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Hamza again

Iraq near nuke capability, its ex-weapons chief says

By Anne Ryder

WTHR (Channel 13)

February 08, 2002

The former head of Saddam Hussein's weapons program estimates the Iraqi
regime is a year or two away from developing a rudimentary nuclear device.

Dr. Khidhir Hamza, who spent two decades in Saddam's inner circle before
defecting to the United States in 1995, said Iraq possesses the necessary
design and manufacturing equipment.

The only obstacle remaining, Hamza said, is the acquisition of enriched
uranium. Iraqi scientists are working to refine the material, but, for the
right price, it could become available on the black market, he said.

That prospect alarms not only Hamza, but the White House. Last week, in his
first State of the Union address, President Bush said Iraq, Iran and North
Korea's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction poses a "grave and growing

In an interview with WTHR (Channel 13), Hamza said Iraq's weapons
slowed after the Persian Gulf War, when United Nations inspectors had an
opportunity to locate -- and destroy -- materials and machinery that could
used to manufacture nuclear devices.

Unfortunately, he said, the U.N. teams were unable to eliminate all the
potential threats, and much of the equipment they did destroy has since been

Hamza, now a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, said he regrets
having done "nasty work for a nasty man like Saddam."

The guilt, he said, weighs heavily on him -- "always, not sometimes."

"Looking back, it was a very serious mistake," Hamza said. "It's a waste of

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