Once upon a time, everyone knew what a “weapon of mass destruction” was – it was a nuke. All the have-nuke states were in agreement on one thing: We should prevent the further international proliferation of nukes, nuke materials, nuke technologies and nuke technologists.

So, back in 1972, most of the world’s nation-states signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. All signatories agreed to share technologies (such as power reactors) and materials (such as radioactive isotopes) to be used, peacefully, for the benefit of all mankind. But, the have-not states (like Iraq) agreed not to develop or acquire nuke technologies and materials.

The International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, originally established in 1952 for the sharing of nuclear technologies and materials for peaceful purposes, was given the additional job of policing the have-not Non-Proliferation Treaty states.

In the aftermath of the Gulf War, the IAEA discovered that Iraq had secretly made considerable progress toward producing the nuke-useable fissile materials. Having failed to detect what the Iraqis had been doing, the IAEA considerably strengthened and made more rigorous and intrusive its Safeguards and Physical Protection Regime.

IAEA inspectors now have the right to inspect not only “declared” sites, but any suspect location, on short notice, in any Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory state, including Iraq. The IAEA can also employ on-site and remote environmental sampling techniques to detect “undeclared” activities.

Repeatedly, since 1997, and as recently as January of this year, the IAEA has certified that Iraq now has no nukes or nuke infrastructure. Yet, President Clinton bombed them periodically, anyway. Before the dust had settled at the World Trade Center, there were demands that we again bomb – perhaps invade – Iraq. Not to do so was equated to surrender in the war against terrorists.

Surrender? Howzat?

Well, you see, the war-hawks claim that (a) Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and that (b) Iraq provided support to Egyptian terrorist Atta and his Islamic weapons-of-mass-destruction squads.

There was a time when only a nuke was a weapon of mass destruction, and we know Iraq has never had nukes. So, insecticides and disease germs became weapons of mass destruction. After the twin-tower bombing, a load of fertilizer soaked in fuel oil was a weapon of mass destruction.

Well, the Sept. 11 terrorists were armed with a new class of weapons of mass destruction: box-cutters! Are we to invade Iraq to destroy their box-cutter factories?

Of course, you say, that’s not fair. The weapons of mass destruction were Boeing 767s full of jet fuel, not box-cutters. So are we to invade Iraq to destroy their Boeing 767 factories?

In any case, the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center back in 1993 didn’t bring their weapons of mass destruction over from the Middle East. They bought the materials to make their weapons of mass destruction right here in the United States and rented a truck to deliver it. The next terrorist acts in this country will probably also involve weapons that are already here that can be stolen or bought or can be constructed here. The terrorist attacks will be carried out by people who may already be here.

Suppose they decide to destroy low-flying airliners in the United States the same way they destroyed Soviet helicopters and low-flying aircraft in Afghanistan. Where would they get the Stingers?

Well, the Pentagon reportedly makes some 40,000 domestic shipments of explosive ordnance each year, much of it transported by private-sector trucking companies. According to the New York Times, the General Accounting Office told Congress that their investigators recently found – among other things – that a truckload of Stinger missiles was left unguarded in a civilian storage area. Apparently, the only person who knew where those Stingers were was the truck driver. Perhaps that’s why so many potential Islamic terrorists have been instructed to get licenses to transport hazardous materials – like explosive ordnance.

The concern of the newly created Office of Homeland Defense is misplaced that tons of chembio agents are going to be dumped on someplace like Lake Wobegon. First, there are no U.S. chembio weapons to be stolen. So either Islamic terrorists who know how to make chembio weapons have to make them here, or those chembio weapons allegedly being made in Iraq will have to be transported by boat from Iraq, perhaps disguised as liquid propane. Second, Lake Wobegon is about the last place they will attack.

Nevertheless, the Clinton-Gore administration was spending tens of billions of dollars every year training the doctors, nurses, policemen and firemen of Lake Wobegon to handle that kind of terrorist weapon-of-mass-destruction attack.

Nukes – also unlikely to be used on Lake Wobegon – will also have to be imported. Until Sept. 11, there was no doubt about the most likely source of loose nukes – it was Russia.

No longer.

Pakistan – an Islamic state – has nukes, nuke materials, nuke technologies and technologists. Pakistan is not a Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory and, hence, none of its nuke infrastructure is subject to IAEA Non-Proliferation Treaty “full-scope” safeguards. If we don’t play our cards right in Afghanistan, and the present Pakistani government falls, there is a real possibility that a Pakistani nuke could get loose.

But what is even more worrisome is that non-Islamic India – Pakistan’s bitter enemy to the south – also has nukes, nuke materials, nuke technologies and technologists. If we don’t play our cards right in Afghanistan, and the present Pakistani government falls, there is a real possibility that a nuke war might ensue.

So, now that Reagan National has been reopened for business as usual, the whole world is holding its breath – about to turn blue – waiting to see what Dubya does in Afghanistan. Stay tuned.

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