- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2000

Saddam Hussein is busy trying to put together a kind of rogue nation alliance to challenge American strength. Saddam has reached out to Yugoslavia, Russia and, possibly, to North Korea and Sudan with this ambition in mind.

On Tuesday, Iraq's Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said his country is "keen to expand full cooperation with Yugoslavia which stood firm in the face of the American aggression," according to the official Iraqi News Agency. This budding alliance is worrisome because while Yugoslavia has fissile material, Iraq has missile technology. If these two countries start swapping with each other, global security would be undermined. "It is our duty to resist American policy, which is aggressive, imperialist, unjust and aims to take away the rights of people everywhere," Mr. Ramadan told visiting Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Maja Gojkovic. The Iraqi vice president didn't elaborate on just what he meant by "resist American policy," but in view of Saddam's favored tactics, this comment should make U.S. officials wary.

In addition, Iraq also recently congratulated Russia's Vladimir Putin on winning this week's presidential election. Iraq has plenty of incentive to cozy up to Russia. As reported by The Washington Times' Bill Gertz, Russia, along with China, is continuing to provide nuclear and missile technology and goods to rogue nations, such as Iran and North Korea. Surely, Saddam would like in on the deal.

Most worrisome, however, is the prospect that Saddam is having himself a $475 million missile factory constructed in Sudan, using North Korean missile technology and manpower a possibility proposed by William Safire in a March 23 column. Mr. Safire was first tipped off by an article by Mr. Gertz, which cited a Pentagon intelligence agency report that said that North Korea offered to sell the government of Sudan an entire factory for assembling Scud missiles.

Since Sudan presumably wouldn't have the funds or need for long-range missiles, there seemed to be more to the story. According to Mr. Safire's sources, Sudan would provide only the site for the factory while Saddam would pay for and own the weapons. Only about five weeks ago, North Korean technical experts and Iraqi military researchers met in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, to discuss plans on the ballistic-missile plant.

All this should give U.S. officials pause. The White House's containment policy on Iraq has been ineffective. Saddam kicked out weapons inspectors in 1998 and has successfully smuggled out Iraqi oil, giving him access to millions of dollars in unmonitored oil revenue each month. This money is sure to go to the purchase of weapons.

In a March 26 television interview, former arms inspector Richard Butler said "It would be utter folly not to assume that they're back in the business of making chemical and biological warheads for long-range missiles." Saddam continues determined to make a global menace of himself. If Saddam is successful in uniting the rogue powers of the world, he could fortify his power to cause harm to the region and beyond.

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