The World's Most Dangerous Man

Saddam Hussein is amassing a truly terrifying arsenal.

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This story originally appeared in the June 4, 1990, issue of U.S.News & World Report.

In this strange season of political upheaval, with the lights of dictators winking out around the globe, the world suddenly seems a saner and safer place. But as Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush confer this week, providing a little new hope for safety and sanity, in ancient Baghdad, half a world away, a dangerous man with great ambitions is hosting a summit of his own.

While Bush and Gorbachev are signing agreements to reduce their arsenals of chemical and nuclear arms, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the host of the Arab summit, continues to spend billions of dollars in the pursuit and development of those very same weapons. What is even more troubling is that while the superpowers are trying to ensure that their bulging arsenals are never used, Hussein has already lobbed his nerve gas not only at his archenemies in Iran but at some of his own people, killing several hundred Kurdish tribesmen. It is no small irony that this new threat to peace and stability is coming from Mesopotamia, from the cradle of civilization, but if Saddam Hussein has taken note of the fact, he has not deigned to comment on it. He is not, after all, a man much inclined to humor. What he is, demonstrably, is the most dangerous man in the world.

In his ruthless and obsessive quest to become the "Sword of the Arabs," as Hussein lately has styled himself, he has relied upon the complicity of Western and other governments, the greed of middlemen, and a clandestine arms-procurement network with front companies in the U.S. and Europe. The Atlanta branch of Italy's biggest state-owned bank extended more than $ 1 billion in credit for Iraqi arms deals, U.S. officials say. A Canadian ballistics and rocket expert was helping Hussein build the world's biggest gun when he was mysteriously murdered in Brussels, and Iraq obtained hundreds of tons of a chemical used to make mustard gas from a Baltimore manufacturer before the transaction was caught by U.S. Customs.

The fateful combination that fuels Iraq's drive for military power is at once simple and familiar: Money, militarism and ego. With virtually unlimited funds from an oil industry that has an estimated 10 percent of the world's petroleum reserves, he has infinitely more cash to spend on instruments of destruction than Iran, Libya or North Korea. The U.S. intelligence community has consistently underestimated Iraq's military capabilities, but now a growing number of intelligence officials believe Hussein may have a nuclear-weapons capability in between two and five years. And unlike Kim Il Sung in North Korea, Hussein's ambitions are not contained by a powerful military on his border. His phenomenal military spending, estimated by some intelligence officials at as much as $50 billion over the past decade, has made him the world's single biggest buyer on the international market of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry.

Even more frightening than his capabilities are the ample indications that Hussein has few qualms about using them. "I swear to God," he said in a statement printed around the world a few weeks ago, "we will let our fire scorch half of Israel if it tries to wage anything against us." Defenders of the Iraqi leader point out that he threatened to use force only in retaliation for an Israeli attack. But he is so isolated, both from his own people and from the international community, that no one knows for sure what he might do.

Worse, there is virtually no one, at home or abroad, who can restrain his worst impulses. He has few friends, even in the Arab world, and fewer and fewer within Iraq's own political structure. He has stubbed out rivals, real and imagined, like cigarette butts, and Western intelligence agencies have reported several instances in which he has pulled the trigger himself. Hussein committed his first murder at 14, attempted his first political assassination at 22, and there is no evidence to suggest he has broken the habit. The State Department calls Iraq's human-rights record "abysmal" and says the country continues to harbor several of the world's most notorious terrorists.

In recent years, moreover, what few constraints there were on Hussein have withered. The Ba'ath Socialist Party, which he rode to power, and the Revolutionary Command Council, which he dominated once he got there, have both fallen into decline, and more and more of the business of government is being handled by trusted members of Hussein's own family. Thus isolated, Hussein charts his own increasingly dangerous course. "He understands Iraq," says Amatzia Bar'am, a professor at Haifa University and one of the world's foremost scholars on Iraq. "But he doesn't understand how the American administration, Israel or Iran think. His advisers are afraid to give him bad news [and] ... he is prone to make mistakes because he doesn't understand many things outside Iraq." With no back channel to Israel, the potential for a crisis arising from miscommunication seems especially high.

The growing numbers of Soviet Jews emigrating to Israel and the continued violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and now in Israel itself, have inflamed the Arab world, and Hussein has suddenly returned to the conflict with Israel with a vengeance, hailed by his brethren as the only Arab leader willing to stand up to Israel.

A megalomaniac reminiscent of deposed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Hussein is no stranger to self-aggrandizement. Besides the ubiquitous posters of him around Baghdad, the city where Scheherazade once whiled away a thousand and one nights with her exotic tales, Hussein has taken to telling some tall tales of his own, styling himself in the image of the great Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar and Hammurabi. Like Ceausescu and Kim Il Sung, he also likes titles. Before becoming the "Sword of the Arabs," he was the "indispensable leader" and "historical leader."

And now he is equipped to be as good as his word. Hussein's nonstop shopping has bought him a fundamental change in the strategic balance of the Middle East. No longer can Israel readily consider a preventive strike, as it did in 1981, when its bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak. And military analysts say that with its fleet of missiles constantly being improved, by the mid-1990s Iraq will be able to hit targets inside Israel without entering Israeli airspace. "Are we as a state and as a people ready for this challenge and able to deal with it?" Retired Maj. Gen. David Ivry, the director general of Israel's Ministry of Defense, asked recently. "In my opinion, No."

How Hussein has managed this transformation is as much a measure of his own ruthlessness as it is of the see-no-evil arms dealers around the globe, and of their respective governments that, almost every time the capacious pockets of Iraq opened up, offered a free and friendly hand to make sure deals got done.

With French assistance, Iraq has built an entire electronics complex and can now construct its own integrated electronic circuits for use in missile-guidance systems and other military applications.

In the U.S., as elsewhere, the motive for helping Iraq get weapons has been greed. When Iraq was at war with Iran, the official U.S. policy was to "tilt" toward Iraq. But that did not mean U.S. companies could sell weapons to Iraq, which was designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. Unfortunately, the legal prohibitions never seemed to amount to much.

Sleeping policemen. In 1982, with an O.K. from the U.S. Commerce Department, Hughes Aircraft Company sold Iraq 60 small, bubble-topped helicopters for $25 million. The middleman was Iraq's most prolific arms broker, a genial Lebanese named Sarkis Soghanalian. In 1985, Soghanalian brokered another deal, this time for 26 McDonnell-Douglas-Hughes choppers worth $27.4 million, and former Atty. Gen. John Mitchell assisted with the transaction. Again, Commerce approved.

The holes in the U.S. net were everywhere. In 1985, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (CDC) sent three shipments of something called West Nile Fever virus to Iraq. The virus causes wrenching nausea and mild fever, and it had infected two Israeli military installations. CDC officials note that it kills only 1 percent of those it afflicts, and they say they sent the virus to Iraq because they knew the doctor who requested it and believed it would be used for research. The CDC made no attempt to verify that, however, and congressional investigators inquired whether the virus might have been used in Iraq's biological-weapons program. In any event, the CDC has since re-examined its criteria for filling such requests, doctors there say.

Occasionally, but only with great effort, some of the holes in the U.S. net were plugged. In 1986, a Pentagon official named Stephen Bryen learned of a shipment of large analog computers to Iraq's Saad-16 missile-development complex. Commerce said the computers had no military use and approved the shipment. "We got hold of the advertising literature [for the computers]," Bryen says, "and it bragged about their military applications." It would take a year, but Bryen finally succeeded in blocking the shipment.

Just last year, there was another rare success. A London company that supposedly specialized in exporting minihamburgers to the Middle East approached a San Marcos, Calif., electronics firm and inquired about buying high-energy capacitors that could be used to help detonate a nuclear explosion. What would a hamburger outfit want with capacitors like that, the company owner wondered. He quickly alerted a U.S. Customs agent in San Diego, who posed as an export manager for the firm and proceeded to negotiate the transaction with three Iraqi government engineers and two employes of the alleged hamburger firm, Euromac, Ltd. Earlier this year, the sting operation hit pay dirt. All five persons have been indicted in the U.S. and Britain, but the three Iraqis have vanished, and Hussein himself has since boasted publicly that Iraq has obtained the same type of capacitors from another source.

What makes all this weaponry especially frightening is the fact that Iraq is rapidly acquiring an impressive arsenal of missiles to deliver it. With help from West Germany, Austria and perhaps Brazil, Iraq is pursuing both solid and liquid-fueled missiles and is believed to have spent well over $1 billion on the program so far. A joint missile program with Egypt and Argentina has largely been abandoned, but Iraq has taken elements of the program, called Condor II, to upgrade the guidance and warhead technology on its existing al-Abbas and al-Husayn missiles. "The bottom line," says Michael Eisenstadt, a military analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, "is that the al-Abbas and al-Husayn will give Iraq the strategic deterrent capability that it needs."

Family ties. For this, Hussein can be given much of the credit. He chose his No.2 man wisely and placed him in charge of Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Military Industries. Hussein Kamil al-Majid is married to Saddam Hussein's daughter Ghard, and he supervised the expansion of the elite Republican Guard. A third man, Lt. Gen. Amer Hamoudi al-Saadi, has done a brilliant job overseeing Iraq's missile program. Both Kamil and al-Saadi have been wise, electing to build what can be built inside Iraq and buying the rest outside through front companies like the Euromac hamburger firm. "The Iraqis are doing the best job of any Third World country in collecting high tech in the military field," says Haifa University's Bar'am. "... Their fingerprints never appear."

Given the obvious dangers, it would seem imperative for the U.S. to try to impose whatever constraints it can on Saddam Hussein. But the Bush administration's view, in the words of John Kelly, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, is that "there is still a potentiality for positive alterations in Iraqi behavior." Others, in and out of the government, are not so sure. Some wonder about a potential attack on neighboring Kuwait, or on Saudi Arabia, if an attack on Israel does not come first. Others cite the brutality of the Hussein regime and ask why the U.S. does not take action to express its displeasure. "You accurately recite a chamber of horrors," Representative Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) told Assistant Secretary Kelly recently, "and then you sort of express the hope ... that Iraq under Saddam Hussein will turn in the direction of being a responsible and peace-loving member of the international community." What Iraq is, for the time being, is the most dangerous and destabilizing member. Here is a glimpse of how it got that way:


Following the tangled money trail

The trouble that Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro has seen is no small matter. Former BNL officials are the subject of a grand-jury inquiry in the U.S., while at headquarters in Rome the bank's chairman and director general have resigned. Ten employes at the BNL branch in Atlanta have been fired. A half-dozen lawsuits have been filed. Still, BNL would be just another bank in hot water except for the fact that the business that got it there has much to do with the way the government of Iraq pursues and pays for sensitive Western technology. In this case, the $3 billion in unauthorized loans and letters of credit BNL's Atlanta branch issued would have been a wonderfully discreet way to finance a weapons plant, but it didn't quite work out that way.

It began with an ambitious American banker named Christopher Drogoul, BNL's Atlanta branch manager. He was driven, friends say, by suggestions from Rome that the branch would soon be closed. Before long, however, Drogoul found some Iraqi government representatives who wanted credit to pay for U.S. grain, frozen poultry and other commodities. Within months, BNL had extended them millions of dollars.

That deal marked the beginning of a relationship that would lead to 2,500 letters of credit and loans. BNL soon found itself underwriting an ambitious Iraqi shopping list, many of the items on it classified by Western governments as "dual use," meaning they have both industrial and military applications. Iraq, U.S. officials say, used as much as a billion dollars of BNL credit to purchase such equipment to build weapons. One American company, Lummus Crest of Bloomfield, N.J., was given $53.8 million in credit for construction of a petrochemical plant near Baghdad. Another, XYZ Options of Tuscaloosa, Ala., arranged to sell Iraq $14 million worth of machinery to make carbide tools, but was prevented from delivering a precision grinder after U.S. officials questioned its ultimate use. Still other funds went to finance the purchase of either high-tech companies themselves or the construction in Iraq of new factories that will soon become state property.

The transactions were complex. Take the sale of Matrix-Churchill. A British machinery firm, it hadn't made a profit in a decade. Nevertheless, the company was purchased in 1987 by TMG Engineering, which in turn was controlled by TDG, a subsidiary of Al-Arabi Trading, a Baghdad holding company with close ties to Saddam Hussein's government. Within two years, Iraq had used $16 million in BNL credit to purchase precision lathes and other equipment from Matrix-Churchill. TDG officials have denied that their company is controlled by the Iraqi government.

That wasn't the end of it. According to Britain's Financial Times newspaper, TDG also had a hand in buying a Northern Ireland aerospace company, Lear Fan, which specializes in composite plastics, the kind used to make advanced airplanes and, conceivably, missiles. A partner in the deal was SRC Engineering, a company run by Gerald Bull, the arms dealer and engineer who had sold Iraq on his supercannon, known as the Big Gun. The new aerospace firm, SRC Composites, applied to Northern Ireland for a start-up grant of more than $1 million. British officials, fearful that SRC Composites' real mission was making missile parts, quashed the grant on Aug. 14, 1989, effectively killing the project.

The weapons laboratories of Iraq and the machinations of SRC and Al-Arabi Trading are a long way from Atlanta. There, Drogoul now faces the federal investigation and a racketeering suit filed by BNL. Drogoul's lawyer concedes that his client failed to report the proper loan-risk information to the Federal Reserve and the correct amount of the loans to BNL's New York office. But he says his client earned no bonuses or personal commissions on the business. For its part, BNL recently agreed to make good on the outstanding letters of credit in dispute, which means Iraq will get most of the technology it wanted. With results like this, there is no reason to expect that Iraq will stop its byzantine procurement practices anytime soon.


A make-my-day superweapon

If anything galvanized the West's attention on Iraq, it was evidence that Gerald Bull, a renegade, naturalized-American artillery genius, was helping Baghdad build the world's biggest gun. But it wasn't until Bull was shot to death outside his Brussels apartment on March 22 with $20,000 untouched in his pocket—and after customs agents across Europe seized 298 tons of massive polished steel tubes headed for Iraq—that the mysterious project was revealed.

Bull himself was something of a mystery. He was given to hyperbole and self-promotion, but he was also brilliant and of unquestioned accomplishment. Born in 1928, he quickly established himself as a Canadian "whiz kid" in rocketry and ballistics. In the 1960s, he co-ran the U.S.-Canadian High Altitude Research Project (HARP) that fired probes into space with giant cannons. One, in Quebec, had a 16-inch barrel and was 172 feet long. A 120-foot version in Yuma, Ariz., set a world record by shooting a projectile 112 miles straight up. The U.S., more interested in rockets, quit the project in 1970.

Frustrated, Bull turned back to artillery design. He helped South Africa build one of the best artillery pieces in the world, the G-5 155-millimeter howitzer and its long-distance pickle-shaped shell. He used artillery shells acquired from the U.S. Army, however, and in 1980 he pleaded guilty to smuggling embargoed arms to South Africa and spent four months in prison.

After his release, a bitter Bull moved to Brussels and met Sarkis Soghanalian, a Miami businessman who was selling arms to Iraq. Soghanalian says Bull soon was trying to interest the Iraqis in building huge guns. Apparently, he succeeded. Indeed, a British Customs official told U.S. News, two big guns had been ordered and one, code-named "Baby Babylon" by the Iraqis, already had been sent. It had a 16-inch bore and was about 120 feet long—the same size as one of the Bull guns in HARP. But it failed during testing in Iraq, and British Customs seized the replacement parts. The second, "Big Babylon," was to be the monster, 512 feet long with a 39-inch bore. It was to be built of 52 pieces; apparently, 44 of them already had been sent to Iraq when the others were intercepted.

Big Babylon would have been the fulfillment of Bull's dream—and Saddam Hussein's, too. Such a gun, mounted at a 45-degree angle and shooting rocket-boosted projectiles, could obtain unheard-of distances—or launch satellites, as Bull wrote in a book published in 1988. He estimated that a three-stage rocket shot out of his smaller 16-inch gun could fly 5,000 miles. In theory then, the supergun would have been able to lob huge projectiles at Iraq's enemies for much less than the cost of ballistic missiles. The falling shells might penetrate antimissile defenses being built by Israel—surely an attractive idea to Hussein.

But would it have worked? Chuck Bernard, a former Navy rocket-and-ballistics expert who worked with Bull in the early 1960s, contends that what might be gained militarily by the gun's long range would be lost in its inaccuracy. And some military analysts argue that a monstrous gun pointed at, say, Tel Aviv would have been an easy target for Israeli bombers. Could it have been a launcher for spy or communications satellites instead? "We guess it certainly was intended as a launcher for satellites, but there's no reason to preclude launching anything else," said a British Customs spokesman. "Remember, what goes up might well come down."


How quickly can Iraq get the bomb?

The most troubling single question about Iraq's growing arsenal is how close Saddam Hussein is to having nuclear weapons. The official U.S. estimate is that Iraq won't be a nuclear power for five to 10 years. But an increasing number of U.S. intelligence officials, as well as British and Israeli experts, believe Iraq could acquire a nuclear capability in as few as two to five years.

Baghdad is sparing no expense in its pursuit of the bomb. Following Israel's 1981 attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, Hussein seems to have followed the example of Pakistan and China and begun seeking an easily concealed enrichment process that can produce weapons-grade uranium.

Using this method, uranium ore is first converted in a chemical process to uranium hexafluoride gas. Iraq already has 250 tons of uranium concentrate, called yellowcake, legally purchased a decade ago from Niger, Portugal, Brazil and Italy. The stockpile is not subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. An Iraqi industrial complex at al-Qaim, built by European companies, which ostensibly processes phosphate ore, also has plants that can produce hydrogen fluoride that can be used to make nerve gas or to make uranium hexafluoride gas. Most press coverage of Iraq's nuclear effort has concentrated on 27 pounds of weapons-grade uranium that survived Israel's 1981 bombing, but that uranium is regularly inspected by the IAEA and is unlikely to be used for a weapons program except in dire circumstances.

A question of time. The biggest missing pieces of the puzzle are how far Iraq has progressed in building a centrifuge plant for enriching uranium hexafluoride gas, and where the Iraqis are conducting their centrifuge research. The U.S. is fairly confident that Iraq does not yet have a prototype centrifuge plant running, and that belief is largely behind the 5-to-10-year estimate. But, says W. Seth Carus, a missile expert at the U.S. Naval War College Foundation and a longtime observer of Iraqi weapons programs: "If I were doing it and I were them, I'd have it in a place where you couldn't take pictures of it, underground and preferably in the side of a mountain."

U.S. officials admit that their assessment has another major loophole. "The estimate has a caveat—that they don't get significant assistance from abroad," says one administration expert.

But a growing body of evidence suggests that Iraq's nuclear program is getting considerable foreign assistance from West German companies, China and perhaps Pakistan. U.S. intelligence officials say Pakistan may be contributing to the Iraqi nuclear effort by providing Baghdad with vital expertise and technology for its uranium-enrichment program, in return for cooperation on acquiring restricted items.

The American nuclear capacitors that were confiscated in London last March, and a shipment of vacuum diffusion pumps that U.S. Customs officials seized in March, 1989, are both items that Pakistan may be seeking for a second enrichment plant it reportedly is constructing at Golra. Cardoen Industries, a Chilean arms company with close ties to Iraq, is suspected of transshipping sophisticated oscilloscopes from Europe to Iraq for testing detonating devices. Carlos Cardoen, head of the company, denies selling any oscilloscopes to Iraq. Officials in Bonn say a West German company, H & H Metalform, has sent equipment suitable for manufacturing centrifuges to Iraq, and at least two German technicians are believed to have helped Iraq assemble a plant for the equipment. U.S. intelligence officials say that China is helping Iraq to manufacture the special magnets needed to balance the centrifuges.

Experts say Iraq would need 1,000 centrifuges working for a year to enrich enough uranium to make one bomb. Synchronizing the centrifuges is a complex task: They fly apart if not aligned properly. And even if they work, they tend to break down easily. Special magnets are needed to minimize friction. Vacuum pumps and piping move the uranium hexafluoride gas from one centrifuge to another, in what is known as a cascade.

U.S. officials assume it will take Iraqi engineers time to master the mechanics and techniques needed to build and operate a centrifuge enrichment plant. But Simon Henderson, the former editor of MidEast Markets, believes Iraqi engineers, with their experience in Iraq's flourishing arms industry, will have less difficulty building a centrifuge plant than did Pakistan. "Making centrifuges work stretched the Pakistanis' capabilities, but it doesn't necessarily stretch Iraqi capabilities," he says.

How fast Iraq acquires a bomb also depends on what kind of nuclear device it wants. The fastest route, says nuclear expert Leonard Spector of the Carnegie Endowment, would be for Iraq to build a uranium bomb using an implosion method, as soon as it has amassed enough weapons-grade material. This type of bomb would require non-nuclear testing, but the tests could be conducted secretly in a building or underground. One or two unwieldy bombs might be enough to intimidate Iraq's Persian Gulf neighbors, but they would be unlikely to provide the deterrent Iraq wants against nuclear-armed Israel. More likely, Hussein will keep his program secret until he can build nuclear warheads, a more lengthy and complicated process but one that eventually could make him the most feared leader in the Middle East.


From Baltimore to Baghdad

Dennis Bass was feeling good. The special agent for the U.S. Customs Service had put his reputation on the line to track 120 tons of poison-gas chemicals sent illegally from Baltimore through ports halfway around the world to Iran. Now, he could laugh, for his men had filled the chemical drums with water instead. "Can you imagine how the Iranians felt when they opened them up and all they had was water," Bass mused. "Maybe even the Ayatollah found out."

When Bass searched the offices of the chemical manufacturer, however, he got a nasty surprise. Documents buried in the files of Alcolac International, located in Baltimore, showed that Bass and his colleagues had missed a second shipment of chemicals used in the production of mustard gas. Nearly 300 barrels of the stuff, 520 tons, had gone not to Iran, but to Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq. "Here's a company in Baltimore," Bass said in disgust, "that's supplying both sides of a war effort."

Even with search warrants and a trip to Switzerland, it took Bass nearly a year to unravel Alcolac's web of dealings with Iraq. When he did, he found a network that stretched from Switzerland to Japan to the U.S. to Singapore, with a number of stops in between. It all began with Frans Van Anraat, a mysterious European businessman who ran a Singapore company that bought and sold chemicals. In 1984, Bass says, Van Anraat was introduced to Charles Tanaka, an export-import agent in Japan. Van Anraat was looking for a chemical called thiodiglycol, a key ingredient in mustard gas. Tanaka found some in Japan, and shipped it to Europe for Van Anraat, who sent it on to Iraq.

But in early 1987, as Iran and Iraq bombarded each other with chemical weapons, thiodiglycol became scarce. Tanaka couldn't get enough from Japan to satisfy Van Anraat and Iraq, and Iran wanted it, too. Tanaka turned to America, a riskier proposition because by then the U.S. had banned such shipments. Tanaka quietly called Harold Greenberg, a friend who ran a Brooklyn sheet-metal export business, and Greenberg sent his partner Nick Defino out in search of thiodiglycol. Defino got off to a bad start, Bass says, when he mistakenly called Morton Thiokol, a giant chemical producer. Defino started by asking to buy "thiokol." "You want to buy our company?" came the response. Eventually, Defino got things straightened out and hooked up with Alcolac. Up until then, says Bass, Alcolac sold only small amounts of thiodiglycol, which is also used in making ballpoint pens. The Defino-Greenberg offer was very attractive. They wanted to broker hundreds of tons, a million dollars' worth. Their cut would be 1 cent a pound.

Government documents show that Alcolac export manager Leslie Hinkleman and the brokers considered shipping it to Monrovia, Liberia, or to a nonexistent company in Antwerp. They finally settled on "Western Europe," labeling the chemical "textile additive." Where it really went, Bass says, Hinkleman didn't ask. Then, an Alcolac accountant heard that U.S. companies were illegally sending thiodiglycol to Iraq. He voiced concern, and top company officials stopped the shipments when they could not determine precisely where the chemical was going. The shipments to Iran continued, Bass believes, because the brokers' papers showed a legal destination—Singapore. In the end, federal charges were brought for export violations. Greenberg, Defino and Hinkleman pleaded guilty to one count each, and Alcolac could be fined up to $1 million.

But how to catch Tanaka and Van Anraat? Tanaka, it turned out, was easy. Customs had Greenberg tell Tanaka the coast was clear to return to America to sell Japanese fingerprint technology, of all things, to police here. When Tanaka stepped off the plane, he was nabbed. He later pleaded guilty. Van Anraat remains at large in Europe.

Back in Baltimore, Customs agents acknowledge that tips and dumb luck play a large role in finding such smugglers. Iraq is reaching out to companies all over the globe. Yet in all of Maryland, with the bustling ports of Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Customs has just five export investigators. Against that kind of competition, the odds against stopping illegal shipments to outlaw states like Iraq are long indeed. Bass is struck by how Iraq's vast arms network is built around an international network of middlemen who will sell anything for a buck. "If someone asked for bicycle tires, or someone asked for mustard gas," says Bass, "I don't think it would have made a difference to Frans Van Anraat."

A sampling of the weapons delivered to Iraq in the 1980s

500 EE-3 Jararaca and EE-9 Cascavel armored reconnaissance vehicles
1,500 T-59 and T-69 main battle tanks
80 J-7 fighters
1,000 BMP-1 armored infantry fighting vehicles
100 Multiple rocket launchers
94 Mirage F1 fighters
300 AML-60 and AML-90 armored reconnaissance vehicles
60 Roland surface-to-air missiles
700 Exocet air-to-surface missiles
200 155-mm howitzers
500 T-72 main battle tanks
1,000 T-62 main battle tanks
350 Scud-B surface-to-surface missiles
25 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters
33 MiG-25 Foxbat fighters
70 MiG-23BN Flogger fighters
70 MiG-21 Fishbed fighters
30 Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack fighters
50 Su-20 Fitter ground attack fighters
8 Tu-22 Blinder bombers
8 Tu-16 Badger bombers
500 122-mm towed howitzers

Other known export sales to Iraq

Britain........Computer-controlled machinery

Belgium........Mustard gas components

France.........Nuclear reactor, missile-navigation systems

Italy..........Uranium ore and nuclear technology

Sweden.........Assistance in missile projects

U.S............Computers, test equipment, helicopters

West Germany...Heavy-duty pumps

USN&WR—Basic data: International Institute of Strategic Studies; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI); Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control


Missile Range Payload Status
al-Abid 1,250 mi. ? Tested Dec. '89, as satellite launcher
Tammuz 1,250 mi. ? Tested, Dec. '89
Condor II 600 mi. 1,000 lb. Development delayed
al-Abbas 560 mi. 250 lb. or more Flight-tested
al-Husayn 400 mi. 300-860 lb. Modified Scud, used against Iran
Fahd 375 mi. ? Under development
SS-300 190 mi. 2,200 lb. Buying from Brazil, engines tested
Scud-B 175 mi. 2,000 lb. Used in Iran-Iraq War
Frog-7 45 mi. 1,000 lb. Used in Iran-Iraq War

USN&WR—Basic data: The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control; congressional reports; Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; W. Seth Carus-Naval War College Foundation