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Sometimes through deception, but often with the silent acquiescence of Western governments, Iraq was able to acquire the machines, components, tools and expertise to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as its own ballistic missiles.
In order to procure materials, Iraq created an international network of 'shells', or dummy companies, who routinely obscured technology transfers by using false end-user documents and intermediaries. Although Western intelligence agencies monitored these companies, nothing was done to prevent their activities.
The USA reportedly approved the export to Iraq of US$1.5bn worth of dual-use items, including powerful computers, precision machine tools and advanced electronics.