- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

Rogue states learned long ago that America's spies in the sky could see everything on Earth down to a 6-inch scar on a human face. The obvious concealment for building proscribed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is to dig deep — very deep. A leftist British member of Parliament inadvertently let the cobra out of the basket when he said the elevator he took for his audience with Saddam Hussein went down so deep "that my ears popped." Yet the picture of the MP shaking hands with the dictator appeared to have been taken inside one of the umpteen palaces built since the end of the Gulf war.In other words, a go-anywhere-do-anything inspection regime voted by the U.N. Security Council (assuming no vetoes from France, Russia or China) could not possibly detect a door-sized opening on the side of a hill, covered with soil that leads down to huge underground hangars where WMDs are stored, such as a former Soviet tactical nuclear weapon purchased on the Russian black market.This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. On Nov. 15, 1974, a South Korean army patrol was on a routine patrol near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) when it noticed steam rising from the ground. Hoping they had discovered a hot spring on a chilly morning, the South Korean soldiers quickly discovered a tunnel that extended 1,000 meters south. The chatter of machine-gun fire from a North Korean guard post rapidly halted their discovery. The South Korean patrol returned fire to cover its retreat.The tunnel was designed to allow an entire North Korean division to move under the DMZ and pop up behind U.S. and Korean lines in the event of war. It was made of reinforced concrete slabs replete with electric power and lighting, weapons storage, sleeping areas and a narrow gauge railroad with carts to move troops quickly from North to South Korea.The discovery led to three more tunnels, the last one unearthed March 3, 1990. The North Koreans had been digging their way deep into South Korea for years.Col. Moammar Gadhafi, now the leader of the new African Union (that replaced the OAU), has employed thousands of Korean and Filipino workers for the past 20 years, a quarter-mile underground, building a $25 billion project that, when finished, will have more than 2,000 miles of west-east tunnel from Tunisia to Egypt, and south to the borders of the Sudan and Chad.The "Great Man-Made River Project" across the Sahara contains, besides the pipelines, huge underground storage areas every 50 miles that foreign engineers, retired from the job, say are made of reinforced concrete suitable for anything from storing supplies to hiding WMDs. Col. Gadhafi has never made a secret of his nuclear ambitions. Libya tried to buy a nuclear weapon from China in 1970 and Russia in 1992. The Western intelligence community long ago established Libya's role in helping Pakistan develop its nuclear arsenal. Libya was the intermediary in procuring Niger-mined uranium, and with direct financial assistance. Pakistani nukes, in Col. Ghadafi's mind, would eventually become the Islamic world's answer to the nuclear monopoly of the U.N. Security Council's Big Five powers.Col. Gadhafi has never made a secret of his determination to acquire a nuclear capability. In his own words, "the primary threat to Libya is Israel's arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting targets in Libya." During the 1980s, Libya succeeded in producing up to 100 tons of blister and nerve agents at its Rabta facility. The precursor chemicals were obtained from foreign sources, said the Pentagon's "Counterproliferation Paper No. 8" in October 2000. The Rabta facility was closed down in 1990 because of a fire and reopened in 1996. Meanwhile Col. Gadhafi built a deeply buried new facility at Tarhunah, southeast of Tripoli. Foreign engineers debriefed by Western intelligence services said this new facility was capable of producing up to 1,000 tons of mustard gas, 90 tons of sarin, and 1,300 tons of soman nerve agent per year. Libya also has the delivery vehicles courtesy of North Korean missile technology.The only mitigating factor in the Libyan WMD buildup is that Col. Gadhafi now is convinced that radical Islam is a bigger threat to his regime than to the U.S. and has volunteered intelligence on transnational terrorism to Western intelligence services. On the other hand, prior to his "responsible statesman" image, Col. Gadhafi, and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senoussi, the head of Libyan intelligence, had interfered with a mix of terrorism, lavishly funded subversion and overt military aggression in the internal affairs of no less than 44 countries.In October 1978, the Bobbsey twins of international terrorism airlifted 3,000 regular army troops down to the equator in a belated attempt to save fellow Muslim Idi Amin, the butcher of Uganda.In a geopolitical skit worthy of Groucho Marx, Idi Amin's army retreated without telling the Libyans. They then used the trucks assigned to the Libyans to carry their newly plundered wealth in the opposite direction. Col. Gadhafi's troops suddenly found themselves alone on the front line against the Uganda National Liberation Front. Amin fled by air to Libya and then Saudi Arabia where the House of Saud gave him digs befitting his exalted rank for life.Top terrorist spook Senoussi was also the boss of the two Libyan agents accused in the downing of Pan Am 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, which killed 270 (one of them was acquitted by the International Court in The Hague). The French government has an international warrant outstanding against Senoussi for allegedly ordering a bomb planted on the French UTA airliner that was blown out of the sky over Niger in 1989, killing 170.Col. Gadhafi, aged 27, seized power as an unknown Libyan army sergeant in September 1969. King Idris of Libya was on his yacht in the eastern Mediterranean. The new CIA station chief was on his way by car sampling the Guide Michelin's three-star restaurants along the Rhone Valley. Unbeknownst to the CIA, and by sheer coincidence, the British MI6 spook was on a similar epicurean quest in the Loire Valley on his way back from home leave. The unpredictable Libyan colonel is still in power 33 years later. Anyone for regime change?It would be irredeemably gullible to posit that Saddam has not been eagerly beavering away underground during the past 11 years. After the Gulf war, refugees from northern Iraq talked of major excavation work inside a mountain northeast of Baghdad. And it would be equally naive to think Saddam was bluffing when he was reported to have said at the end of June that Iraq would use "all weapons on all fronts" just as soon as America's military might throws the first punch.

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