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Iraq's nuclear non-capability (fwd)

Here is a plausible story by an Iraqi scientist who left in 1998. Or does
he still work for the Iraqi government? For you to judge--CH

Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 17:42:39 +0200
From: Walid Khadduri <>

>''Iraq's nuclear non-capability''
>Thursday, November 21, 2002
>By Imad Khadduri
> Guest Columnist (Canada)
>[Imad Khadduri has a MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan
>(United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the
>University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi
>Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 till 1998. He was able to leave Iraq
>in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network
>administrator in Toronto, Canada.]
>Imad Khadduri encourages your comments:

>( - The war storm swirled by the American and British
>governments against Iraq, particularly the issue of Iraq's nuclear
>capability, raises serious doubts about the credibility of their
>intelligence sources as well as their non-scientific and threadbare
>interpretation of that information. It is often stated that lack of
>inside information on this matter is scarce. Perhaps it is not too late
>to rectify this misinformation campaign.
>I worked with the Iraqi nuclear program from 1968 till my departure from
>Iraq in late 1998. Having been closely involved in most of the major
>nuclear activities of that program, be it the Russian research reactor in
>the late sixties, the French research reactors in the late seventies, the
>Russian nuclear power program in the early eighties, the nuclear weapon
>program during the eighties and finally the confrontations with U.N.
>inspection teams in the nineties, it behooves me that I may ridicule the
>American and British present allegations about Iraq's nuclear capability.
>It would be interesting to start my discourse at 1991. A week before the
>cessation of a two month saturation bombings on the target-rich Iraq, it
>came to the attention of the Americans that a certain complex of
>buildings in Tarmiah that was carpet bombed, for lack of any other
>remaining prominent targets, exhibited unusual swarming activity by
>rescuers the next morning. When they compared the photographs of that
>complex with other standing structures in Iraq, they were surprised to
>find an exact replica of that complex in the north of Iraq, near Sharqat,
>which was nearing completion. They directed their bombers to demolish
>that complex a few days before the end of hostilities. My family, along
>with the families of most prominent Iraqi nuclear scientists and the top
>management of that complex were residing in the housing complex. These
>two complexes were designed for the Calutron separators, the method used
>by the American Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic weapons
>that were dropped by the Americans on Japan.
>At the end of 1991, and after that infamous U.N. inspector David Kay got
>hold of many of the nuclear weapon program's reports, whose documentation
>and hiding I was in charge of until the start of the war, the Americans
>realized that their saturated bombing had also missed a most important
>complex of buildings, at Al-Atheer, that was the center for the design
>and assembly of the nuclear bomb. A mere one bomb, thermally guided, had
>hit the electric substation outside the perimeter of the complex, causing
>little damage.
>The telling revelation about these two events is the dearth of any
>information, until 1991, in the coffers of the heavily subsidized
>American and British intelligence about these building complexes. More
>importantly, they had no idea of the programs that they harbored, which
>were on full steam for the previous ten years.
>What really happened to Iraq's nuclear weapon program after the 1991 war?
>Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, the entire organization
>that was responsible for the nuclear weapon project was directed to the
>reconstruction of the heavily damaged oil refineries, electric power
>stations and telephone exchange buildings. The developed expertise of the
>several thousand scientific, engineering and technical cadres manifested
>itself in the impressive restoration of the oil, electric and
>communication infrastructure in a matter of months.
>Then, the U.N. inspectors were ushered in. The senior scientists and
>engineers among the nuclear cadre were instructed many times on how to
>cooperate with the inspectors. We were also asked to hand in to our own
>officials any reports or incriminating evidence, with heavy penalties up
>to death for failing to do so. In the first few months, the clean sheets
>were hung up for all to see. When the scientific questioning mounted, our
>scientist requested to refer to the scientific and technical reports
>amassed during the ten years of activity. A fatal error was committed and
>the order was issued to return the project's documents which have been
>traveling up and down Iraq in a welded train car, and to be deposited
>back again in their original location. That is where David Kay pounced on
>them in the early morning hours of September 1991. Among the documents
>were those of Al-Atheer and the bomb specifics.
>In the following few years, the nuclear weapon project organization was
>slowly disbanded; by 1994, its various departments were either elevated
>to independent civilian industrial enterprises or absorbed within the
>Military Industrial Authority under Hussain Kamil, who later escaped to
>Jordan in 1996 and then returned to Baghdad where he was murdered.
>Meanwhile, the brinkmanship with the U.N. inspectors continued. At one
>heated encounter, an American inspector remarked that the nuclear
>scientists and engineers are still around, accusingly hinting that they
>may be readily used for a rejuvenated nuclear program. The retort was,
>"What do you want us to do to satisfy you? Ask them to commit suicide?"
>In 1994, a report surfaced claiming that Iraq was still intent on
>manufacturing a nuclear bomb and has been continuing this work since
>1991. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors brought
>the report to Baghdad demanding a full explanation. Being responsible for
>the proper issuance and the archiving of the scientific and engineering
>reports for the nuclear weapon project during the eighties, my opinion on
>the authenticity of the report was requested. The report was well done,
>and most probably was written by someone who had detailed knowledge of
>the documentation procedures that were laid out. However, it was easily
>pointed out to the IAEA inspectors that certain words used in the report
>would not normally be used by us, but by Iranians, and an Arabic-Iranian
>dictionary was brought in to verify our findings. The IAEA inspectors
>never referred back to that report.
>During these years, the specter of a crushing economic inflation was
>forming. It would spell the dead end for most of the Iraqi nuclear
>scientists and engineers in the following years.
>In 1996, Hussain Kamil, who was in charge of the spectrum of chemical,
>biological and nuclear programs, announced from his self imposed exile in
>Amman that there were hidden scientific caches in his farm in Iraq.
>Apparently, he had his security entourage stealthily salvage what they
>thought were the most important pieces of information and documentation
>in these programs. The U.N. inspectors pounced in, and a renewed
>strenuous batch of confrontations unfolded until they were asked to leave
>Iraq in 1998.
>In the final years of the nineties, we struggled hard to produce a
>satisfying report, to the best of our knowledge (and sometimes memory),
>to the IAEA inspectors on the whole gamut of Iraq's nuclear activities,
>including the weapon program. The IAEA finally issued its report in
>October 1997 mapping in great details these activities and vaguely
>raising some "politically correct" queries.
>In the meantime, and this is the gist of my discourse, the economic
>standing of the Iraqi nuclear scientists and engineers (along with the
>rest of the civil servants and the professional middle class) has
>pathetically crumpled to poverty levels. Even with occasional salary
>inducements and some flimsy benefits, many of those highly educated elite
>have been forced to sell their possessions just to keep their families
>alive. Needless to say, their spirits are very low and their cynicism is
>high. A relatively few have managed to leave Iraq. The majority are
>gripped by poverty, family and fear of the brutal repercussion of the
>security apparatus to even consider a plan to escape. Their former
>determination and drive of the eighties have been crushed by the economic
>harsh realities, their knowledge and experience rusting under age and
>distance from research and activity in their fields.
>Until my departure from Iraq in late 1998, and having often visited most
>of the newly created industrial enterprises commandeered by the previous
>nuclear scientists and engineers, as well as the barely functioning
>Nuclear Research Institute at Tuwaitha, one can not but notice the
>pathetic mere shadow of their former selves. Their dreaded fear is that
>of retirement, with the equivalence of $2 per month pension.
>Yet, the American and British intelligence, more likely tainted by war
>hungry political considerations, seems to blow a balloon full of holes. A
>consignment of aluminum pipes may, perhaps, could and might possibly end
>in kilometers long (according to Western scientists) highly technical
>centrifugal spinners. One would hope not to put it beyond U.S. and
>British intelligences' intelligence to, for once, point out to their
>leaders that there are no remaining qualified Iraqi staff to set up and
>run these supposed enrichment spinners. Last month, on a recent guided
>tour by journalists to a suspected, maybe, could be uranium extraction
>plant in Akashat in western Iraq, the Iraqi counterpart pointed to the
>demolished buildings and asked a rhetorical question with tongue in
>cheek: "Who would make any use of these ruins? Maybe your experts would
>tell us how."
>It is true that the Iraqi nuclear scientists and engineers did not commit
>suicide. But the difference, by now, is academic.
>Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their
>hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the
>two parading emperors have no clothes.

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