Nuclear blackmail

October 23, 1991

The most chilling discovery of the United Nations inspection team charged with dismantling Iraq's nuclear weapons has been evidence that Iraq not only was on the verge of producing an atomic bomb but that it also had plans for developing hydrogen bombs hundreds of times more destructive than the weapons dropped on Japan in World War II.

Iraq was so close, in fact, to building a primitive atomic weapon that if Saddam had waited only a few months before invading Kuwait, he might well have had the whole world by the short hair -- a lesson that surely won't be lost on the next rogue state with its finger on the nuclear trigger.

And the prospect of nuclear blackmail is by no means confined to bellicose Third World regimes. Seymour Hersh, a reliable investigative reporter, relates in a new book, "The Samson Option," that Israel had secretly developed a nuclear arsenal far larger than U.S. experts previously estimated, and that twice in the last 23 years it had mobilized nuclear-tipped rockets aimed, of all places, at the Soviet Union.

According to Hersh, Israel apparently believed its interests were served by the Soviets knowing it could hit Russian cities -- a kind of nuclear blackmail to deter the Soviets from intervening militarily in any Mideast conflict.

But who were the Israelis blackmailing? Hardly just the Soviets. Since Israel knew full well that if it fired a nuclear missile at a Soviet city, Moscow's response would be so devastating that it most likely would lead to nuclear war with the U.S., Israel's leaders were in effect using their nuclear potential to blackmail Washington as well as Moscow into keeping the Arabs in check.

These are but two examples of what the world will become if the proliferation of nuclear weapons goes on unchecked. The prospect of every little country in the world with a nuclear arsenal would make the Cold War child's play by contrast.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.