and Its Quest for Nuclear Weapons
By Jim Garamone,
5, 2003 — Following the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the U.S. military
gathered huge piles of information and came up with a long list
of "lessons learned."
of Iraq. (Click map for screen-resolution image.) (Map
courtesy CIA World Factbook.)
States wasn’t the only place with experts mulling over the war.
One Indian general came up with his succinct own lessons learned
from the conflict: "Never fight the Americans without nuclear
A huge post-war
surprise for the victorious Gulf War coalition was how close Iraq
had been to having nuclear warheads.
Iraq was within
months of producing an enriched-uranium nuclear weapon when the
Persian Gulf War started in January1991. Had Iraq waited until
it had a nuke and had mounted it on a Scud missile begs the question
of what the worldwide response would have been to its invasion
of Kuwait in August 1990.
United States have been as quick to offer aid to Kuwait? Would
any of the Gulf nations have allowed a U.S. or coalition presence
if Saddam Hussein had threatened nuclear retaliation? By extension,
would or could the United States have been able to mass a coalition?
purpose of a terror weapon is to terrorize," Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld said during testimony before Congress on Sept.
18, 2002. "And it need not even be used to still be very
effective, because it alters behavior. And in the hands of the
likes of Saddam Hussein, that is a significant shift in capability
its ties to worldwide terrorism, is a rogue state. Hussein has
already used weapons of mass destruction on his neighbors and
his own people. An Iraqi nuclear weapon would clearly be destabilizing.
regime has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons,"
Rumsfeld said. "And let there be no doubt about it, his regime
has dozens of ballistic missiles and is working to extend their
range in violation of U.N. restriction."
Gulf War heavily damaged Iraq’s nuclear facilities. Yet Iraq managed
to hang on to its scientific and technical expertise. Hussein
has kept his core of nuclear experts together.
Hussein’s "nuclear holy warriors," as he calls his scientists,
have developed the plans for a nuclear weapon. The International
Institute for Strategic Studies said Iraqi scientists could fashion
a warhead within months if only Hussein could get foreign fissile
Bush addressed the threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons in his State
of the Union speech Jan.28. He noted that the United Nations’
International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in its inspections
following the Gulf War that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons
development program and a bomb design. Saddam Hussein’s scientists
were also working on five different methods of enriching uranium
for a bomb, Bush said.
British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought
significant quantities of uranium from Africa," Bush said.
"Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to
purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons
Hussein has not credibly explained these activities," Bush
continued. "He clearly has much to hide."