May 08, 2008

Why You Won't See the Iranian Weapons We've Captured in Iraq

Starting over a year ago with the discovery of a new kind of roadside bomb—EFPs or explosively-formed projectiles—American commanders in Iraq began believing that Iran was supplying weapons to militants in Iraq. That belief grew as more munitions were captured, including 34 unfired rockets captured on July 12, 2007 that were said to be of Iranian origin.

In recent weeks American forces have claimed to have captured even more Iranian weapons, including those that were new, apparently manufactured in 2008. In addition, Iraqi government forces are said to have captured a significant number of weapons of suspected Iranian manufacture during military options in and around Basra over the past month. On top of the weaponry captured, recently-released information claims that Shiite militiamen were trained by Hezbollah in Iranian terrorist camps near Tehran, and that some of those militants have been captured, and have resided in U.S. military custody for several months providing valuable intelligence.

But if solid physical evidence of Iranian military interference has been captured, then why hasn't that evidence been presented to independent experts for verification? Why hasn't that material been presented to a skeptical world media, still unwilling to believe governmental claims at face value after Saddam Hussein's WMDs turned out to be ghosts?

The answer is both simple and pragmatic: hopes of a diplomatic solution between Iran and Iraq have forestalled the U.S. military press conference displaying captured weaponry first expected in Baghdad over a week ago.

The press conference was delayed in hopes that an Iraqi delegation to Tehran bearing evidence of Iranian weapons captured by U.S. and Iraqi forces in recent fighting could resolve the issue as a matter between the two neighboring states.

Unsurprisingly, Iran has disputed the evidence, and as a result, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered a special committee to compile evidence captured by both American and Iraqi forces. Once the evidence is compiled, it is hoped that this would help inform the committee in putting forth a coherent Iraqi policy on Iranian involvement in smuggling weapons into Iraq. That policy will be presented to the Iranian government in hopes of stopping Iranian smuggling of weapons and preclude a conflict between the two nations, according to U.S. military sources. Iran and Iraq fought a war from 1980-88 that claimed approximately one million lives when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, and the political goals of neither Shia-dominated government would be well-served by a return to conflict.

Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari is urging Iran and the United States to rejoin stalled security talks after U.S. officials described negotiating with Iran "meaningless" without Iran stopping military interference in Iraq, and Tehran accusing the U.S. of "massacring" Iraqis as operations in Baghdad's Sadr City against Shia militias continue. The resumation of talks is presently deemed unlikely, but if the Iraqi committee completes its mission and determines that Iran has in fact been supplying training and weaponry to Shia militias presently fighting against the Iraqi military forces, the Iraqis will have a diplomatic weapon to use against Tehran that may force the Iranian government to stop its suspected supply of weaponry into Iraq, and it's training of Shia militiamen by Hezbollah terrorists and Iran's military.

The diplomatic pressure the Iraqi commission could bring to bear with it's findings could deepen divides in Iran's government between moderates and hardliners. Moderate former President Mohammad Khatami has recently made statements that some are interpreting as an admission that the current hardline regime as supplying weaponry and training to militants in Iraq and elsewhere.

Iran's weapons may be taking the lives of American and Iraqi troops in Iraq right now, but with the Iraqi government's creation of a committee to build an official Iraqi policy position on Iran's interference, Iran's weapons may turn out to be a greater diplomatic weapon for Iraq.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 8, 2008 02:13 PM

It's hard to see how a cone shaped hunk of copper
can take out an MRAP or an Abrams Tank.I see we have one of our own now,it's about the size of a
1LB. coffee can and made of PVC and it can even
work on a ships hull...

Posted by: Gator at May 8, 2008 05:15 PM

EFPs were first used by the Germans in WWII as tank destroyers. Most weapons use a form of EFP in various types to penetrate armor.

Posted by: bill-tb at May 8, 2008 05:22 PM

Good post, Bob

Posted by: John at May 8, 2008 05:35 PM

Gator, here is a good explanation on how an EFP works. Lots of technical jargon, tho, so be prepared to wade through lots of big words.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 8, 2008 06:12 PM

An EFP is formed by turning that copper cone (or disk, or ball) into liquid by significantly/simultaneously compressing and heating it. Liquid copper formed this way is actually more dense than its solid form, but morphing the solid structure into a liquid also provides better penetration into any solid. There's nothing left of the structure of the penetrator to "shatter" or "break". Therefore, it is able to penetrate more quickly and deeper into a solid.

The same can be said for any number of metals that have been used as penetrators including DUP rounds (though, those don't go to liquid form).

I'm posting this on the ask if you've got questions about the physics behind it and I'll respond when I've got more time to craft my words :)

Posted by: Mark at May 8, 2008 06:16 PM

Many thanks!!!

Posted by: Gator at May 8, 2008 11:09 PM

This is all a smoke screen to keep the troops there longer and probably strike Iran before GWB leaves office. Saddam was the bad guy, then Al-queda, then Shia now Iranians. Why would anyone believe that diplomacy is going to work on a country that doesn't honor its own neighbor's soverign rights or signs nuclear proliferation treaties and then backs out of them? Why would anyone trust them even if they agreed to everything that was asked of them? And the more likely scenario is that they dispute everything and then what? Another round of sanctions? Ohhh, that'll hurt at $120 a barrel. This is just foreplay before the US acts militarily....

Posted by: matta at May 9, 2008 06:26 AM

Matta - got take your meds.

Posted by: Dan Irving at May 9, 2008 07:02 AM

Uh, Matta, 90% of Iranians are Shi'a.

That's just one out of many errors in your screed above, but it shows to illustrate just how clueless you are about the whole situation.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 9, 2008 07:21 AM

Dan - OOOHHHH!!! You are sooo witty. If I were you, I'd write that one down and frame it...

C-C-G - Uh, duh. You can't invade a religion, only countries. When was the last time we invaded a Shia-majority country over "evidence" of threats to national security? Iraq isn't even history yet and we are already doomed to repeat it. I mean, come on. We invaded Iraq on the premise that we "thought" Saddam was going to give WMD (nuclear, biological, etc) to terrorists. Iran already has its own terrorist organization, Hezbollah, and is publicly driving towards nuclear capabilities. Israel just sent Syria a big present by digging a very large hole for them where a nuclear-related facility was suspected. Wars don't happen over night, but thru carefully scripted escalations such as this committee to review the evidence and "diplomacy" with a govt that endorses and funds terrorism. This is just the latest step...

Posted by: matta at May 9, 2008 07:47 AM

Ahh, Matta tries lefty strategy #66, changing the topic, with a little bit of #31, the red herring.

Tell the nurse that you're done with the computer so she can take you back to your nice room with the rubber wallpaper.

By the way, here's another clue for you, that I am sure you'll disregard. Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, are all mostly Sunni, as was Saddam Hussein. So in invading Iraq and Afghanistan, we didn't invade Shi'a nations, we invaded Sunni ones.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 9, 2008 08:00 AM

C-C-G - Hate to burst your bubble but Iraq is and was by a vast majority, Shia. Saddam's sect was a minority in the country.

Where did I change the topic? I merely asked what was the point of diplomacy with a country that endorses terrorism???? Hell, we won't have diplomatic relations with Iran, so why do we think that Iraq can trust Iran? Where is the red herring if our own govt doesn't trust Iran?

And I'm not confusing the issue, merely showing how our govt is creating the new "boogieman". As for your "clue", it goes to my original point. Originally, the rationale for invading was that Saddam and Al-queda were working together at some level. The fact that they were the same sect of Islam was secondary but a supporting fact. Here we have the same scenario only now its Shia-oriented groups that are now the "threat" facing us so we can't leave.

BTW, keep up the name calling, the stereotyping and silly childish phrases. It only demonstrates you have zero points to make. You don't have to say I'm right, just keep bringing the insults. Its the same thing...

Posted by: matta at May 9, 2008 08:22 AM

Matta,naw you don't matta, never have never will!!

Posted by: Gator at May 9, 2008 08:38 AM

How is it "creating a new boogeyman" if the country in question does indeed support international terrorism, violates its neighbor's soverign rights and is violating the NPT?

It seems that would just be acknowledging reality.

Posted by: Pablo at May 9, 2008 09:18 AM

Pablo - You are right, Iran has been sponsoring terrrorism for a long time. I'm not saying it wasn't reality. I said it would become the "new" rationale for the troops staying, regardless of what the Iraq govt does in terms of progress politically or otherwise. It will be the new "national" threat to our security. The new thing to be afraid of. Look at the rhetoric now coming out of the WH. It used to be that GWB's talking points were Al-queda, talliban, Saddam. Now its Shia, Iran, Hezbolah. I believe GWB will take a swing at Iran before he leaves office. This diplomacy shtic is to CYA himself cause obviously he can't open diplomatic relations himself...

Gator - Oh, no! Not another tired cliche?!?!? Thanks for contributing...

Posted by: pablo at May 9, 2008 09:39 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 05/09/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Posted by: David M at May 9, 2008 09:58 AM
The answer is both simple and pragmatic: hopes of a diplomatic solution between Iran and Iraq have forestalled the U.S. military press conference displaying captured weaponry first expected in Baghdad over a week ago.

Sure, the world would be better off without the Iranian regime, but I would suggest there's another, simpler answer to your question.

I would note that on issues of missing and/or sketchy evidence, you've ignored Occam's razor before:

And we wonder why the much vaunted UN Weapon Inspectors didn't find the WMDs that every major intelligence agency in the world says were in Iraq... They were apparently more interested in getting bombed than finding bombs.
Posted by: cactus at May 9, 2008 10:04 AM

very interesting post Matta. In one you admit that Iran supports terrorist and is seeking Nuclear weapons and cant be Trusted and then in another argue that we are creating a Boogieman. Which i can only take as meaning that we are creating a fictional character that is not really a threat.

So which is it? Is Iran a threat or not? If they are then what do YOU suppose/support we do about it? You seem to be wanting both ways, but you can have it that way.

Also, no wants to invade Iran. The point is to put pressure on Iran to make them stop. Which you pointed out cant be trusted and i think we all agree but it has to be done to build a case. Once all efforts have beed exhausted, ie asking them to stop, letting Iraq deal with them, present evidence to U.N. Then we can take more drastic actions. Bolton suggest Bombing their training camp...may be the right thing to do.

As far as Muslim sects goes, it doesnt really matter what they are. If they are attacking Am. or our friends then they are an enemy. In the middle east politics that can change with the wind. It only shows Am willingness to forgive and help them grow into a democracy.

Posted by: Scot J at May 9, 2008 10:07 AM

Scot - To me there is a difference in between a threat and the boogieman. There are threats all over the world, doesn't mean we occupy other countries to deal with them. "Boogiemen" are when fear of those threats are used to rationalize reasons as opposed to facts. What are we afraid of the Iranians doing?? The Iranian threat is something we all know very well. They fund terrorism. They want Israel wiped off the earth. Old news. Is Iran going to invade Iraq if we leave? I doubt it, given they saw how the international community stomped a mud hole in Saddam for taking Kuwait and other ME countries like Saudia Arabia will take severe issue with that. Could they help topple the govt. Sure, but that could happen anytime from within just as easily or 2 decades down the road when 2 sheiks decide to fight over a camel race. Could they strongly influence the Iraqi politics? Probably. But then a large majority of the population has similar back ground to Iranians so its not unexpected that the populations would want similar things. Could they become a haven for terrorists? Maybe, but that's kind of moot given that Syria and Iran on either side of Iraq actively fund and support terrorist organizations already...

So like you said, the US is building a case to attack Iran and will use the "fear" of terrorism, arms smuggling, military training, WMD, nuclear, etc as rationale for the pre-emptive attacks. It won't be long before we hear GWB or someone say, "we can't wait for the mushroom cloud".

Another saying in justifying the "boogieman" is real is when you tried things like bringing "diplomatic pressure". Iran has been under diplomatic and trade sanctions for decades. So now their weak-kneed sister country is going to come over and ask them pretty please to stop terrorizing us and they will just stop?? Even if they did, would we believe them? This whole thing is just so GWB can CYA hiself later...

Posted by: matta at May 9, 2008 10:48 AM
"Boogiemen" are when fear of those threats are used to rationalize reasons as opposed to facts.

But you've noted that those threats are factual, have you not? Shouldn't facts be reasons, or reasons be based on facts? If there's a man with a gun kicking down my door screaming "I'm going to kill every one of you!" is he a boogeyman that motivates me to get my own gun? That doesn't make any sense.

Posted by: Pablo at May 9, 2008 11:38 AM

These people (IRAN) have been shouting "DEATH TO AMERICA" for thirty years. They have had all these years to reach their goal. Ever think they might be ready? I think we (the USA) needs to do what should have been done right after 9-11-2001.



Posted by: Stag at May 9, 2008 01:30 PM

The sooner Tehran becomes a parking lot the sooner terrorism will end. There are those who can never admit nor acknowledge the evil that exists in those who sponsor terrorism. They can only castigate America. But then they have never lived overseas nor experienced the humanity of these governments nor their good works. Little wonder these wingnuts continue to stay in the USA rather than live in these paradises.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at May 9, 2008 04:23 PM

matta leaves out the small detail of Iranian weapons being used to kill American soldiers in Iraq from the summary of Iranian activities. Why should we put up with that crap?

Posted by: daleyrocks at May 9, 2008 05:35 PM

Daley, Matta apparently wants to let Iran get away with killing Americans by proxy. That speaks volumes about his character--or lack thereof.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 9, 2008 05:57 PM

EFPs exist. They weren't 'In Country' until around 2005. From the end of 2003 til the introduction of them, the majority of the vehicles hit and destroyed by IEDs were totally destroyed, as the Insurgents were using leftover 155/102/105mm artillery rounds on unarmored M998 HMMWVs and the variants that thereof. The introduction of the M1114 and XM1151 and Uparmored variants were proven to be much more resiliant to these improvised artllery shells.

Back when they did manage to get a truck, usually it was blown to scrap metal... as in making my job here in Kuwait sort of like "CSI" to identify both it and the crews.

Nowadays they show up here with neat little holes burned right through the armor... most impressive actually... seeing a 3 to 4 inch hole burned clean through 5 to 8 inches of reinforced X Armor steel. The problem is and the depressing fact is usually these are almost ALWAYS fatal strikes... I can tell b/c we have to steamclean out the human remains... and trust me, there isn't usually much left of a person after being hit with a 10,000 degree cone of liquid metal travelling at 4 times the speed of sound...

Don't tell me that they are making these advance 'toys' themselvse... they never had them til the Iranian or SOMEONE started to supply them. I'm seen the evidence firsthand.

Posted by: Big Country at May 10, 2008 08:48 AM

Thanks for the first hand report, Big Country, and for your service to our nation.

Unfortunately, it won't convince Matta. See, to him, and those like him, you're part of the neocon war machine, and as such, you're biased. The only way you can prove yourself unbiased (to Matta, at least) is to denounce the war and everything you have done in relation to the war. The fact that you won't do that is proof that you want more war--to him.

Nice vicious cycle there, and it keeps Matta and his buddies from having to actually do any thinking.

Posted by: C-C-G at May 10, 2008 10:30 AM

Personally, I was hoping the US and Iraqi military were saving them to be returned to sender enmass. Perhaps to one of the centrafuge sites within Iran.

Posted by: joated at May 10, 2008 03:27 PM

C-C-G - You have some serious fantasy vs. reality issues. I never said anything one way or the other about the war but because I don't bow down and pay homage to the altar of CY, I MUST be anti-war. I started out this whole post disagreeing with CY's assessment that there are "hopes for a diplomatic solution" with Iran. I don't see any reason for using diplomacy with Iran to ask them to stop infiltrating, arming and training Shia groups in Iraq. I'm the one who said that it was a pointless excercise because they can't be trusted. Keep slinging the lame insults and non-issues...

Pablo - Didn't say they weren't a threat, but then so is China and Russia and countless others. It comes with the territory of being the only super power left on the planet as other countries will percieve us as a threat. But neither China or Russia is "kicking down the door" and for that matter neither is Iran. That's a boogieman statement intended to create fear. Iran isn't kicking down anyone's door. Where are the mobilized armies? Where are the divisions doing war games? Are they funding low level insurrection and terrorism? Yes, but then so is every country over there. Its how the game is played. Hell, Israel funds groups to do the same thing and we have done it ourselves in the past. Given how the WH has spinned previous "evidence" of threats and the VP's policy of 1% doctrine, shouldn't we the people consider what the WH agenda is or the goals of our govt WRT Iran?

As far as I'm concerned, we treat the Iranian interference in Iraq like Al-queda's interference in Iraq. When you find them on the ground doing something obvious, kill or capture them. If you find a base of operations, regardless or where it is, destroy it. The whole diplomacy thing is simply a ruse to try and elevate the situation to footing with the rationales for invading Iraq and Afganistan.

Posted by: matta at May 12, 2008 07:16 AM

"EFPs were first used by the Germans in WWII as tank destroyers. Most weapons use a form of EFP in various types to penetrate armor."

Please check your history. You are thinking of a shape charge (huge difference).

Yes EFPs have been around for a long while. But you are mistaken as to where they started out.

The penetration capabilities of EFPs are much more impressive than that of shape charges, and EFPs have the benefit of working with stand off.

Posted by: Eric at May 12, 2008 09:27 PM

"An EFP is formed by turning that copper cone (or disk, or ball) into liquid by significantly/simultaneously compressing and heating it. Liquid copper formed this way is actually more dense than its solid form, but morphing the solid structure into a liquid also provides better penetration into any solid. There's nothing left of the structure of the penetrator to "shatter" or "break". Therefore, it is able to penetrate more quickly and deeper into a solid."

Once again you are thinking of a shape charge. EFPs do not turn the copper disk into molten metal. They turn it into a penetrator.

Go ahead and google it. For some reason I can not post my source here.

Posted by: Eric at May 12, 2008 09:31 PM