NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arms & Military Technology Transfers

May 21, 2003

The greatest danger we face from weapons of mass destruction, said former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, is that potential adversaries that acquire them -- such as North Korea or Iran -- will transfer them to terrorist organizations.

Speaking this week to an audience gathered by the National Center for Policy Analysis, Eagleburger said it may be possible to deter states like North Korea and Iran from deploying weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological or nuclear) but the covert transfer of technology or weapons to Al Qaeda and its ilk is more problematic.

Since totalitarian countries with command economies like North Korea are incapable of developing such weapons by themselves, where might they get them? Perhaps from the same sources as Iraq did over the past 30 years. According to a recent report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

  • Over the 1973 to 2002 period, Iraq received 57 percent of its arms -- including sales of military technology -- from the defunct Soviet Union, and another 7 percent from the defunct Czechoslovakia.
  • France and China, which are still going concerns, supplied 13 and 12 percent, respectively, of Iraq's imported military capability.
  • Countries who experienced regime change a decade ago, Poland and Romania, supplied 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

And two members of the recently formed coalition of the willing that invaded Iraq, the United States and Denmark, each had previously supplied Saddam Hussein's regime with 1 percent each.

Source: Joe Barnett (NCPA), editorial comment, May 21, 2003; "Arms transfers to Iraq, 1973-2002," Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; "Arming Saddam," Weekly Standard, April 14, 2003.


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