November 29, 2004

IF I KNEW YOU WERE COMIN' I'D HAVE BAKED YELLOWCAKE:

Complete nuclear bomb plant earmarked for Libya found in South Africa (Douglas Frant and William Rempel, November 29, 2004, LA Times)

Authorities hunting traffickers in nuclear weapons technology recently uncovered an audacious plan to deliver a complete uranium enrichment plant to Libya.

The discovery provides fresh evidence of the reach and sophistication of the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's global black market in nuclear know-how and equipment. It also exposes a previously undetected South African branch of the Khan network.

Details of the plot began to emerge in September, when police found the elements of a two-storey steel processing system for the enrichment plant in a factory outside Johannesburg. They were packed in 11 freight containers for shipment to Libya. [...]

Some of the centrifuges for the plant were shipped separately from Malaysia, because the specialised steel needed was not available in South Africa. The interception of that cargo by US and Italian authorities in October 2003 led to the Johannesburg raid and spurred Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to renounce efforts to develop banned weapons.


In a world where you can buy nuclear weapons factories and get the UN to funnel you money, Saddam Hussein was always a WMD threat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2004 12:00 AM
Comments

Heh, heh. Good ole Qadafi.

Waiting for the storm to blow over and then buying right off the shelf, lock stock and barrel.

(That's the name of the game: smile 'n curtsy 'n mutter sweet nothings 'n then wait for the storm to blow over. Granted the storm's been going on for a bit nad could last a good bit longer, but hey, patience is virtue....)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 29, 2004 12:59 AM

"In a world where you can buy nuclear weapons factories and get the UN to funnel you money, Saddam Hussein was always a WMD threat."

Conversely, the shining example that Qadafi was supposedly setting turned out to be a fraud. So the example set by invading Iraq has apparently only resulted in other countries wanting to arm themselves with nukes as soon as possible. There are some who predicted this.

Also, Orrin, while you are correct that on the basis of this logic Saddam was a WMD threat whether he had WMD or not, the same holds true for just about any other regime hostile to the US that could afford to order the makings of a nuclear arsenal from willing purveyors.

Since we can't attack all that fall under those headings and the invasion of Iraq doesn't seem to have been very effective as a deterrent to other countries, it appears we are back down to 'spreading democracy' as a strategic outcome to be hoped for.

If the prevention of WMD proliferation was ever a serious goal of the Bush administration in invading Iraq, they have failed to achieve it.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2004 4:17 AM

Arming yourself with nukes won't prevent the US from taking you out, although it does considerably increase the possibility of your nation being flattened while we do it.

Conversely, in Iraq, one year after the start of the invasion they had a public infrastructure SUPERIOR to that of Saddam's regime.

Spreading democracy is the ONLY* way to prevent WMD proliferation; we aren't going to invade every second or third world hellhole that seeks nukes. Even that isn't foolproof. Although democracies tend to focus on providing citizens with services, rather than spending 20% of GNP on WMD, the nuclear programmes of India and Pakistan were perceived as nationalistic status symbols.


*The only effective way that the US will pursue. Bombing the leaders, capitals, and facilities of those nations found to be seeking nuclear weapons would also be fairly effective.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 29, 2004 4:46 AM

Isn't Khan supposed to have been jailed by our good friend, Tribblehead Musharraf, the leader of Pakistan? Maybe, we should just nuke whatever city Khan is living in currently in order to make our message a little clearer to the barbarians.

Posted by: Bart at November 29, 2004 5:24 AM

"Arming yourself with nukes won't prevent the US from taking you out"

I'll concede that point just as soon as the US attacks a state known to be armed with nukes. Until then, I will hold the opinion that a nuclear deterrent is an effective one.

"Conversely, in Iraq, one year after the start of the invasion they had a public infrastructure SUPERIOR to that of Saddam's regime."

By what standard? At that point, even the supply of electricity was still below what it was during Saddam's regime.

"we aren't going to invade every second or third world hellhole that seeks nukes"

In light of the fact that we simply can't, that looks very much like the correct choice.

I agree that democracy in Iraq is very desirable, and that democracy throughout the Middle East will have tremendous long-term benefits, not least in terms of security... but I seriously don't know if the actions of the last year or so will necessarily get us there. The option of civil war or a hardline theocracy in Iraq are still, unfortunately, viable options.

"Spreading democracy is the ONLY* way to prevent WMD proliferation"

Since when do democracies automatically not seek WMD for the sake of national security? Or by 'proliferation' do you mean 'handing over to terrorists'?

"Bombing the leaders, capitals, and facilities of those nations found to be seeking nuclear weapons would also be fairly effective."

If this were to become a standard policy, it would be disastrous for US standing in the world. Keep in mind that military might is not the only kind there is, and the US economy relies heavily on other nations.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2004 5:53 AM

The interception of that cargo by US and Italian authorities in October 2003 led to the Johannesburg raid and spurred Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to renounce efforts to develop banned weapons.

You might want to read at least the excerpt before commenting.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 7:39 AM

David --

Great point. But you understand the debating gymnasts ability to ever be wrong. They ALWAYS said Daddafi's capitulation proved diplomacy works! Incidentally, creeper, what are we not doing in the field of nuclear non-proliferation?

Posted by: Moe from NC at November 29, 2004 8:04 AM

I'm with creeper, we need to nuke North Korea to show we're serious about non-proliferation.

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 8:23 AM

Having reread my comment, I see that it is not the sort of gracious BrothersJudd welcome we extend to new commenters to inveigle them before shattering their world view and extending our conquest. Therefore, I apologize. However, you might want to consider that this is what victory looks like in the real world, where we are not converting quasi-socialist dictators to liberal democratic truth so much as we are making them fear for their lives should they overly displease us.

As for bombing the Norks, sure, so long as we've gotten our troops out of the South, we give the leadership issue some time to become clear and everyone agrees that the bombing doesn't impose any moral obligation to go in and fix the place ourselves.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 8:55 AM

"I'm with creeper, we need to nuke North Korea to show we're serious about non-proliferation."

I disagree with creeper if that is indeed what he said.

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2004 10:28 AM

"The interception of that cargo by US and Italian authorities in October 2003 led to the Johannesburg raid and spurred Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to renounce efforts to develop banned weapons."

"You might want to read at least the excerpt before commenting."

I did. Some parts were discovered some time ago, before Gaddagi renounced his nuclear ambitions, and some were discovered quite recently. Being sceptical about a dictator's intentions re. secret weapons programs is only prudent, right?

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2004 10:33 AM

Alas, the Left always bails when it comes to enforcing their good intentions...

Posted by: oj at November 29, 2004 10:45 AM

Creeper: Absolutely we should be skeptical. As a great liberal democrat once said, "Trust, but verify."

Equally, we should not always accept international condemnation of American unilateralism at face value. Sometimes, it is followed by a very private sigh of relief.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 10:56 AM

Just like after Osirak.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 29, 2004 12:15 PM

"As a great liberal democrat once said, "Trust, but verify.""

If you're thinking of Reagan, he was paraphrasing Lenin (perhaps unwittingly).

Posted by: creeper at November 29, 2004 2:26 PM

In keeping with all the advice conservatives are now giving to the Democratic Party, I will note that Democrats will not have achieved true enlightenment until they give up the idea that Ronald Reagan ever said anything unwittingly.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 29, 2004 3:06 PM

creeper:

By superior public infrastructure, I meant the increased electrical generation, water treatment, and oil production is place one year after the invasion.
Throw in all of the schools that we built/re-built/repaired, and it's clear that outside of the Sunni triangle, they haven't had it this good in 10 years.

Count the number of democracies in the world.
Now count the number of them who are attempting to build nuclear weapons.
Q.E.D.

The US does very little trade with the nations that we'd have to bomb.
Additionally, the American invasion of Iraq was wildly unpopular around the globe, but so far, there's been no economic repercussion.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 30, 2004 7:44 PM
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