ROMNEY'S SPEAKERS SPEAK. I called up Romney's press office to get clarification on the governor's remarks. I have never before gotten to watch such pure, undistilled, spin. It was something of a joy to behold. When Romney said "if Saddam Hussein had opened his country to IAEA inspectors and they'd gone in and found that there were no weapons," he didn't mean that the inspectors didn't go in and find that there was no evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program; he was instead offering a near-metaphysical commentary on Saddam's intentionality throughout the whole process. Because Saddam did not welcome them with joy in his heart and transparency on his lips, they weren't actually there. We then got into an argument over whether we should trust Dick Cheney's judgment on the access offered to the IAEA inspectors or the IAEA inspectors' judgment on their own access. All in all, a fruitful exchange. And just for the record, here's what Mohammed el-Baradei reported on March 7, 2003:

One, there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.

Second, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.

Three, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuge out of the aluminum tubes in question.

Fourth, although we are still reviewing issues related to magnets and magnet-production, there is no indication to date that Iraq imported magnets for use in centrifuge enrichment program.

As I stated above, the IAEA will naturally continue further to scrutinize and investigate all of the above issues.

After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.[...]

I should note that in the past three weeks, possibly as a result of ever-increasing pressure by the international community, Iraq has been forthcoming in its cooperation, particularly with regard to the conduct of private interviews and in making available evidence that could contribute to the resolution of matters of IAEA concern.

--Ezra Klein