Inside the Ring

Iran’s weapons

Much public attention has been focused in recent weeks on Iran’s continuing efforts to hide its covert nuclear weapons program.

The Bush administration recently highlighted another major weapons problem, accusing Tehran of building deadly biological and chemical arms.

The State Department’s annual report “Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” said Iran has the capability of weaponizing deadly agents in missile warheads and aerial bombs.

“The Iranian [biological weapons] program has been embedded within Iran’s extensive biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries so as to obscure its activities,” stated the report, made public last month. “The Iranian military has used medical, education, and scientific research organizations for many aspects of BW-related agent procurement, research, and development. Iran has also failed to submit the data declarations called for in the [Biological Weapons Convention].”

Regarding chemical arms, the report said the U.S. government has evidence that “Iran has manufactured and stockpiled blister, blood, and choking chemical agents, and weaponized some of these agents into artillery shells, mortars, rockets, and aerial bombs.”

“We continue to believe that Iran has not acknowledged the full extent of its chemical weapons program, that it has indigenously produced several first-generation [chemical weapons] agents (blood, blister, and choking agents), and that it has the capability to produce traditional nerve agents,” the report said, noting that “the size and composition of any Iranian stockpile is not known.”

Atta’s photo

Congressional investigators looking into the Special Operations Command data-mining activity known as Able Danger are trying to find a woman in California who first came up with a supposed photograph of September 11 terrorist leader Mohamed Atta months before the deadly suicide attacks.

The woman worked for a security contractor that obtained the photo of Atta and other Islamist militants through surveillance of a mosque, said Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who has been looking into the matter.

“There were five cells of al Qaeda that were identified [by Able Danger], including the Brooklyn cell,” Mr. Weldon told us.

The purported photo of Atta was later reproduced on a chart that had the names of up to 60 suspected terrorists that Mr. Weldon says he gave to Stephen J. Hadley in 2001, when he was White House deputy national security adviser.

Frederick Jones, an NSC spokesman, said that Mr. Hadley does not recall ever seeing the chart with the Atta photo, but does not rule out the possibility that he was given the photo by Mr. Weldon.

The photo was purchased from the woman by Orion Scientific Systems Inc., a government contractor that was involved in an early phase of the Able Danger program.

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