Report: Iraq Being Plundered
A US newspaper reports that military
equipment and oil rig parts are being smuggled out of Iraq in a scale
tantamount to looting.
systematically plundering the country," John Hamre, of the
Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, was quoted
as saying by the New York Times on Friday.
While occupation authorities have approved
the removal of scrap metal from Iraq, including thousands of damaged Iraqi
tanks, the newspaper said material seen in scrap yards in neighbouring
Jordan include new material from Iraq's civil infrastructure.
Oil rigs and water plants were being
stripped of equipment, which then were being carted out of Iraq.
One hundred semitrailers loaded with what
is billed as scrap metal arrive in Jordan every day from Iraq bearing
legitimate scrap metal, but also inestimable amounts of plundered material,
said the paper.
The daily said one of its reporters saw
"piles of valuable copper and aluminum ingots and bars, large stacks of
steel rods and water piper and giant flanges for oil equipment, all in
nearly mint condition, as well as chopped-up railroad boxcars, huge numbers
of shattered Iraqi tanks and even beer kegs marked with the words "Iraqi
The head of the UN International Atomic
Energy Agency's verification office in Iraq, Jacques Baute, told the
newspaper that satellite photographs the agency uses to monitor hundreds of
military-industrial sites for the removal of sensitive material show
Entire buildings and complexes of as many
as a dozen buildings have vanished from the photographs, he said.
"We see sites that
have totally been cleaned out," he said.
"There is a gigantic
salvage operation, stripping of anything of perceived value out of the
country," said Hamre.
Sam Whitfield, a spokesman for the
Coalition Provisional Authority, however, said the occupation forces had put
a stop to widespread looting in Iraq.
But a Jordanian engineer at a scrap-yard in
Jordan, pointed to items that did not look like scrap at all.
He indicated five-meter long bars of carbon
steel, water pipes and large falanges he identified as oil-well equipment.
"It's still new and worth a lot," Muhammad
source: Al Jazeera - 29 May, 2004