About that Phosogene

When news outlets reported that a chemical weapons agent named phosogene was found in a storage facility maintained by UNMOVIC–the UN weapons inspection team for Iraq–the regular herd of UN bashers used this seemingly embarrassing story to advance their own anti-UN agenda.

Take Claudia Rosett:

[t]here is, of course, much more to the UNMOVIC story itself. Along with such questions as who carried phosgene into the U.S., and then into the UNMOVIC office in midtown Manhattan, and how, I keep wondering what on earth these weapons inspectors for Iraq have been doing for most of the past decade?


Whatever else this phosgene flap is about, it’s one more glaring example of why it’s insane to give any more money to the UN before demanding a full, independent stock-taking that would tell us, for the first time ever, what they’re really doing with what they’ve already got.

Of course, today we learn the answer to Rosett’s first question about who brought the phosogene to New York: no one. The “chemical agent” was really just an over the counter commercial cleaner.

The answer to Rosett’s second question about what UNMOVIC has been up to since the invasion of Iraq is easily researchable. UNMOVIC, you see, has to brief the Security Council quarterly. And in its last report [pdf] to the Security Council before UNMOVIC’s mandate was terminated in June, we learned that UNMOVIC had 34 staffers, including some of the world’s foremost experts on WMD detection. Among other things, these experts have been busy briefing the US government on bio-weapons detection systems, conducting multiple weapons inspection training courses throughout the world, and monitoring the use of chemical agents in terrorist attacks in Iraq. So, contra Rosett it would seem that in the past five years since the invasion of Iraq, UNMOVIC had, in fact, found things to do.