Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Why is Iraq a threat?
Prior to Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities were considered by western intelligence agencies to be in their infancy. Iraq had used chemical weapons both in the [Iran-Iraq war] and against [Iraqi Kurds] in Iraq's north during the 1980s, but the regime's other programs were thought to have not advanced beyond paper studies.
The aftermath of the Desert Storm air campaign told a very different story. Laser guided bombs had torn away Iraq's veil and revealed a number of ongoing and advanced WMD related programs. Iraqi engineers, often with assistance from western companies, were developing both weapons and delivery systems indigenously.
An excellent example of this is [Project Babylon], aka [The Supergun]. The Supergun was a project to build one of the world's largest artillery pieces, so large that it could not actually be aimed - it was to be built pointing one way and one way only, in a crater or into the side of a mountain. With a range of around 600 mile, a payload of apprroximately 1000 pounds, and a firing rate of perhaps one shot a day (if you were lucky), it would seem to be militarily useless.
But like any gun, it's not a threat unless it's loaded and pointing at something. The supergun was not of significant military value - and it's development certainly detracted from other programs - but it had great political value for Saddam. If the supergun had been developed, Saddam would be able to boast that he was the Arab leader with literally a gun to Israel's head. With a payload of only 1000 pounds, and able to fire only a round or two a day, Saddam could only arm the supergun with a WMD round. He already had chemical weapons, which are comparatively easy to develop and deploy, and we now know that even then Iraq had an extensive supply of anthrax and other biological weapons. Iraq would have gained considerable standing with it's peers in the Arab and Moslem world, and undoubtedly would have gained greater control of OPEC pricing. A second gun pointed eastward would have kept Iraq's other mortal enemy in check, and that would have been all Saddam would have needed- the supergun was Iraq's own first-strike capability, a sword of damocles hanging over the two extremes of the middle east.
That is only one example of an Iraqi WMD program, and one that the west knew very little about before coalition forces and the UN were walking through the Iraqi desert or examining post-strike photos from aircraft.
Iraq's nuclear weapons program was far, far more sinister.
[ 10/01/2002 11:45:00 PM ] [