Interesting story here about how and why Gadhafi decided to abandon his WMD’s:
How and why did Col. Gadhafi, the despotic, still dangerously capricious leader, decide to abandon a lifetime of revolution and terrorism and abandon the WMD programs he had pursued since seizing power in a coup in 1969? What role did American intelligence play in that decision? And how much change can Col. Gadhafi tolerate and still retain power?
Col. Gadhafi’s hip, 34-year-old son, Saif-al-Islam, told me in Vienna–where he earned an M.B.A. and lives when he’s not carrying out tasks for his father, or studying for a doctorate in political philosophy at the London School of Economics–that his father changed course because he had to. “Overnight we found ourselves in a different world,” said Saif, referring to the Sept. 11 attacks. “So Libya had to redesign its policies to cope with these new realities.”
But a review of confidential government records and interviews with current and former officials in London, Tripoli, Vienna and Washington suggest that other factors were involved. Prominent among them is a heretofore undisclosed intelligence coup–the administration’s decision in late 2003 to give Libyan officials a compact disc containing intercepts of a conversation about Libya’s nuclear weapons program between Libya’s nuclear chief and A.Q. Khan–that reinforced Col. Gadhafi’s decision to reverse course on WMD.
While analysts continue to debate his motivation, evidence suggests that a mix of intelligence, diplomacy and the use of force in Iraq helped persuade him that the weapons he had pursued since he came to power, and on which he had secretly spent $300 million ($100 million on nuclear equipment and material alone), made him more, not less, vulnerable. “The administration overstates Iraq, but its critics go too far in saying that force played no role,” says Bruce W. Jentleson, a foreign-policy adviser to Al Gore in the 2000 presidential campaign and professor at Duke University, who has written the most detailed study of why Col. Gadhafi abandoned WMD: “It was force and diplomacy, not force or diplomacy that turned Gadhafi around . . . a combination of steel and a willingness to deal.”[…]Even before 9/11, the Bush administration was focused on unconventional “new threats” to the U.S., particularly WMD in the hands of rogue states and terrorist groups. In his first speech on national security policy, in May 2001, Mr. Bush said he might use force to limit the spread of WMD to those who “seek to destroy us.” Deterrence, he said, “is no longer enough.”
Col. Gadhafi was alarmed by the new U.S. agenda, and Libyans say that the 9/11 attacks were a turning point for the Brother Leader, who was among the first to condemn them. Through intelligence channels, he sent the administration a list of suspects. He also called Hosni Mubarak in a panic, convinced that Mr. Bush would attack Libya once the Taliban had been crushed in Afghanistan, according to a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo reported last month by Time. Meanwhile, Washington increased its rhetorical pressure. Though Libya was not included in Mr. Bush’s “axis of evil,” then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton called Libya a “rogue state” determined to acquire WMD.[…]As U.S. and British troops began flooding into Kuwait, Col. Gadhafi grew agitated, diplomats said. Italian press accounts quote then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying that Col. Gadhafi had called him to say he feared he would be America’s next target. “Tell them I will do whatever they want,” said one diplomat, recounting the call. In early March 2003 just days before the start of the Iraq war, Saif and Musa Kusa, a top Libyan intelligence official, contacted the British to say that Col. Gadhafi wanted to “clear the air” about WMD programs in exchange for assurances that the U.S. would not try to topple his regime, according to several accounts. […]Libyans close to the Gadhafi family told me that after Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed in a shootout with U.S. soldiers in Mosul in July 2003, Safiya, Col. Gadhafi’s wife, angrily demanded that he do more to ensure that Saif and her other sons would not share a similar fate. Then, in early October 2003, the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Italy interdicted the “BBC China,” a German ship destined for Libya that the Americans had been tracking for nearly a year. A U.S. intelligence official informed the Libyans that the five 40-foot containers marked “used machine parts” that were offloaded from the ship contained thousands of centrifuge parts to enrich uranium, manufactured in Malaysia by the A.Q. Khan network. Stunned by the discovery, Libya fast-tracked its long-promised invitation to the British and U.S. experts to tour suspect sites. A 15-person team, headed by Mr. Kappes, then the CIA deputy director of operations, (who declined to be interviewed for this piece) entered Libya on Oct. 19 on a 10-day mission.
While Col. Gadhafi could have claimed, as Iran now does, that the enrichment equipment was for a peaceful energy program, the pretense was shattered in November when U.S. intelligence gave the Libyans a copy of a compact disc that intelligence agencies had intercepted. According to Saif and Libyan officials in Tripoli, the CD contained a recording of a long discussion on Feb. 28, 2002, about Libya’s nuclear weapons program, between Ma’atouq Mohamed Ma’atouq, the head of that clandestine effort, and A.Q. Khan. Denial of military intent was no longer an option.
The inspection team returned in December 2003, with even greater access. They were astonished by what they learned during their visits to weapons sites, labs and dual-use and military facilities. Although Libya claimed that it had no biological or germ-weapons-related facilities, and that its chemical capabilities were less than the CIA had feared, U.S. intelligence had underestimated Libya’s nuclear progress.
Libyan scientists revealed that, between 1980 and 1990, they had made about 25 tons of sulfur mustard chemical-weapons agent at the Rabta facility (which the CIA had long ago identified), produced shells for more than 3,300 chemical bombs, and tried to make a small amount of nerve agent. But they had not mastered the art of binary chemical weapons, in which chemicals come together to form a lethal agent only when the bomb explodes. Thanks to sanctions, a U.S. official wrote recently, Libya was unable to acquire an essential precursor chemical.
The nuclear front was more troubling. Not only had Libya developed highly compartmentalized chemical and nuclear programs that were often unknown even to the Libyans who worked at the facilities, they had already imported two types of centrifuges from the Khan network–aluminum P-1s, (for Pakistan-1), and 4,000 of the more advanced P-2s. By 1997, Libya had already gotten 20 preassembled P-1s from Khan and components for another 200. In 2000, it got two P-2 model centrifuges, which used stronger steel, and had ordered 10,000 more. Libya had also imported two tons of uranium hexafluoride to be fed into the centrifuges and enriched as bomb fuel. In fact, it had managed to acquire from the Khan network what it needed to produce a 10-kiloton bomb, or to make the components for one, as well as dozens of blueprints for producing and miniaturizing a warhead, usually the toughest step in producing an atomic weapon.
What is amusing is the left’s argument that Libya had been trying to sue for peace since 1998. Amusing because no one believes for one second that if Clinton thought he had a chance for a huge photo op with Gadhafi and another Nobel prize that he wouldn’t take it. Clinton would have jumped all over that.
Asking for peace is one thing. Giving up all of his WMD’s is a vastly different approach that no one believed would happen. Until Bush showed the world that he would do what needed to be done to rid the world of regimes like Saddam’s, the Taliban, and Gadhafi.