Reality Check: Did the US Steal Gold and Oil from Iraq?!

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Did the US steal tens of trillions of dollars worth of gold and oil from Iraq?

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

Claim : United States Stole Gold + Oil From Iraq!

There conspiracy theory keeps going around, claiming that the United States stole Iraqi gold and oil, specifically 20 TRILLION dollars in gold and 30 TRILLION dollars worth of oil.

These posts and articles are usually backed up by these pictures of American soldiers posing with Iraqi gold bars, and an Al Jazeera news report.

30 trillion worth of Oil & 20 trillion in gold was stolen in the invasion on Iraq

Remember Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in 9/11

But his countries [sic] wealth was looted nevertheless

Then they went to Afghanistan to secure the poppy fields and lithium mines by force.

Read more : Did US Government Steal 7 Billion Dollars From Afghanistan?!

Fact Check : United States Stole Gold & Oil From Iraq?!The United States Stole Iraqi Gold & Oil? - The Rojak Pot

Truth : US Did NOT Steal Gold + Oil From Iraq At All!

Here is a summary for those who don’t need the full details :

  • It is NOT POSSIBLE for the US to steal $30 trillion worth of Iraqi oil, because Iraq did not have that much oil.
  • It would take the Iraqis 685 years to extract $30 trillion worth of oil!
  • It is NOT POSSIBLE for the US to steal $20 trillion worth of Iraqi gold, because humans have only mined $9.2 trillion worth of gold up to 2019.
  • It would take the WORLD another 90 years of mining gold at high gold prices to hit $20 trillion.
  • Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. Neither was he involved in the 9/11 attacks.
  • The Americans invaded Iraq AFTER they invaded Afghanistan… not the other way around.
  • The US only discovered deposits of lithium and other minerals 5 years AFTER invading Afghanistan.
  • As of 2019, there are still no lithium mines in Afghanistan
  • The missing money in the Al Jazeera report was actually part of a $20 billion contribution to Iraq from the United States

Claim #1 : 30 Trillion Worth Of Oil Was Stolen

Verdict : Mostly false. The United States did not steal Iraqi oil. They did lose track of 8.7 billion dollars worth of Iraqi funds though.

Details : After the invasion of Iraq concluded, Iraqi oil was sold to help fund the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI).

Other sources of funds include surplus funds (about USD 10 billion) from the UN Oil-For-Food Program, and the sale of seized Iraqi assets. The United States did not truck away Iraqi oil, as claimed.

In July 2010, the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) discovered that the US Department of Defense could not account properly for USD 8.7 billion of DFI funds.

This led the Iraqi Parliament to request the United Nation’s help in demanding that the US return $17 billion of “oil money” that it said was stolen from the Iraqi people :

All the indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, (and) that it was about $17 billion.Our committee decided to send this issue to you … to look into it and restore the stolen money.

Iraqi oil tankers
Stealing $30 trillion worth of oil would require 1.7 billion oil trucks, or 46,000 of these trucks every day for 100 years!

There is no evidence that the unaccounted money was repatriated to the United States, or officially taken by the United States.

Even assuming that it was not poor accounting and all of the USD 8.7 billion was truly stolen, that is a far cry (0.029%) from the USD 30 trillion the conspiracy theory claimed was stolen.

It is also rendered ludicrous by the fact that the United States spent USD 60 billion in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Also consider the fact that Iraqi oil production only reached 2 million barrels per day in 2007. Assuming an average sale price of USD 60 per barrel, it would take them 685 years to sell enough oil to make USD 30 trillion.

Claim #2 : 20 Trillion Worth Of Iraqi Gold Was Stolen

Verdict : False. The United States did not steal Iraqi gold. The Iraqi gold bars (as well as currency and other valuables) were transported to Kuwait to be analysed for their purity and value, before they were sent to the Central Iraqi Treasury.

Details : Do you recognise this man? He’s Lt. Col. Scott Schmidt, who was in charge of the 230th Finance Battalion. The battalion’s job was to seize Iraqi assets like currency, gold bars and other valuables.

The United States Stole Iraqi Gold & Oil? - The Rojak Pot
Lt. Col. Scott Schmidt | Credit : Scott Schmidt, Kearney Hub

Those assets were transported to the US Army’s headquarters in Kuwait where they were examined by the Secret Service and/or the US Department of Treasury to determine their authenticity and value. The assets were then returned to the Central Iraqi Treasury or the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI).

In 2003, Iraq had under 6 tonnes of gold reserves, worth less than USD 70 million. So how can the United States possibly steal 20 trillion dollars worth of gold from Iraq? USD 20 trillion worth of gold would weigh at least 1,714,285 tonnes in 2003.

Guess how much gold mankind has ever mined in history? Only 190,040 tonnes as of 2019 – which is 11% of what the conspiracy theory claims the United States stole from Iraq.

As of October 2019, the value of all the gold in the world was just USD 9.2 trillion – 46% of what the conspiracy theory claims the United States stole from Iraq… and that’s only because gold prices have gone up considerably.

Even with the much higher gold price, it would take an additional 90 years of mining gold before the entire world has USD 20 trillion worth of gold for the US to steal.

Claim #3 : Saddam Had No Weapons Of Mass Destruction & Was Not Involved In 9/11

Verdict : True. After US-led forces occupied Iraq, they couldn’t find any weapon of mass destruction. The Iraq Survey Group finally concluded that Iraq ended its WMD programs in 1991.

To justify their invasion, the Bush Administration regularly implied a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks.

However, they never declared outright that Iraq was directly or indirectly responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Needless to say, history has proven that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis were not involved in the September 11 attack.

The Fall of Saddam Hussein's statue

Claim #4 : After Invading Iraq, The Americans Invaded Afghanistan

Verdict : False. The Americans invaded Afghanistan before they invaded Iraq.

Details : The United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the United Kingdom, invading Afghanistan in October 2001.

Only in March 2003 did the Americans invade Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Claim #5 : Americans Invaded Afghanistan To Secure Poppy Fields & Lithium Mines

Verdict : False. The Americans invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden to the United States, and expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. The massive lithium deposit in Afghanistan was only discovered 6 years later in 2007.

Details : Poppy has been cultivated in Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion in 1979, as a means to fund the Mujahideen.

If the Americans were interested in the opium trade, President Reagan wouldn’t have declared the War on Drugs on the 14th of October, 1982. They also would have stuck around after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989.

The Americans did not invade Afghanistan until the September 11 attacks forced them to deal aggressively with the al-Qaeda threat.

They invaded Afghanistan on the 7th of October 2001, after the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden to the United States, and expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan.

The claims of lithium mines was based on a 2007 US Geological Survey report. It revealed that Afghanistan has the world’s largest reserves of lithium, as well as huge deposits of iron, gold, cobalt, copper and other valuable minerals.

US Geological Survey Afghanistan map

The US Geological Survey only began the effort with aerial surveys in 2006 before conducting a more sophisticated survey in 2007 that resulted in the report.

However, the report never came to the attention of both the American and Afghan governments until more than two years later.

In 2009, a Pentagon task force that created business development programs in Iraq was transferred to Afghanistan. They stumbled upon the geological data, and brought in mining experts to check and validate the data. Only in 2010 was the importance of the 2007 report revealed.

Since the survey was only initiated in 2006, five years after the Americans invaded Afghanistan, it is temporally impossible for the unknown lithium deposits to be the “real reason” for the invasion of Afghanistan.

As of 2019, there is still no lithium mine in Afghanistan. In fact, none of the new mineral reserves discovered in the 2007 USGS report has yet been mined.

What About Al Jazeera Report On Missing Gold & Oil In Iraq?

The conspiracy theory actually includes this screenshot of an Al Jazeera news report that purportedly shows them reporting on “Iraq’s Missing Wealth“.

The United States Stole Iraqi Gold & Oil? - The Rojak Pot

Well, that was from a June 2011 Al Jazeera news report, which you can view here :

As you can see, Al Jazeera never claimed that the United States stole Iraqi gold or oil. In fact,the missing money originated from the United States.

The Bush Administration sent USD 20 billion in funds to Iraqi ministries in 2004. Of those funds, USD 6.6 billion could not be accounted for due to missing documents.

Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi Parliament Speaker, disputed the figure in 2011, arguing that the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI) lost USD 18.7 billion.

No matter whether the unaccounted funds is really USD 18.7 billion or just USD 6.6 billion, they are far smaller than the absurd claim that the United States looted USD 20 trillion of Iraqi gold and USD 30 trillion of Iraqi oil.

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Dr. Adrian Wong

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