Jewish World Review March 7, 2003 / 3 Adar II, 5763
As Saddam Hussein treats the United Nations to the spectacle of his destruction of his intermediate-range missiles, he is hoping that he can cool the impetus toward war. Likely, he will soon up the ante and offer to destroy his stockpiles of anthrax and VX nerve agent weaponry.
Colin Powell yesterday said that Saddam is actually saving many of these missiles. But another thing is lost in the discussion: The weapons he is now identifying and destroying are only those the list of what the arms inspectors found before he threw them out of Iraq in 1998. None of the weapons he is destroying were made after the inspectors left.
For us to assume that Saddam's weapon destruction is comprehensive, we would have to believe that he made no new weapons of mass destruction during the four years after inspections terminated. This assumption is totally unrealistic.
Saddam has had an annual flow of over $40 million per day in the past four years, most of which he was perfectly free to spend on weapons of mass destruction. By '98, he had achieved his two-part goal - he was allowed to sell nearly as much oil as he shipped before the Gulf War, and the arms inspectors weren't there to make sure he used the cash to feed his starving millions.
Freed of inspections and awash in money, Saddam has been able to build huge arsenals of prohibited weapons.
The U.N. inspectors - modern versions of Inspector Clouseau - have not found any of the weapons Saddam has made since '98. In his disclosures, the Iraqi dictator has not revealed any. All we are talking about, in his current efforts to prove he is disarming, are the weapons the U.N. has known about for years and which Saddam is now, for the first time, admitting that he has.
Yet Saddam's hidden weapon stocks most likely dwarf the ones he is now admitting. During the '90s, he was sharply limited in the amount of oil he could sell. For the first half of the decade, he was not allowed to sell any. In the second half, he was restricted, first to 500,000 barrels a day, then to 1 million, and then to his current limit of 2 million.
So it is only recently that he has had the money to rearm.
Before 1998, the inspectors were looking over his shoulder, roaming Iraq in search of deadly weapons. They closely monitored his legal oil sales (they couldn't stop the oil he smuggled out), forcing him to deposit the money in bank accounts they could track and control.
But, after '98, all these restrictions were lifted. Freed of inspections, Saddam could do what he wanted with the money and build whatever weapons of mass destruction he coveted.
By failing to own up to the weapons he produced after 1998, about which the United Nations knows nothing, Saddam is, in fact, hiding most of his potential for mass destruction. He is destroying only the tip of the iceberg of his lethal arsenal, leaving the bulk of it under wraps, unseen, uninspected, undisclosed - and, of course, undestroyed.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Dick Morris