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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 us-the 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 biotechnology 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 factories, 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 İraq 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 products-nevertheless 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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In the absence of a recognizatie vilian lice Saddam Hussein, a private company car four the templatim of big busness stroad difficult to resist. "One major foreign order is enough incentive for some of these firms to turn a blind eye to the law." said Anthony Cardesman, a Middle East expert who has advocated even more rigid


That problem is compounded when governments send mixed messages, as a lawyer for an Atlama banker argued last week. The chent, the local representative of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, is accused of granting nearly $5 billion in unauthorized loans to finance Iraq's military buildup, and former President Bush was served with a subpoena after the lawyer said his testimony was needed to demonstrate that the client was just carrying out unstated United States policy.

Even the Canson Administration, having vowed to subject Iran and Iraq to a new "dual containment," has yet to reject an appeal by Boeing and General Electric for special permission to sell $50 million worth of commercial aircraft and engines to Iran. Boeing has warned that a Wane House refusal to approve the sale would effectively surrender thousands of jobs to Europe's Airbus Industries.


Vague Pledges and New Pleadings

Still more powerful pressures affect Germany and Japan, who rely far more heavily on the Iraman market. So it was no surprise that President Clinton was able to win httle more than a vague pledge from other leaders at the economic summit in Tokyo to hold Iran and other rogue countries accountable for their actions. As Mr. Mihollin warns, Most of the companies that sold to Iraq are still in business, and are still looking for sales in the Middle East."

And for governments increasingly preoccupied with job creation, it may be difficult 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 might counter 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 nuclear weapons parts; Mercedes-Benz tractors and flat-bed trailers fitted 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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Licensing Mass Destruction

Licensing Mass Destruction
U.S. Exports to Iraq: 1985-1990

by Gary Milhollin

June 1991.


The U.S. Department of Commerce licensed more than $1.5 billion
worth of sensitive U.S. exports to Iraq from 1985 to 1990./1 Most
were "dual-use" items, capable of making nuclear weapons or long-
range missiles if diverted from their claimed civilian purposes.

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:

• The Commerce Department knew that millions of dollars' worth
of sensitive American equipment would wind up in Iraq's
missile and other military programs, but approved the licenses

• The Commerce Department failed to refer missile technology
export cases to the State Department and nuclear technology
cases to the Energy Department, in violation of its own

• Front companies for every known nuclear, chemical and missile
site in Iraq bought American computers, with total American
computer exports exceeding $96 million.

• American machine tools may have helped build the SCUD
missiles that hit Tel Aviv and killed U.S. troops in Saudi

• American radar components may have helped shoot down U.S.
aircraft and develop long-range missiles.

Based on these findings, the study recommends that Congress take
dual-use licensing away from the Commerce Department, appoint a
Congressional committee to oversee the licensing process, and open
dual-use licensing to public view.


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Licensing Mass Destruction

and, according to Western intelligence documents, "responsible for the development and manufacture of gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment."/3 In addition, Nassr ran artillery ammunition plants, purchased "high-capacity driving nozzles" for missiles from a German company,/4 and was linked to the Condor II intermediate-range missile project.

Thus the Commerce Department approved sensitive U.S. equipment that would go directly to Iraqi nuclear weapon, chemical weapon, and missile sites, despite the fact that the exporter was suspected of nuclear smuggling, and despite the fact that the importer declared an intention to work on rocket bodies. Commerce knew that the exporter was unreliable, and knew that the end use was improper, but approved the export anyway.

This equipment may well have helped build the SCUD missile that killed American troops in Dhahran. The buyer represented the SCUD program, the equipment was used to rework rocket casings, and Iraq used a long-range SCUD with a reworked casing to reach the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.


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


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