A Last Chance to Stop Iraq

(New York Times) - Kenneth M. Pollack The American, British, and Israeli intelligence services believe that unless he is stopped, Saddam Hussein is likely to acquire a nuclear weapon in the second half of this decade. How will Saddam Hussein behave once he has acquired a nuclear weapon? He has been anything but circumspect about his aspirations: He has stated that he wants to turn Iraq into a "superpower" that will dominate the Middle East, to liberate Jerusalem, and to drive the United States out of the region. His half-brother and former chief of intelligence, Barzan al-Tikriti, was reported to say that Iraq needs nuclear weapons because it wants "a strong hand in order to redraw the map of the Middle East." We have heard from many intelligence sources that Saddam Hussein believes that once he has acquired nuclear weapons it is the U.S. that will be deterred. He sees these weapons as offensive - as enabling aggression. Given Saddam Hussein's current behavior, his track record, his aspirations and his terrifying beliefs about the utility of nuclear weapons, it would be reckless for us to assume that he can be deterred. Yes, we must weigh the costs of a war with Iraq today, but on the other side of the balance we must place the cost of a war with a nuclear-armed Iraq tomorrow.

2003-02-21 00:00:00

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