Friday, February 16, 2007

"Explosively formed penetrators" of Mass Destruction

The case the Bush White House is building against Iran based on EFPs ("explosively formed penetrators") hit an IED today. Supposedly, according to the NY Times report, "the manufacture of the key metal components required sophisticated machinery, raw material and expertise that American intelligence agencies do not believe can be found in Iraq."

Andrew Cockburn, writing in an L.A. Times op-ed suggests otherwise:
PRESIDENT BUSH HAS now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators — EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq — are made in Iran and exported to Iraq. But in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

The truth is that EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."
Clearly, it will take a multi-billion dollar nuclear strike against Iran to end the threat posed by Baghdad machine shops.

When did these devices stop being called "shaped charges"? Did SCs just not have that right ring and cadence for the Mighty Wurlitzer?

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