Wissam al Zahawie, the Iraqi official whom the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says went on a "trade mission" to uranium-exporting Niger in 1999, had a record of promoting resentment against America and Israel and of making Iraq's case for building a nuclear bomb.
Zahawie's record raises questions about the thoroughness of the IAEA investigation of his trip to Niger, and its candor in reporting the findings of that investigation.
At a 1995 U.N. conference on extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Zahawie (sometimes spelled "Zahawi") argued that unless Israel was stripped of nuclear weapons, other states would need to engage in "a secret or public" arms race to "restore a certain balance."
In an official U.N. summary of the April 24, 1995, session of this conference -- provided to me by the United Nations Library -- Zahawie sometimes referred to Israel as the "entity." "In that entity," the summary cites him as saying, "there was a powerful opposition party which was expected to win the forthcoming elections and which was urging that not a single inch of the occupied territories should be surrendered, and was ready, in its fanaticism, to go to any lengths, whatever the cost. It was not hard to see what that party would do with its nuclear bomb."
"(B)y exempting one State (Israel) from applying the provisions of the Treaty while expecting others to respect it forever," the U.N. summary cites Zahawie as saying, "there would inevitably be attempts to restore a certain balance. That meant an arms race, whether secret or public."
"Efforts must therefore be made either to establish equity and equilibrium," the U.N. summary reports Zahawie as saying, "or -- preferably -- to attain the ultimate goal sought by all mankind, namely the complete and permanent elimination of the nuclear threat."
Citing what he characterized as belligerent statements by various U.S. leaders of the Cold War era, Zahawie argued that the U.S. refrained from using nuclear weapons only out of fear of Soviet retaliation. "Apparently, the military and civilian leaders of the United States were very attached to the idea of atomic bombing designed to destroy a city or an entire country, since their experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," the U.N. summary reports him saying.
"If there had been any equilibrium at the beginning," it cites him as saying, "the world would not have experienced the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."