MideastWeb Middle East Web Log

log  archives  middle east  maps  history   documents   countries   books   encyclopedia   culture   dialogue   links    timeline   donations 

Search:

Lessons from Libya

12/22/2003

Libya's disclosure of its clandestine nuclear weapons program, connected to an offer of dismantlement, promises to add another chapter to the surprisingly long list of countries that have abandoned the quest for the only true kind of weapons of mass destruction. Four states so far have handed over or dismantled existing nuclear devices. A larger number have stopped short of building them. In the Middle East, Algeria and Egypt already appear on the list, although many more such countries can be found in Latin America, Europe, and East Asia.

Libya's move is positive at any number of levels. Among other things, it helps to undermine the usual rationale put forward for Iranian nuclear weapons -- if Israel has them, then Muslim states in the region must also have them. But these revelations also offer signs of deeper troubles that threaten to accelerate the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Early reports suggest that the most surprising aspect of Libya's program was the presence of a relatively well-developed system of centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium, probably similar to Iran's centrifuges. Both Iran and Libya appear to have depended on expertise from Pakistan, whose leading nuclear scientist, the involuntarily retired Dr. A.Q. Khan, is notorious as an advocate of the "Islamic Bomb." The travels of leading Pakistani nuclear scientists to Afghanistan to consort with Usama bin Ladin are the stuff of nightmares, although fortunately no more than that.

Unlike North Korea, which also appears to have acquired centrifuge technology from Pakistani sources, Iran and Libya seem to have depended heavily on Dr. Khan's machines for their progress towards nuclear weapons. It now appears that his eponymous laboratories at Kahuta may be the source of effective, commercialized enrichment technology that reasonably sophisticated powers can put to use. At least three countries now seem to have acquired it in secrecy, although none so far actually appears to have enriched more than test amounts of uranium. Then again, if these three got the centrifuges without detection, we scarcely can be sure that others have not done so as well.

The acquisition of centrifuge tubes was, of course, one of the stated reasons that the United States went to war with Iraq earlier this year. But the contrast between Pakistan and Iraq is striking and instructive. Both countries originally stole their centrifuge designs from European sources. (In hindsight, the sloppy security practices of Dutch and German enrichment facilities are the true nightmares.) Iraq hoarded its stolen technologies, only to see them destroyed at the hands of the Persian Gulf War coalition in 1991 and UNSCOM in the early and mid-1990s. Americans were left to discover after the invasion of 2003 that the Iraqi centrifuge program had remained dormant after all. Meanwhile, Pakistan -- America's prime ally in the War on Terrorism -- has wittingly or unwittingly allowed its most sensitive nuclear technologies to disseminate in the most indiscriminate fashion, even to its neighboring Shi'ite rival Iran.

It would be foolish to rule out the use of force in the name of stopping the spread of nuclear arms. But Iraq turns out to have been the wrong bet. Obsessed with the personality of Saddam Hussein, the U.S. gambled and lost on the presence of the most dangerous weapons. For other reasons, America now faces protracted nuclear crises in North Korea and Iran, compounded, thanks to the Iraq adventure, by a crisis of credibility abroad. We now lack the cooperation of allies needed to contend with these challenges. The Bush team probably also lacks the tenacity and creativity required to uproot the Pakistani nuclear export threat, a tall order for any administration.

On such judgments or misjudgments, the fate of nations sometimes may turn. Let us hope that is not the case this time.

Analyst

For a closer look inside Libya's nuclear and missile programs, see here.

If you like this post - click to Reddit!
add to del.icio.usAdd to digg - digg it

Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000141.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by Analyst @ 12:55 PM CST [Link]

NEWS

Middle East e-Zine

Midde East News

Opinion Digest

Late Updates

REFERENCE

Middle East Glossary

Middle East Maps

Middle East Books

Middle East Documents

Israel-Palestine History

Israel-Palestine Timeline

Middle East Countries

Middle East Economy

Middle East Population

Middle East Health

Zionism History

Palestinian Parties

Palestinian Refugees

Peace Plans

Water

Middle East

  

Blog Links

OneVoice - Israeli-Palestinian Peace Blog

Bravo411 -Info Freedom

Israel News

Oceanguy

Michael Brenner

Dutchblog Israel

Dutch - IMO (Israel & Midden-Oosten) Blog (NL)

GulfReporter

Israpundit

Alas, a Blog

Little Green Footballs

Blue Truth

Fresno Zionism

Reut Blog

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Blog

Simply Jews: Judaism and Israel

Jeff Weintraub - Commentaries and Controversies

Vital Perspective

ZioNation

Meretz USA Weblog

normblog

MIDEAST observer

On the Contrary

Blogger News Network- BNN

Google Sex Maps

Demediacratic Nation

Realistic Dove

Tulip - Israeli-Palestinian Trade Union Assoc.

On the Face

Israel Palestjnen (Dutch)

Middle East Analysis

Israel: Like This, As If

Middle East Analysis

Mid_East Journal

Z-Word Blog

Dvar Dea

SEO for Everyone


Web Sites & Pages

Israeli-Palestinian Procon

End Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: One Voice

Democratiya

ATFP- American Task Force on Palestine

Americans For Peace Now

Shalom Achshav

Chicago Peace Now

Nemashim

Peacechild Israel

Bridges of Peace

PEACE Watch

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Z-Word

Zionism

Zionism and Israel

Zionism and Israel on the Web

Israel - Palestina:Midden-Oosten Conflict + Zionisme

IsraŽl in de Media

Euston Manifesto

New Year Peace

Jew

Christian Zionism

Jew Hate

Space Shuttle Blog

Israel News Magazine

SEO


My Ecosystem Details
International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Link 2 us
We link 2 U.
MidEastWeb- Middle East News & Views
MidEastWeb is not responsible for the content of linked Web sites



Please do not leave notes for MidEastWeb editors here. Hyperlinks are not displayed. We may delete or abridge comments that are longer than 250 words, or consist entirely of material copied from other sources, and we shall delete comments with obscene or racist content or commercial advertisements. Comments should adhere to Mideastweb Guidelines . IPs of offenders will be banned.

Powered By Greymatter

[Previous entry: "Sharon's unilateralism: What it means"] Main Index [Next entry: "Prophet and Loss Statement 2003 - How good was the MEW Crystal Ball?"]

ALL PREVIOUS MidEastWeb Middle East LOG ENTRIES

Thank you for visiting MidEastWeb - Middle East.
If you like what you see here, tell others about the MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log - www.mideastweb.org/log/.

Contact Us

Copyright

Editors' contributions are copyright by the authors and MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.
Please link to main article pages and tell your friends about MidEastWeb. Do not copy MidEastWeb materials to your Web Site. That is a violation of our copyright. Click for copyright policy.
MidEastWeb and the editors are not responsible for content of visitors' comments.
Please report any comments that are offensive or racist.

Editors can log in by clicking here

Technorati Profile

RSS FeedRSS feed Add to Amphetadesk Add to Amphetadesk

USA Credit Card - Donate to MidEastWeb  On-Line - Help us live and grow