From Yahoo News:

Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons are disappearing from Iraq but neither Baghdad nor Washington appears to have noticed, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported on Monday.

Satellite imagery shows that entire buildings in Iraq have been dismantled. They once housed high-precision equipment that could help a government or terror group make nuclear bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to the U.N. Security Council. Equipment and materials helpful in making bombs also have been removed from open storage areas in Iraq and disappeared without a trace, according to the satellite pictures, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said.

While some military goods that disappeared from Iraq after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, including missile engines, later turned up in scrap yards in the Middle East and Europe, none of the equipment or material known to the IAEA as potentially useful in making nuclear bombs has turned up yet, ElBaradei said. The equipment — including high-precision milling and turning machines and electron-beam welders — and materials — such as high-strength aluminum — were tagged by the IAEA years ago, as part of the watchdog agency’s shutdown of Iraq’s nuclear program. U.N. inspectors then monitored the sites until their evacuation from Iraq just before the war.

The United States barred the inspectors’ return after the war, preventing the IAEA from keeping tabs on the equipment and materials up to the present day. Under anti-proliferation agreements, the U.S. occupation authorities who administered Iraq until June, and then the Iraqi interim government that took power at the end of June, would have to inform the IAEA if they moved or exported any of that material or equipment.

But no such reports have been received since the invasion, officials of the watchdog agency said…

…A new CIA report last week by chief U.S. weapons investigator Charles Duelfer made clear, however, that Saddam had all but given up on his nuclear program after the first Gulf War in 1991. ElBaradei, whose agency dismantled Iraq’s nuclear arms program over a decade ago, drew similar conclusions to the Duelfer report well before the March 2003 invasion.

So why all the fuss now? Either Saddam had “Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons” or he did not. Which is it?

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