- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

The successful allied military campaign which ended 35 years of Ba’athist tyranny in Iraq is a warning for governments which develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to threaten their neighbors. Saddam Hussein’s demise serves as a worst-case example of what can happen to a ruler who supports terrorism, develops WMD and blocks arms inspectors from doing their job: In the end, he could be stripped of his power and face trial as a war criminal.

The example was not lost on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who seized power in a 1969 military coup, and has ruled that country with an iron hand ever since. In what appears to be a huge win for American and British diplomacy, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Friday that Col. Gadhafi has agreed to eliminate his WMD programs. Libya announced that it is ready to accept strict International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards and to work with teams of international specialists to destroy other dangerous weapons in its arsenal. (The announcement came just two days before the 15th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people — the overwhelming majority of them Americans — were killed. A Libyan agent has been convicted of carrying out the bombing.)

A senior Bush administration official said that Libya’s nuclear weapons program was more advanced than U.S. and British officials had previously suspected. That program included centrifuges, which Libya had successfully concealed, that could be used to enrich weapons-grade uranium. The administration expects that Libyan cooperation will help allied officials learn whether Libya had produced or purchased such uranium. Libya also admitted that it produced mustard gas and bought Scud-C ballistic missiles made in North Korea, which can hit targets 500 miles away.

Mr. Blair said that the diplomacy leading to Friday’s announcement began in March, when Col. Gadhafi approached British officials —just as the U.S.-British military campaign that removed Saddam from power was about to begin. Although the United States, like Britain, welcomes the Libyan declaration that it is dismantling its WMD programs, Washington does not plan to lift U.S. sanctions until it can verify that Libya has ended its WMD efforts.

Also, the United States will also insist that Libya —which has long been on the State Department’s list of terrorism-sponsoring states — end all support for terror. Just four months ago, Abdurahman Alamoudi, an American citizen, was stopped at London’s Heathrow Airport while carrying $340,000 in cash as he prepared to fly to Damascus. Insight magazine’s J. Michael Waller reported that the federal government alleges that the money, which came from Libya, was destined for terrorist groups.

If Mr. Gadhafi wants better relations with Washington, that’s the kind of activity the Bush administration will demand that he stop.

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