It is quite surprising that the late President of Iraq felt the need to hoard several Playstation 2 units. He event sent over secret agents to the Midwest to make the purchase. But what did he need it for?
When the Playstation 2 came out in March 2000, Saddam Hussein hoarded 4,000 units. His goal was to create a supercomputer with the technology of Sony since the UN sanctions clause prevented him from purchasing any computer hardware for Iraq.
Why Did The United Nations Impose Sanctions on Iraq?
By the time Kuwait was liberated after the Gulf War, the United Nations had deemed that the Iraqi people faced humanitarian chaos. They were to end up with famine and an epidemic if their needs would not be met. This is when the United States stepped in and introduced the UN Security Council Resolutions to help their plight. These were then imposed in August and September 1991.
The UN Security Council has already imposed strict economic sanctions on Iraq right after they occupied Kuwait. But after the Gulf War, these sanctions were extended. These were specifically designed to force Saddam Hussein to allow UN weapons inspectors into Iraq to ensure that they did not have any biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. (Source: Pro Con)
What Were Included in the Sanctions Placed?
There were several limitations placed upon the imposition of the sanctions. Some of these are as follows:
Limitations of Imports
The UN Sanctions Committee did not issue a complete list of items that can be imported to Iraq. Instead, they evaluated the applications before the items were imported. But in theory, they allowed food, medicines, and essential needs. Everything else was banned. Along with this, the Iraqi government was not allowed to import any computer hardware. (Source: US Department of State)
Limitation of Exports and the Oil For Food Programme
Since Iraq was not permitted to export oil freely, it was pretty difficult for them to acquire funds. This was when the Oil for Food Program was developed. It was intended as a temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian needs of the people. (Source: US Department of State)
Can the Playstation 2 Consoles be Converted?
According to the reports, customs have been investigating the allegations that Hussein sent over secret agents to buy several Sony Playstation 2 consoles and use them as spare parts to build a military supercomputer. It may sound far-fetched, but the claim has been taken seriously by the Pentagon.
Investigators found that the Iraqi agents purchased 1,400 units from several toy shops in Detroit and throughout the country.
As they get more powerful, the line between what’s a toy and what’s a weapon is going to disappear,Gary Milhollin, US Security Expert
Japanese experts said that advanced computer graphics and memory could be adapted to be used as a missile guidance system. But others were quite suspicious about this claim.
It is a powerful processor, a beast of a machine, but it is designed to shuffle video and sound on to a television. It does not have the open architecture to make it easily adaptable.Nigel Powell
While this was all going on, Sony released a statement that the company would not be held liable for whatever happens to the consoles once they had been sold.
Iraq was able to get away with the import by saying it was a harmless purchase for Iraqi children who just wanted to acquire the console. (Source: The Independent)