Captain Ed notes a new translation of an Iraqi document by Joseph Shahda that indicates the Iraqi military was ordering new mobile laboratories as of late 2002. Ed and his commenters have interesting observations on the document.
These days, most people assume it’s somehow been proven that the mobile labs captured in Iraq during the war had nothing to do with bioweapon production, contrary to what was initially believed. I don’t know, maybe so; but intuitively, I’ve always thought the most common benign explanation for the labs–that they were used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons–bordered on the bizarre. It’s possible, I suppose, that on the eve of war Saddam’s government thought it worthwhile to invest tens of millions of dollars to beef up its weather balloon capacity. But somehow I suspect that the real explanation lies elsewhere. Whether bioweapon production is the right explanation will, one hopes, become clear when more documents have been translated.