The Al Qaqaa Video

ABC is saying that it’s KSTP affiliates’ video from of April 18, 2003 proves that the HMX and RDX were still in the Al Qaqaa facility on that date. Here’s the KSTP report transcript and pictures. I’ve watched it over and over, and I just don’t see there proof.

In a new report on the KSTP site the mention that they SAW IAEA seals, but (and it’s a very important but) they do not claim that their camera crews went into those IAEA sealed storage areas. The video appears to be from areas secured by padlocks, and that DO NOT have IAEA seals.

The short bit of video that shows 15 to 20 cannister drum containers, which is probably what ABC’s people are telling them is proof the the HMX and RDX was filmed. I captured a better picture from the video.


The markings on the container are Hazard Materials Class 1 (Explosives), Division 1 (Mass Explosion Hazard), and Compatibility Group D (Secondary detonating explosive substances). You can see the placards used to transport these items here.

I wondered if the 239 was significant – perhaps an indication of the contents. It doesn’t appear to be based on the numbering systems used for the transport of dangerous goods [if you search for 239 it has to have a type in the fourth column of 1.1D to match]. In fact the only reference to the handwritten number on the container (239) is from 1991 Austrailian regulations

239 NITROSTARCH, dry or wetted with less than 20% water, by mass UN0146 1.1D

Of course that’s probably not what that number means, but the NITROSTARCH is a class 1.1D explosive, which matches the label.

The UN number for HMX is 0226, for RDX it is 0072, and for PETN it is 0150. None of those numbers match any form of the visible number string.

In all probability the hand written number is an inventory number or something like that. It is not an indication of contents.

So what’s in the container? If you did a search of Orange Book data, you’d find 85 separate items that are classified as 1.1D.

So how were ABC’s experts able to identify the contents of the containers solely by viewing the tape? It does make you wonder…

ABC’s report has the following section:

The barrels were found inside sealed bunkers, which American soldiers are seen on the videotape cutting through. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency sealed the bunkers where the explosives were kept just before the war began.

“The seal’s critical,” Albright said. “The fact that there’s a photo of what looks like an IAEA seal means that what’s behind those doors is HMX. They only sealed bunkers that had HMX in them.”That IAEA seal is in this KSTP report. If you read it carefully, and look at the pictures, they don’t claim they broke that seal.

A 5 Eyewitness News crew in Iraq may have been just a door away from materials that could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. The evidence is in videotape shot by Reporter Dean Staley and Photographer Joe Caffrey at or near the Al Qaqaa munitions facility.

The video shows a cable locking a door shut. That cable is connected by a copper colored seal.In fact the don’t claim they went in the IAEA sealed facility.

Let me recap:

  1. The containers KSTP filmed could contain any number of items that were not HMX or RDX.

  2. They containers were filmed, as best as I can tell from the available evidence, in an area that was not sealed by the IAEA.

Update: More from Paul, and at Powerline.

Some people will believe anything
Ted Koppel's Closing Thoughts


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