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Unformatted text preview: From the Shores of Tripoh _Judith Miller T HE BUSH Administration can point to only one undeni- able non-proliferation "suc- cess" so far in its tenure: Libya's decision to renounce WMD in December 2003. But the administration that so adroitly pushed Libya to abandon unconventional weapons has been unable, or in some cases unwilling, to apply the key lessons of tiiat success to its other nuclear chal- lenges. T HE RECORD now clearly shows that Colonel Muam- mar Qaddafi, Libya's eccen- tric long-time ruler, did not rush into nuclear disarmament primarily because of America's invasion of Iraq. Qaddafi first signaled his willingness to discuss his unconventional-weapons programs soon after the Soviet Union's collapse, as early as 1992. But Washington, under Democrats and Republicans alike, refused to deal given his monstrous record on terrorism. The feelers to the Clinton Ad- ministration went nowhere because they preceded Qaddafi's surrender of two Lib- yan operatives suspected of blowing up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in Judith Miller is an author and a former reporter for The New York Times. She currendy writes for The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Sun, and other publications on national security, the Middle East, WMD and counter-terrorism. which 259 (mostly American) passengers and crew had died. Ultimately, Qaddafi agreed to pay $2.7 billion to the famihes of Lockerbie victims—$10 million per victim—and miUions more to compensate families of earlier victims of terrorist at- tacks. He also accepted responsibility for terrorist acts committed by two Libyan intelligence officers while continuing to deny his own perfectly obvious complic- ity in the crime. By then, however, the Clinton Administration had left office. Isolated and largely ignored, Qad- dafi grew alarmed by the incoming Bush Administration's new counter-prolifera- tion agenda and the growing visibility of such militant Islamic groups at home as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Sensing the prevailing political winds, Qaddafi was among the first to condemn the September 11 attacks. Through in- telligence channels, Libya gave the ad- ministration a list of potential suspects, including Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who was subsequently arrested in Pakistan and turned out to be a key Al-Qaeda opera- tive. Qaddafi also delivered a golden non- proliferation nugget: A group in Pakistan close to A. Q. Khan had offered to sell Libya nuclear material. This was evidence of Pakistan's dangerous nuclear network as well as Libya's nuclear program, both of which U.S. intelhgence services could not previously verify. Washington would never have confirmed either without the U.S.-Libyan dialogue, ostensibly limited 26--The National Interest—May/Jun. 2007- to terrorism....
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- Spring '09
- Nuclear Fission, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Nuclear weapon