A collection of deadly weapons belonging to deceased Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been found in Syria, according to a new report from the United Nations.
U.N. weapons inspectors visiting Syria last month reportedly discovered the cache inside a warehouse outside Syria’s capital, Damascus. Documents found at the warehouse included an invoice for $2 million worth of weapons paid by Hussein’s government in February 2003.
The weapons, however, turned out to be antiques, ranging from Ottoman daggers, muskets, blunderbusses and Winchester rifles to naval cannons and World War I-era Mauser and Luger pistols. The weapons, some of which dated as far back as the mid-1700s, were earmarked for an antique weapons exhibit at the Iraq National History Museum in Baghdad.
The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and overthrew Hussein’s government under the belief that it possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), though the WMDs were not found. U.S. officials have since admitted that it had bad intelligence about Iraq’s WMDs and chemical weapons program.
The U.N. report was met with elation from many neoconservatives still seizing any evidence to justify the costly Iraq War, which ended last year.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News that the U.N. report confirmed that the Bush Administration was correct about Iraq.
“I feel vindicated right now because I told everyone that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “The report says Saddam Hussein purchased Howitzers and Napoleon cannons, which as we know killed hundreds to thousands of Americans during the Civil War. So just imagine what Saddam could have done with them.”
“I’d say this proves the war in Iraq was well worth it,” wrote Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. “The usual naysayers on the Left will claim it wasn’t worth spending billions of dollars in Iraq just to find $2 million worth of weapons in a completely different country. But can you really put a price on saving a human life, especially when it’s an American one?”
A spokesman for Iraq’s government, Masgouf Al-Kebabi, confirmed that Hussein had purchased the weapons, which were scheduled to be shipped to Iraq in April 2003, two weeks after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began. But he suggested that they didn’t constitute a major threat to any nation, including the United States.
“These are not Weapons of Mass Destruction; more like rusting, useless junk,” Al-Kebabi said. “Even the average insurgent here is better equipped than this.
“We also can’t display them since our museum was shut down for security reasons.”
The U.N. did not say what would happen to Hussein’s antique weapons, though Iraqi officials indicated that the weapons might be sold to collectors in Europe and the United States in order to pay “for various insurgency-related expenses at home.”