Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Iraqi WMD: the Minsk connection

As the row over the use of intelligence to justify war against Iraq rumbles on, Red Pepper can reveal that it too was approached with dubious information before the publication of the first 'dodgy dossier' in September 2002.

July 1, 2003
2 min read

Two days before Tony Blair presented that paper to the Commons, this journalist was ear-wigged by a self-styled East European diplomat while trying to interview a Kurdish exile in a Turkish airport.

“Dennis” was returning from Siloppie, a town sealed off by the Turkish military, where he had overseen the import of industrial and agricultural vehicles into Iraq under the UN’s oil-for-food programme, he said.

“You know, they’ll never find the weapons of mass destruction,” he whispered conspiratorially. ‘they’ve been loaded onto 10 mobile laboratories that are being driven around all day. Nobody knows where they are at any given time, no-one at all.”

Dennis would know. His nominal employer was really a front for the Belarusian government, he said, and his salary was paid out of Iraq’s Banque National de Paris account at the UN in New York.

His fellow employees in Baghdad were facing difficulties, but he didn’t ask questions because the less he knew, the safer he would be. I began to feel the same way.

Until the next day, when The Observer reported allegations by former UN weapons inspector Tim McCarthy that Iraqi deals with a tractor factory in the Belarussian capital Minsk were a cover for exporting technology to help manufacture nuclear weapons.

Then on September 24, Blair’s WMD paper officially launched the story of mobile vehicles ferrying biological and chemical weapons around the Iraqi countryside.

That dossier is currently subject to a Foreign Affairs Select Committee inquiry, but sadly Dennis is unavailable to help unravel its mysteries. The company he said he worked for doesn’t exist, the telephone number he gave doesn’t work and the email address he offered returns all mail. He could have been a great “security source”, except that the only part of his story to hold up 10 months later, is that Iraq’s WMD have still not been found.


Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.

Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani

Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week

A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes

Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns