Hidden Assets

Ian Locke ponders on how careless we have been in the past in the wake of the Matrix-Churchill Iraq supergun affair.

The British government is on the receiving end of the Scott enquiry arising from the collapse of the trial, in November 1992, of members of the Matrix Churchill machine tool company charged with breaches of arms export controls. The supply of arms, or elements which contribute to their manufacture, have long had a murky history. During this century the Nobel brothers, Basil Zaharoff and Adnan Khashoggi have, amongst others, all inspired close scrutiny. Their backers have often faced similar enquiries, one of the most notable occasions being the US hearings into profiteering by the 'Sphinx of Wall Street', J. P. Morgan, after the First World War. In an unfortunate, and short-lived, moment of self-deception Alfred Nobel once proclaimed, 'My factories may end war sooner than your peace conferences'. That he was wrong was not implicitly his fault. The perception of a world of science was alien to many Victorians, even the better educated.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.