Who Helped Arm Saddam

GERMANS decry the Gulf conflict. Argentina and Brazil disavow their past deals with Saddam. Washington forgets its tilt toward Iraq. It's all designed to gloss over the vast arms trade that made Iraq the world's fourth ranking military power. Although Operation Desert Storm will devastate Saddam Hussein's war machine, a new bully will follow in his wake unless Washington and its European allies take steps to coordinate the control of military technology. Owing to an unbridled arms trade throughout the 1980s, Iraq is using Aerospatiale-built helicopters against French forces. Germany's Anlagen Bau Contor designed several of Saddam's chemical- and gas-warfare facilities. Swedish neutrality did not deter Saab-Scania from selling Saddam the mobile launchers that facilitate his rocket attacks on Israel and Saudi Arabia. Solid propellant from Austria's LIM Kuntstoff Technologie enhanced the range of Saddam's Scuds.

As the Jan. 15 deadline approached, more than 100 companies in Germany, and some in other countries, were still providing Saddam with military and nuclear know-how in violation of the United Nations embargo.

The Gulf war can't shut down the Latin American network Saddam established to develop terror weapons. During the early 1980s, Saddam assisted military regimes in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile that were working with German and other European firms to develop advanced weapons technology. These distant venues gave him protection from possible preemptive strikes by Iran and Israel.

After providing Argentina's junta with Exocet missiles in the Falklands war, Iraq helped fund the Condor II, a medium-range guided missile. Conson, affiliated with Germans arms giant Krupp, provided the Condor project's shell organization. Messerschmidt, MAN, and Wegmann, all German firms, provided rocketry know-how. Fiat-SNIA of Italy, Bofors of Sweden, and France's SEGEM all played important roles in designing the Condor's guidance system.

By the time Argentine officials informed Washington last year that the project was ``frozen'' for lack of funds, Condor technology had been transferred to Iraq, where Saddam's German-trained experts have used it to increase the range of their ``generic Scud'' medium-range missiles.

Brazil's arms trade with Iraq was designed to offset the former's huge energy costs; during the 1980s, Saddam provided Brazil with over half its oil needs. In a deal that avoided International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, Brazil diverted uranium-enrichment technology it acquired through a 1975 nuclear cooperation treaty with Germany from its military-run Aramar nuclear center to Iraq. The technology was provided by Interatom, a subsidiary of German electronics giant Siemens.

Key man in the Baghdad-Brazil weapons axis is Hugo Piva, a retired Brazilian air force brigadier. A CalTech Ph.D., Piva operated a consulting firm that provided scientists and equipment to Saddam's nuclear and guided-missile programs. Piva - the ``Brazilian von Braun'' - also supervised Brazil's first shipment of yellow cake uranium to Saddam's nuclear program in 1981.

Another link in Saddam's Latin arms network is Chilean weapons manufacturer Carlos Cardoen, who has been selling Saddam cluster bombs since 1982. Cardoen used Iraqi funds to develop a combustion bomb known as the fuel air explosive, which has the explosive power of a tactical nuclear devise; upon impact, it releases a cloud of fuel that explodes into a ball of fire. It can be used as a warhead on Saddam's Scuds and artillery shells to blow up oil fields.

To prevent the next Saddam, industrial nations will need to reevaluate their strategy of relying on the sale of sophisticated weapons as a means to strengthen their export earnings and ensure the stability of client states.

The US Congress, national legislatures in Western Europe, and the European Parliament should hold hearings to determine the extent to which the Western alliance should continue to rely on a defense-driven economy. NATO nations and Japan can examine ways to apply the COCOM process, which limited Soviet access to militarily useful technology for decades, to trouble-plagued areas of the developing world. US and allied intelligence services can step up their collection of economic intelligence.

The arms trade with Iraq peaked at a time when fears of recession and a peace dividend had defense contractors worried about filling their order books. Some of the same arms manufacturers who sold to Saddam are now working hard to help destroy him. The next Saddam will have plenty of loopholes to get around treaties and arms control regimes unless nations put into place tougher monitoring arrangements and severe penalties.

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