New revelations about the intensity and thoroughness of the Iraqi weapons program should cause leaders all over the world to reassess their good fortune. Had Saddam Hussein waited to launch his scheme of conquest, or had the United Nations not reacted with such alacrity, the world might have witnessed the ++ unthinkable: Thermonuclear warfare, launched by a madman. U.N. reports have shown that Iraqi had mounted a systematic, industrial-scale bomb-making effort. Tied to parallel missile developments, it could in a few short years have given Saddam Hussein the ability to lob ballistic attacks at any capital on the globe.
The real shocker came when International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors discovered Iraqi plans to produce lithium 6, used only in hydrogen bombs. Fusion weapons that use lithium are smaller and more powerful. Smaller as in "capable of being loaded onto a missile."
Scuds, which spread terror during the Desert Storm combat, could never have reached the United States, but another missile tested before the gulf war reached orbital altitude. And lest anyone doubt his motivations, Saddam was quoted last year in a Lebanese newspaper, Al-Moharer, as saying: "Our missiles cannot reach Washington. But if they could, we would hit there as necessary."
The madman who could contemplate such a ghastly act should never be able to get his hands on such weaponry. Saddam
Hussein could not have come close to this goal, despite the sophistication of his captive scientists, without the active collaboration of Western companies.
U.N. reports say the Iraqis used "cover names" to hide intended uses for some equipment. They translated catalogs into Arabic, listed suppliers of goods that could be bought without special export approvals and purchased things for civilian industry that were later shifted to military uses. Still, some Western suppliers had to know what was sought: Bomb-level uranium enrichment, computers to model nuclear explosions, sensitive trigger guidance devices. The individuals and companies who were willing collaborators of this clandestine Armageddon program should be exposed.
At a time when the nuclear powers themselves are standing down weapons, there is no justification for helping to undermine the safety of the world. Government action against individuals whose greed overrules common sense is proper.
The bottom line is that the suppliers who have helped spread the ballistic threat can be stopped only by a vigilant public, demanding that governments halt the deadly deals. Coalition action set Saddam Hussein's plans back, but 14 other Third World nations are struggling to develop ballistic missilery. Must we await another Saddam Hussein before dealing with this threat?