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War in Iraq may hurt US fight against WMD proliferation

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posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 09:59 AM
According to a recent roundtable discussion, hosted by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in Washington D.C., the United States' war in Iraq may, ultimately, end up having a negative effect on our campaign to end the proliferation of WMD, rather than a positive one.

The men listed below, made up the four-member panel, which met on April 14, 2004. They were each chosen because of their knowledge and experience with regards to the proliferation of weapons within Libya, Iran and North Korea.

W. Seth Carus, Deputy Director of the Center for Counterproliferation Research at the National Defense University,

Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute,
Robert J. Einhorn, Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former assistant secretary for nonproliferation at the U.S. Department of State,

Michael Eisenstadt, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Their purpose was to consider the facts, and to try and answer several key questions about the impact that the war against Iraq has had on our relationship with other countries. Specifically, they were trying to determine,

"Has the war produced a “demonstration effect” that will deter additional states from pursuing illicit weaponry? Or has it spurred countries to get the bomb as protection against America’s redoubtable armed forces? And what of Europe, Russia and China? Has the war made them more willing—or less—to participate in arms control efforts? And finally, to what degree has the failure to find suspected weapons in Iraq wounded the credibility of U.S. intelligence information, an essential tool for convincing other countries that such weapons exist, and are a threat?"
"...the panelists found that it is too early to draw a final conclusion on whether the Iraq war is a net plus or a net minus for arms control, however, the participants did draw narrow conclusions on a range of issues..."

Here are some excerpts from those conclusions:

Finding one: The war in Iraq had little strategic influence on the nuclear weapon programs of North Korea and Iran, and only a limited effect on Libya’s; it did, however, affect these countries’ tactics.
Countries already committed to developing nuclear weapons, such as North Korea, Iran and Libya, did not materially alter their nuclear ambitions because of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. Still, the war had a tactical effect on these states. It probably accelerated Libya’s decision to disarm, while encouraging Iran and North Korea, the more threatening cases, to persevere in their nuclear ambitions...North Korea... is thought to have thousands of underground facilities, and has declared that intrusive inspections would violate its sovereignty. If anything, the U.N. inspections that preceded the Iraq war made North Korea less likely to invite inspectors into its nuclear facilities: The Iraq case reinforced North Korea’s belief that inspections are merely a prelude to war.
Finding two: The Iraq War had little impact on U.S. behavior toward proliferant countries; U.S. actions toward North Korea and Iran would have been essentially the same without the war.
Before the Iraq war, U.S. and Iranian officials had been meeting in Geneva for limited discussions over mutual interests in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Iran’s nuclear program, however, the Bush administration failed to arrive at a consensus position on what to do: whether to bargain with Iran or to maintain its absolutist position that no nuclear program should be tolerated. This lack of consensus, rather than preoccupation with Iraq, is one explanation for why the United States failed to react vigorously when an Iranian resistance group revealed a series of secret Iranian nuclear sites in August 2002.
Finding three: The failure to find illicit weapons in Iraq has opened a large credibility gap for the Bush administration and the United States; future efforts to stop arms smuggling and to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons could suffer as a result.
The panelists agreed that the prime premise for the war in Iraq—disarming Saddam Hussein of mass destruction weapons—is now seen to be invalid. The United States called for an invasion on the strength of intelligence information that proved false. America “cried wolf” over mass destruction weapons that apparently did not exist. Thus, U.S. allies are likely to question the premise for other, similar actions that the United States might request in the future. In some cases, allies might also prove unwilling to commit troops and resources to such actions.
Finding four: By showing that the United States was willing to act unilaterally, the Iraq war encouraged other countries to become more active in nonproliferation; it led Britain, France and Germany to negotiate a deal with Iran, and it pushed China to sponsor negotiations with North Korea.
The panelists found that the Iraq war undoubtedly encouraged foreign leadership as an alternative to U.S. leadership in nonproliferation efforts. U.S. military action in Iraq, which had very limited support in Europe, spurred Europeans to show that there could be alternatives to force. As a result, Britain, France and Germany undertook negotiations with Iran over its nuclear crisis. In October 2003, foreign ministers from the three European countries convinced Iran to “freeze” its uranium enrichment program and to sign the IAEA’s additional protocol. Since then, these countries have continued to pressure Iran to honor its commitments.
Finding five: The Iraq war had unexpected consequences that may make stopping proliferation more difficult.
The presence of American troops in Iraq has created a “mutual hostage” situation with Iran. Through its influence over Iraqi Shiites just across its border, Iran can now incite attacks on U.S. and coalition soldiers—a powerful lever against the United States that did not exist before the war. At the same time, the fact that Iran’s ports and oil fields are located on the Persian Gulf means that the United States, with little military effort, could close or destroy them. The result would be to devastate Iran’s economy, which depends on oil for roughly 80% of its income. Regardless of whether the United States would ever be willing to pay the political price for taking that kind of action, it seems fair to conclude that Iran’s new power to stir up opposition in Iraq makes any U.S. threat to do so less credible.
Please go read the full text of the preceding report at this site.

Was the war against Iraq worth the payoff? It looks like we may have made matters worse for ourselves, instead of better. How much more is it going to take now, to rectify the situation? Or is that even possible anymore?

posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 10:09 AM
I agree. The Iraq war has definately exacerbated the WMD proliferation problem. The looting is another reason aside from the ones cited above. Here's an article:

WMDs for the Taking?

While U.S. troops pushed on to Baghdad, Iraqis were looting radioactive materials from once protected sites

By Rod Nordland - Newsweek, May 19 issue.

-koji K.

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