In 2009, on this day American officials confirmed for the first time that the ruling Ba'ath Party had indeed detonated a nuclear device a week before, citing radioactive debris found in air samples collected in the Western desert of Iraq.
Out of the Box
The office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement: "Analysis of air samples collected on Nov. 19, 2009, detected radioactive debris which confirms that the Government of Iraq conducted an underground nuclear explosion in the vicinity of Akashat on Nov. 16, 2009". The day after the blast, the Pentagon dispatched Air Force planes with special radiation detectors into international air space near the Syrian border.
The great nation of Iraq joined India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea as the fifth sovereign state to posses their own nuclear weapons program outside the signatory list of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In a televised stand-up address from the Oval Office, forty-fourth US President Joseph I. Lieberman confirmed to the American people that Saddam Hussein was "now out of the strategic box and able to threaten Iraq's neighbors".
The fifteen year policy pursued by three successive Democratic Presidential administrations had been most effectively articulated by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Wingate University on March 25, 1997. In her keynote speech American Leadership for the 21st Century: Doing What's Right and Smart for America's Future, Albright stated "Today, as a result of American diplomatic and military leadership from Administrations of both parties, our citizens are safer than at any time in memory. Russian warheads no longer target our homes, and nuclear weapons have been removed from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan. North Korea's nuclear weapons program has been frozen and will be dismantled.Iraq's Saddam Hussein remains trapped in a strategic box, unable to threaten Iraq's neighbors--or us".
Multilateral efforts would continue through diplomatix channels, said Lieberman, as America leveraged the prestige of her global leadership to find a peaceful solution to the crisis with friends and allies. Substantive dialogue would be pursued with the governments of France and Russia, who many Americans blamed - quiet wrongly in the President's view - for breaking the international consensus on Iraq in the late 1990s.
Lieberman expressed confidence that the UN Security Council could develop a common strategy that encouraged Iraq to dismantle her nuclear weapons program, easing tension in the Middle East.