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WHO ARMED IRAQ? ANSWERS THE WEST DIDNT WANT TO HEAR

BY DOUGLAS JEHL

WASHINGTON—The terms of the punishment forced on Iraq

since the Persian Gulf War may be most valuable for what they have taught. Rarely has a country defeated in battle been so laid bare to outside scrutiny. To the victors, the answer to how Iraq gained its power is now dispiritingly clear: it was usthe West, and German companies in particular.

That conclusion is documented in stark detail in a new study by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Based in part on the work of United Nations inspectors, it identifies the Western companies who supplied the crucial parts in what was emerging as an extraordinary Iraqi arsenal. German firms were by far the worst offenders, but others in Switzerland, Britain, France, Italy and the United States were also instrumental. Without Western help, the report's author, Gary Milhollin, shows, Iraq could never have come so close to producing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

The pattern is in some ways familiar. Countries aspiring to power have long turned to foreign merchants for muskets and machine guns. What has changed has to do with what has changed about war. Rather than in vast shipments, even the smallest of acquisitions may prove decisive in an era in which nuclear, biological and chemical weapons can hold populations hostage. And the goods sought for military value may just as well be produced by a supercomputer manufacturer or bio technology company as by a munitions maker.

A Western bolt found in an Iraqi missile is not necessarily a sign of complicity. A bolt has many peaceful uses, too. But the picture provided by the Wisconsin Project suggests just how instrumental such dual-use trade can be. Italian technology allowed Iraq to extract plutonium, and high-performance Swiss presses gave it the ability to make nuclear weapons parts. Most of what Iraq needed to extend the range of its Scud missiles came from Germany. American computers were used in virtually all Iraqi missile and nuclear sites. Of course, Iraq's

most crucial acquisitions had even clearer military purposes. The Soviet Union openly sold Baghdad hundreds of Scud missiles; Brazil helped secretly in an effort to build an atomic bomb. But it was the wider Western flood, aided by lax laws and porous borders, that helped Iraq to refine those tools, outfit secret fac tories, and thereby to reach the verge of even more destructive force.

*Dairy Plant Parts Just one example of that flow was first found in crates marked as dairy plant parts bound from Frankfurt for Baghdad. In fact the intercepted metal parts were a supplement to the 27,436 Scud missile parts worth $28.2 million that the German company, H & H Metalform, had already delivered to Iraq. A separate compression device was to have helped Írag test a new intermediate-range missile. There was little mystery to its purpose, German intelligence found: the company had sold the same kind of rocket-testing device to Brazil.

With the most dangerous of the projects dismantled, the tension between Iraq and the West is mostly about the future. In refusing again last week to permit U.N. inspectors to install cameras at a missile-test site, Iraq made clear its aversion to the next step of U.N. oversight, which under Security Council Resolution 715 calls upon the West to keep long-term watch as Iraq begins to build new weapons.

An apparent agreement on a separate U.N. plan calling for Iraq to sell oil to meet humanitarian needs suggested that Baghdad might still be open to a last-minute compromise. But even a fence-mending visit by Rolf Ekeus, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, left unclear by Friday whether Iraq would back down or brave a Western threat of a retaliatory strike.

The new U.N. focus on monitoring—with its fixation on productsnevertheless carries a danger of being too narrow. There are signs that Western equipment remains a key ingredient in secret weapons programs, not only in Iraq but elsewhere.

A report to Congress last month concluded that illegal shipments by Western companies had helped Iraq repair or rebuild nearly all of the military

production capacity it lost during the war. American intelligence reports have similarly warned of newly aggressive efforts by Iran to acquire the technology needed to produce chemical and biological weapons.

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SADDAM HUSSEIN COLLECTED NTTS AND BOLTS AND LETHALITY

FOR HIS SCLDS FROM THE NATIONS THAT DEPLORED HIM

Vague Pledges and New Pleadings So ere powerful pressures affect Germany and Japen who rely far more heavily on the Iranian market. So it was no surprise that President Clinton was able in Tokyo to boid Iran and ciber rogue countries accountable for their actions. As Yr Yhtoin warns, Most of the con panies that sold to Iraq are still in business, and are stii koking for sales in the Middle East

And la governsents increasingly preoccupied with job creation, it may be difSicult to reject new pleadings from those who insist that their chemical or computer can do no harm.

Any sale looks less sinister when considered individually, but the lesson of Iraq night crorter such complacency, As chronicled now, it shows millions of dollars in British and German machine tools used to make centrifuges, sleek new Swiss presses designed to forge ouclear weapons parts; Mercedes-Benz tractors and flat-bed trailers fitred as mobile missile launching pads. Its message is that economic security, for all its importance, remains a subset of something more fundamental

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On March 11, 1991, the Commerce Department released a list of those licenses. The list showed the equipment approved, the date, the value, the buyer in Iraq and the claimed Iraqi end use. This report is an analysis of the list. It shows, beyond any doubt, that U.S. export controls suffered a massive breakdown in the period preceding the Gulf War. When U.S. planes were sent to destroy Iraq's strategic sites, much of the equipment they bombed was made in the United States. The report finds that:

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In January 1988, the Commerce Department approved more than two
million dollars' worth of quartz crystals to the "Salah al Din
Establishment" (case B290664) and the "Iraqi Trading
Company" (case B346115), both of which frankly said that they
wanted the crystals for "components in a ground radar system." Salah
al Din was a military electronics factory built by the French company
Thomson-CSF. It manufactured three-dimensional early warning
radars and may have made components for missile guidance and radar
jamming equipment.

Quartz crystals perform a vital function in radar: they measure time accurately in small units. Because the position of an object is determined by the time it takes a radar pulse to reach the object and return, accurate time measurement is essential. Military-level quartz crystals are defined as those with high stability over a wide operating temperature, or with the ability to withstand acceleration forces up to 20 times gravity, or shock greater than 10,000 times gravity, or very high radiation. Lower grade crystals do not need a license.

The crystals carried commodity control number 1587, identifying them as especially useful for missile production. All items on the U.S. Commodity Control List require an individual license for export, but some of the items, such as quartz crystals, are singled out as sensitive for missiles. In such cases, the State Department is supposed to be consulted because State chairs the Missile Technology Export Committee (MTEC), an interagency group that evaluates export applications subject to missile controls. This means that the Commerce Department should have referred the two applications to

http://www.wisconsinproject.org/pubs/reports/1991/licensemd.html

11/19/2002

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