The Los Angeles Times concludes its two-part series on documents discovered in Baghdad which clearly delineate how the international community assisted Saddam Hussein in avoiding the effects of the UN-imposed arms embargo. Today’s installment focuses on Polish arms dealers and how they evaded their own government to sell military hardware to Iraq, via (as in yesterday’s article) Syria:
Desperate for missile technology in the summer of 2001, Iraq’s arms brokers and spies homed in on the military scrap yards of this former Soviet Bloc nation. They operated out of this town, scavenging and assembling decades-old parts that were shipped to Syria, then trucked across deserts and mountains toward Baghdad.
Documents were forged and lies were told in an elaborate network built to evade United Nations sanctions. The shipment of up to 380 missile engines from Poland was critical to Saddam Hussein’s covert program to extend the range of his new Al Samoud 2 missile beyond the limit of 150 kilometers — 93 miles — imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Such capabilities would have threatened regional stability by enabling Iraq to target Israel, Kuwait and Iran.
Unlike yesterday’s installment, in this part the Times makes it clear that all military sales to Iraq were illegal, and evidence of them clearly showed Iraq in material breach of UN resolutions, including 1441:
In his dramatic U.N. speech Feb. 5, less than two months before the March 20 invasion, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell highlighted Iraq’s procurement of the Volga/SA-2 engines as one reason for war. “Their import was illegal,” Powell said of the engines, adding that the U.N. arms embargo prohibited “all military shipments to Iraq.”
Read the entire article, which delves into the dark world of arms procurement and shady dealings under the auspices of countries that insisted Saddam was being kept isolated and disarmed by inspection regimes. Madeline Albright, for example, declared recently that Saddam was not a threat because of the international arms embargo and the policy of containment that Bush dumped in favor of direct war.
After reading these two articles based on documents recovered from just one office in Baghdad, it should be clear to those who can read that the “containment” and the arms embargo was a dangerous sham, and even that was about to collapse under the weight of French and Russian demands to end sanctions against Saddam’s Iraq. Nothing could better point out the folly of leaving American security in the hands of such incompetents again.