now we find out that the warheads go with tripod or truck mounted battlefield rocket launchers capable of sending them all of 12 miles.

By themselves, the warheads are not a provocation so serious that it would justify going to war. Iraq has had a vast number of 122-millimeter rockets in its inventory for years and fired variants with gas and explosive warheads at the Iranians in its long, bloody stalemate with Tehran.

The rockets are battlefield weapons that have a range of about 12 miles and can be fired from a tripod or a truck. While they could be used against troops in the field, they are not the sort of system that could threaten United States territory or, like nuclear weapons, fundamentally alter the balance of military power in the Persian Gulf.

"It is a tactical chemical weapons delivery system," observed Walter P. Lang, a former intelligence analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. "You don't fill them up until you are ready to use them."

These are unlikely to pose much of a threat to Oklahoma, or even Tel Aviv or Kuwait City.