We discussed Iraq's security situation in our global phone-in programme, Talking Point.
Nearly 350 tons of conventional explosives have vanished from a former military complex in Iraq, according to the UN's nuclear watchdog.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was told by Iraqi authorities that the explosives were taken after last year's invasion.
So far the Pentagon is unable to account for the missing material.
However the Iraq Survey Group, a US body which has been hunting for Iraqi weapons and programmes, says one possible explanation is that the facility was empty before US-led forces arrived.
Does the news of the missing explosives worry you? Could it influence the US presidential election? Can the violence in Iraq be brought under control? Will the country be safe enough to hold elections in January?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The missing 350 tons of explosives is proof that the world is not a safer place because of the invasion of Iraq. This is further proof that Bush's assertion that the world is safer is just pure rhetoric.
Ian, Wilmington, NC, USA
Money will determine how long the USA stays in Iraq, nothing else. It does not matter who wins the election, next week. Bush and his staff thought the war would last three months. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should be fired. The Coalition forces look like the crusaders of medieval times holed up in their compounds/castles. They are not spreading democracy.
Robert, Toronto, Canada
How can 350 tons of explosives just vanish? This is the on going saga of the mess in Iraq, and its probably only just starting...
Emily, Montpellier, France
To those people who say that the situation was worse under Saddam and use this as a justification for continuing the current campaign. How easily you forget that it was Western countries and their agencies who helped to keep Saddam in power and supplied him with the weapons he used to suppress and murder his fellow citizens. The time is now right for Bush and Blair to admit that they have got it wrong. They should go cap-in-hand to the UN and seek support for a UN force to be deployed to help resolve the situation. A UN force at least has the chance of gaining support from countries totally opposed to the current illegal occupation.
Dave Howie, Scotland
Presumably the USA didn't bother guarding the Al-Qaeda facility because they banked Saddam's payment for the explosives years ago.
Chris B, Bedford, UK
As we enter our final week before the US elections I am thankful to be able to read reports and commentary from the BBC. Our US media is completely saturated with self-serving patriotism and corporate bias. The facts that are undeniable are that our leaders started something in Iraq that everyone else in the world knew was wrong and our country is getting imbedded deeper in the Iraqi mire every day.
Myself and a great many of my fellow countrymen are embarrassed and shamed by the way our president has acted without our informed consent. Hopefully enough truth, from unbiased sources such as yours, has made it through the thick cloud of patriotic sabre rattling so Americans will see that we must seek a path towards peace and a more cooperative world with solutions other than military domination. We have spent far too much time trying to "treat" the symptoms of unrest and anger in the world and have thus far ignored the root causes of the hatred and distrust aimed at our country! . We are a nation of largely good and loving people who, I fear, have been led astray by the political guardians of corporate greed.
Thomas Firth, Jackson, MI USA
The missing explosives is another military disaster, courtesy of GW Bush. There is no hope unless he is thrown out on November 2nd. And Mr. Blair has put troops directly in harms way, once again following bad judgement.
Mrs. D. Stanley, Ireland
When the (continental) Europe and others tried to caution modern explorers and conquerors, we were told to mind our business. Somebody with such simple mind can not be responsible for single world's superpower policy. I hope, this will be realized at the first instance by American citizens for the well being of us all.
Petr Markvart, Prague, Czech Republic
The coalition approach in Iraq has been compared to surgery. Unfortunately, this type of surgery seems to disregard entire systems. It is as if this surgeon ignored the circulatory or respiratory system only after the body goes into shock to say that, "Hey, sometimes freedom is messy." What's happening in Iraq is like trying to have heart, stomach and brain surgery simultaneously on an unsure and somewhat rebellious patient. Doctor knows best?
Matthew Houston, San Marcos, Texas
Bush and Blair believe 'democracy' is the only answer in the Middle East. Consider the Palestinian Territories: if a vote was held on the West Bank and Gaza strip today, Hamas would win hands down. Unfortunately, Bush sincerely believes he is doing God's will. The not so funny thing is the insurgents believe the same for them.
Willy B, Missoula Montana USA
I am ashamed of my country for starting this war and bringing so much death and destruction to the Iraqis. I am proud to say I live in California where we do not support this war nor this president. JP
James Perry, Laguna Niguel USA
If the probable outcome was not so tragic, the theft of 350-plus tons of highly explosive material would actually be rather hilarious. The ones to pity most are the soldiers and citizens of Iraq who are going to pay an even heavier price for the folly that seized both Bush and Blair. Shall they ever be made accountable for their horrendous mistakes? True democracy demands it!
Anne D, Munich, Germany
This probably explains where the insurgents are getting their explosives from. So much for improving matters by toppling Saddam. We seem to have an even worse situation now than when he was in power! At least then we knew where all this dangerous stuff was, and he wasn't about to go letting anarchists get hold of it.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
A lot of correspondents seem to think that getting the US out of Iraq would lead to chaos - well yes, it will, if nobody fills the void. What America needs to do is hand over control to an organisation which can be trusted, such as Nato or the EU, which can then police the area properly and without resorting to bully-boy tactics which will only encourage further insurgency. I would imagine it's as clear to the Iraqis as it is to everyone else - the US only has its own interests in mind in the current situation. The sooner we prise their grubby little mitts off Iraq, the sooner we have a chance of restoring some semblance or peace to the region.
Chris, London, UK
Incredible! First there was disappearing equipment and technology for nuclear bomb research. Now vanishing explosives! It seems to me that the evidence speaks loudly that WMD were low on the list of priorities.
Sean, Halifax, Canada
Iraq is a nightmare that is only going to get worse. Troops out. Blair out.
Jonny, Cranleigh, England
Send more troops now. Let us get this job done properly, the Iraqi people have deserved peace and security for the last 30 years or so regardless of what the main stream left leaning media will try and put in your heads.
To many Iraqis, the US occupiers are viewed with the same anger and hatred as Saddam was. Firstly, they appoint as ruler a willing participant of Saddam's regime with a criminal record to match. Secondly they employ former Iraq army generals to fight the resistance, the same generals that Saddam used to fight the insurgents in the north and south of the country. Then they continue to use Abu Ghraib in the same manner as it always was used. Yet, the world is expected to believe that the US is providing a new direction and approach to the Middle East. This form of democracy and freedom has already been experienced in Iraq, and that's why they are fighting against it.
M Ali Hussein, UK
The options are not limited to bombarding places like Falluja and withdrawing. The oversimplifying approach, either with us or with the terrorists and either WMD or the removal of Saddam, are presented like that to murk the situation. In my view, the fiasco of Iraq is partly due to Bush's fixation of "leading" the world but without telling where or thinking about how. In time the US will have to swallow its pride and give the control of this operation to some one less aggressive and more experienced. I only hope that they do that before it is too late.
Kitsa L, Athens Greece
I am a Viet Nam Viet and I am totally outraged that the "new" Iraqi Army, whom we "trained" is allowed to roam about a war zone un armed. How stupid! Exactly who was responsible for this incomprehensible, horrifying, and tragic event? Was it the Iraqi Generals? Or, could it have been our own Generals? So many Viet Nam-like mistakes are being made, one would think the only differences in the Iraqi War and Viet Nam is the sand and lack of rain!
Bob Ballard, Austin, Texas
Talk about being caught between a rock and hard place. Join the security forces to support your family and run a high risk of getting killed or let them starve. Democracy never tasted so good. Also, will the wages be as good once the US stop paying post election and the penniless Iraqi Government takes over the purse strings? Never.
Terrorism is not caused because there is no democracy as someone suggested. Terrorism is caused because of injustice. I think it is time America woke up to the fact. Northern Ireland did have democracy. South Africa did have democracy. But injustice is what causes people to fight for their rights. Iraq has been unjustly invaded and this is a cost that we paying in the West - through our dead and money.
I find it quite extraordinary that the US can preach democracy. Would that be the American style of democracy where the outcome of elections is decided by lawyers? Or would that be the global style where in the main the minority are voted in to rule? We have no right to foist a system on to people who have not asked for it. The fight for democracy comes from within the heart, soul and mind of the people - not from an invader seeking to plunder and destroy. I suggest that the US get out while they can before they bring the whole pack of cards that is the Middle East around their ears.
Harry C, Perth, Australia
It's crystal clear...Iraq is not a safe country, even for its own people.
Rizal, Sabah, Malaysia
I pity these new recruits! They are sandwiched between their strong need to support families by accepting risky yet rewarding jobs in the local police force or National Guard and facing possible death at the hands of resistance fighters.
Anil M Selarka, Hong Kong
My heart goes out to the families of the slain Iraqis. But what we are witnessing in Iraq is a country in deep crisis that is spinning out of control. The American and British governments have started a war that cannot be won and, unfortunately, have no idea how to withdraw from. It can only get worse.
Paul, Toronto, Canada
It seems that every day, from Iraq come stories of horror, murder, chaos, and uncertainty, an utter war zone, our world. So often, we and our opinions are insulated from the reality of violent conflict. The shell of mediated words and images provide us spectators with a platform for a distracting, unengaged, and sanitised debate. Meanwhile death is real and those in war, those losing their lives deserve positive action, not words of promise from "leaders" whose interests are plainly fixed in continuing their own power through others' brutal subjugation. We need more than discussion at this time, our world and future most certainly depends on it.
Nik Olsen, Tucson, AZ, USA
Get out now! Then the Iraqis will not have the US and Britain to blame for their troubles.
John W McClure, Santa Fe, NM USA
As unfortunate as these attacks are, people must understand that in the eyes of many Iraqis, these soldiers were viewed as collaborators with an occupying army. Only when Iraq is truly free, and no longer ruled by a puppet government will such attacks cease.
Ali Haidar, Dhaka, Bangladesh
While we are told that the stakes are high. It seems continually that the fledgling Iraqi forces are not given the basic protection that they need. That the 49 army recruits appear to have been travelling so poorly protected is indicative of how the coalition is hampering its own efforts by offering soft (and so obvious) targets to the insurgents. Perhaps what is needed is not just hard intelligence, but the actual application of some intelligence by the military.
Barry B, UK
If the comments to be read here are truly a "balance of opinion", I really have to wonder how much people are easily swayed in the west by the popular media. Reacting on daily headlines as they appear, without much thought is simply how the terrorists want people in the west and the Arab world to react. Read behind the headlines. Understand the full context of the situation before commenting! Iraq is fighting for its survival against a mixture of ultra nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists that do not represent the majority, who simply want stability to rebuild their lives.
John Bookbinder, Lithuania
Changing the face of the middle east is going to cost a lot of lives, and its going to take a long time. But from where I'm standing, it is necessary. The only way the world will ever see peace is through democracy. When all people on earth are free to choose their leaders, terrorism will die. It is going to be a long and brutal war, but it had to start somewhere. Iraq was a good place to plant the seed of Democracy. The future I think will reflect this. The coalition of the willing are the pioneers of an eventual world stability through democracy and freedom.
Casey Keenan, Charlottesville, VA, USA
The killing in Iraq must be taken in context. Saddam slaughtered some 300,000 of his own people over a period of about 25 years. His war with Iran cost close to one million lives. The significant thing that many of you seem to be missing is that the casualties we are seeing now are increasingly Iraqi security forces, yet they are volunteering in droves. This simply means that the Iraqis are now taking the fight to the anti-democratic forces. They are fighting for freedom. Furthermore, the violence we see now is out in the open. Under Saddam it was much worse, but hidden. To even come close to Saddam's total, the current rate of killing will have to go on for a long long time. When compared to any major conflict, where freedom is wrestled from tyrants, the Iraqi conflict actually has a low casualty rate. When compared to other recent world conflicts, which most people simply ignored, Iraqi casualty rates are not that high. Read your history; and recall Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Darfur, Congo, Somalia, etc.
Paul, Saskatoon Canada
While the Sunnis maintained a total hegemony of power in Iraq from independence until 2003, they remain a small minority. Their recognition that they will be outvoted is the source of their willingness to admit violence and the use of terror against their fellow citizens and the coalition forces. They have failed to understand or accept that a federal system might well ensure that they maintain some form of autonomy and have settled for an alliance with the most despicable of terrorist organisations.
J John M Twiss, Kuwait
Many think the situation won't improve until the "occupiers" leave; but this recent violence demonstrates who would rise to power in Iraq if the US leaves prematurely. These are not Iraqi patriots slaughtering their countrymen. These are radicals and foreigners fighting for their own brutal control of the country, and their agenda does not include human rights. Those arguing that the US must leave at once should seriously consider the consequences.
Patrick, Dallas, TX, USA
Massacres such as this show the need for more troops in Iraq, whatever nationality they may be, to fight these thugs. People who kill children, police and aid workers are not nationalists, they are pure evil. These people only understand the language of force and they should be hunted down mercilessly for the sake of the majority of noble Iraqis who want to build a bright future.
Dr. Haider Al-Najjar, UK
Anyone that says that its time to "leave and go home" doesn't understand that things will get worst if the coalition actually does. This is what happens when you remove the iron fist of a dictator and replace it with the army of a democracy that actually values life. Its going to take time for the transition and it would nice if people understood it and supported the coalition. I do think that in the long term, Iraq will be better off. Public opinion is too near sighted.
The continue violence is a clear indication that the United States is not winning the hearts and minds of the locals. The fact is that the Iraq resistance is well organized and popular unlike what the US government tell us. Branding the resistance as "terrorist" is another way of demonizing the struggle. US President Bush and Mr. Blair were wrong in their assumptions before and now if they think that daily bombing will bring the Iraqis to their knees into submission, they are dead wrong. The rush to have elections is a test for Washington and its client state, the UK, not for the Iraqi. The current elite has not legitimacy and this will be a long and bloody battle. Sadly, the United States has no credibility left in the Middle East.
Raymond Chickrie, USA
Is the violence in Iraq only caused by 'insurgents'? As Noam Chomsky famously said "If you want to stop terrorism, stop participating in it".
Nigel, Otago, New Zealand
It's the Americans fault on how they have handled the war. They are not a peace keeping force unlike the British army which are trained for green soldiering! Iraq will go out of control if the Americans carry on the way they are now.
Paul, Durham, UK
To suggest that Iraq is out of control implies that at some time (after the invasion?) it was in control. With no clear exit strategy, the coalition forces will continue to be reactive. When will Bush and Blair realise that the baddies no longer wear black hats! Looks like another NI/Vietnam situation.
Brian McCulloch, West Kilbride, Scotland
It strikes me that the situation has likely now deteriorated past any control the occupying forces can exert. It will only become stable when the Iraqi people themselves make it so, and find some way to unite under a new banner without the occupiers being present.
Kelvin Walker, Glos, UK
The reasons for the invasion have proven to be fictitious so running on that basis the legality of the present occupation is open to question. This throws open the whole question of legality plus the situation has been badly handled , Abu Ghraib springs to mind , unfortunately it looks as though the hornets nest has been properly kicked open. Unless the U.N steps in this situation is likely to worsen.
Bush and Blair should have listened to the overwhelming expert and public opinion before they entered this adventure. They have a lot of blood on their hands now.
Ian, Manchester, England
The Iraqi insurgency against the US and the UK is similar to the Algerian against France: Divided opinion at home and the army fighting a hidden enemy. As time goes by politicians wanted to save face and the army wanted to limit its losses in a no win situation. In the end it took a strong willed politician to pull out and end the nightmare. The repercussions to France for its policy in Algeria are still reverberating in Paris. Will the US and the UK face similar fate?
S Kothari, Harrow
It is fairly obvious that not only there are far more insurgents than originally assumed, but that they also are extremely well organised and supported. There is no sign of weakening, their actions are becoming more frequent and efficient, in brief, it appears they are in control, not the coalition. Even if elections are held in January, I wouldn't bet on how long an elected government would hold for. With other ongoing developments, e.g. in Iran, I can only see the situation escalate even further.
Ed Karten, London, England
Slaughter such as this is not new in Iraq, not it is exclusively because of the Coalition presence. It happened during Saddam's era as recently discovered mass graves testify. It just didn't concern people because Iraq was not open to the scrutiny of the world media. How many people naively believe that if we up and went then this sort of things wouldn't happen? Had we left Saddam then, or if we leave now, then we will simply be turning over a powerful nation like Iraq to the people who committed these atrocities.
Gareth O'Neill, Glasgow, Scotland
The Americans seem to be fighting blind. They don't know who they are fighting, where they are or who is co-ordinating them. Fighting an insurgency is impossible without good intelligence and the US doesn't seem to have that.
Horrific, it is time to leave and come back home. I am sick of all this violence. Why not leave the country and let them sort the mess US/UK have created there.
Yes. It is out of control. The reason is that the motives for going to war in the first place were probably not honourable ones. Always in life there is a sowing and a reaping.
Heather Gibbs, Glos UK
They are supposed to protect Iraqis. They were hunted. Will Blair send more troops to protect the Iraqi army? Are we bogged down? I am afraid, yes. We need to change leaders to get out of this mess.
Mahmoud, Glasgow, UK
I suspect there are peaceful areas of Iraq, exactly the same as there are deeply hostile and out of control areas, so the statement is a bit too sweeping. Unfortunately it is exactly the state I expected it to be in. Bush and Blair ran headlong into a war without a plan for after they had removed the government and ended up with no solution to the problems. Why am I not surprised?
Ian P, Birmingham, UK
Not only is it out of control, it is much worse than what it was under Saddam. Iraqis who've been tortured both under Saddam and Americans tell that it is more inhumane under the Americans. I wonder how would Americans react if some power did this to them.
100s of Iraqis are being killed on daily basis, who on earth with the right state of mind would claim 'Iraq is under control'
The violence in Iraq is appalling, no one can doubt that. Also that it is right that it should be debated and highlighted. However all we hear from the anti-war fringe, including the BBC, is the constant referral to how terrible it is. For the sake of those who live there is there not some improvement being made, somewhere? Are we to believe that not a single measure of the ordinary Iraqi's life is improved? It would seem that according to the BBC that is the case - or is it that there is a US election in the offing?
Simon Walker, UK
This is what happens when a country invades another country, the people fight back. I know if the UK got invaded I wouldn't just go along with it all while watching my family and friends and places that have a lot of sentimental value to me get blown up. Everyone thought the war would be easy, its obvious Iraq's military was an under trained - primitive joke but guerrilla tactics is what they specialise at and that's how they are fighting back in this war, they will keep fighting until either we leave or they are all dead.
Dale Morgan, Swansea
Dale Morgan, Swansea-you miss the point. These attacks aren't being carried out by the Iraqi army, indeed the Iraqi army is the main target. The attacks are being carried out by insurgents- Arab fighters from all over the Middle East.
Peter, Nottingham (U.K)
The media have failed signally to interpret what is happening on the ground in Iraq. There is an insurrection. It is gaining momentum. There are about 250,000 too few Allied soldiers on the ground to deal with it. The current escalation is aimed at influencing the US election and there are likely to be real, serious attacks this week on both US and British troops, especially the Black Watch. The rebels know that any losses amongst Black Watch soldiers will have a disproportionate effect, almost certainly ending the Blair Prime Ministership. We need to put enough troops in to deal with the situation, or get out.
Kevin Cahill, Exeter, Devon