Released January 28, 2003
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

U.S. Nuclear Threats Encourage Proliferation

by Enver Masud

One year after President Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea the "axis of evil," the United States is preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons against Iraq, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1996, it was Libya that was the potential target of a preemptive, U.S., nuclear strike.

At a Defense Department briefing on April 23, 1996, a senior defense official stated that the United States would not exclude the use of nuclear weapons to destroy a "chemical plant" at Tarhunah in Libya.

This plant, said the official, "is not in the interest of peace, not in the interest of stability, and not in the interest of world order." Then U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry confirmed that the use of nuclear weapons to destroy this "chemical weapons factory" was not excluded.

Libya insisted that the "chemical plant" was a pumping station; a part of its Great Man-Made River project.

In 1996, the second stage of this project was inaugurated by Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi as part of the celebrations marking the 27th anniversary of Libya's September 1, 1969 Revolution.

Presidents Alpha Omar Konare of Mali, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Lansana Conte of Guinea, Ibrahim Mainasara Bare of Niger and other guests including Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, joined Libyan leader Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to simultaneously push buttons which caused a barrier to open allowing the chemical compound H2O (aka water) to gush forth to fill the Garabouli dam, 60 km east of Tripoli, and to begin supplying water for drinking and irrigation to Libya's northwestern coastal plains.

Labeled by the international press as the 8th Wonder of The World, the Great Man-Made River project, launched in 1984, and built with the help of Korean firms includes 4000 km of pipelines, and two aqueducts of 1000 km. When completed it will bring five million cubic meters per day of water from desert aquifers to Libya's coastal cities. It will eventually increase the size of Libya's arable land by over 70 percent. The total cost of the huge project is expected to exceed $25 billion.

Threatening nuclear attack, when even U.S. "conventional" weapons are vastly superior to those of the "enemy," is both unnecessary, and counterproductive. It does not make America safer, it causes others to question our commitment to nuclear disarmament, and it encourages nuclear proliferation.

["More has changed on proliferation over the past year than any other issue," Tenet told the Senate intelligence committee in his worldwide threat briefing, an annual report to Congress.--Walter Pincus, "Bush Approves Nuclear Response," Washington Post, February 12, 2003]

["A classified document signed by President Bush specifically allows for the use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical attacks, apparently changing a decades-old U.S. policy of deliberate ambiguity, . . ."--Nicholas Kralev, "Bush Approves Nuclear Response," Washington Times, January 31, 2003]

["The vast and unguarded stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union pose a far greater threat than Iraq"--Richard Norton-Taylor, "Open Arms," Guardian, January 31, 2003]

["Even the most feared weapons, such as smallpox or nerve agents, would cause far fewer casualties that most people imagine, according to experts at a press briefing in London. . . .It would not take much to divert all of us [infectious disease specialists] into anthrax and smallpox, when we should be focusing on the great natural killers such as HIV, TB and influenza."--Clive Cookson, "Scientists say bioterror threat 'exaggerated'," Financial Times, January 29, 2003]

[It is far from clear precisely what WMD if any Tripoli may actually possess and the task of verification will fall to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. . . .

There was also a suspicion that last night's announcements were stage-managed to divert attention from the failure of the US and Britain to discover any WMD in Iraq - the purported reason for the invasion.--Nigel Morris and Andrew Buncombe, "Libya gives up nuclear and chemical weapons," Independent, December 20, 2003] back button