Procurement: July 9, 2004


The fall of Saddam Husseins government last year had one little discussed side effect; it put thousands of additional weapons on the international black market. This is nothing new. When over a dozen communist governments collapsed in the late 1980s (culminating in the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991), millions of tons of weapons were suddenly available for sale. Most ended up as scrap, but millions of AK-47s, plus thousands of tanks, warplanes and warships, were snapped up at bargain prices, legally or illegally. Saddams arms stockpile was more extensive than anyone expected, with over 140 different locations holding at least 650,000 tons of weapons. Thousands of the smaller weapons were promptly stolen by Iraqis for personal use, and many more are being smuggled out of the country, to join the tens of millions of AK-47s and RPG-7 rocket launchers already on the market. The Middle East has always been a major customer for these two weapons, and many countries here are thought to hold millions of them (bought from Russia, China and other suppliers) in armories. So, while Saddam may be out of a job, the same cannot be said for many of the weapons he bought over the years. Saddams killing days may be over, but his weapons continue their deadly work.


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