Nuclear weapons cause war
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi tried for many years to obtain nuclear weapons. The reason was, he said, that Israel had nukes. The desire for nuclear weapons is contagious. In the 1980s a rumor circulated that Gaddafi had made an offer on the international nuclear bazaar of one billion US dollars for a nuclear bomb. No bomb was available, it seems, but Gaddafi persevered. From Pakistan and Abdul Khadeer Khan, the star salesman for nuclear weapons technology, he bought equipment and competence, blueprints and scientists.
Early after the year 2000, the Libyan dictator wanted to change his image, to become an internationally respected, or at least accepted, leader. Maybe he cared primarily for his son Saif al-Islam, the intended successor. Saif is reported to have participated in the negotiations with Great Britain. He is educated at the London School of Economics.
In 2003 an agreement on the nuclear program was reached. The equipment was transferred to Tennessee and was inspected by President Bush. Four thousand centrifuges, assembled or in parts, blueprints from China for a bomb and many other useful tools were found. As late as 2009 the last shipment of uranium took place. There is nothing left in Libya of the nuclear program. We are grateful.
The Colonel achieved his own goal, to a considerable degree. He was received, embraced and kissed on the cheeks by Western leaders.
If Gaddafi had not converted but instead, with resolve and with petro-dollars, continued the nuclear program, he could very well have had some useable nuclear weapons today. In that case we would now worry that Gaddafi, who by some is seen as a madman, could use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against his own people. The likely consequence of that would have been attacks or threats on the nuclear facilities by NATO and the USA. Gaddafi could have escalated by threatening to bomb cities around the Mediterranean. The government of Israel would have demanded a military invasion to stop the lunatic in Tripoli.
Had Gaddafi obtained nuclear weapons, an attack by NATO on Libya would have been likely. The situation could be compared with that in 2002 when the US government said there were nukes in Iraq. If the Bush administration had not managed to make the US population believe this, the American public would probably not have accepted an attack on Iraq. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” said Condoleezza Rice on American TV.
A land that acquires nuclear weapons, or make others believe they plan to acquire them, risks a “preventive attack.” This applies today to Iran and North Korea. Many leaders and citizens in these countries believe that nuclear weapons deter an attacker. It is the other way around:
Nuclear weapons cause war.