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[casi] Sci-Fi in DC

Here's one Iraqi that left Iraq that the US will not be putting before a
camera to tell about Iraq's alleged "evil weapons". Very interesting article.
9 - 15 January 2003
Issue No. 620
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Sci-Fi in DC

A senior Iraqi nuclear scientist accuses the US and Britain of waging a
"misinformation campaign" about his country's nuclear programme. He spoke to
Michael Jansen

In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, Imad Khadduri, a senior Iraqi nuclear
scientist who was involved in Iraq's nuclear programme for 30 years, claimed,
"Iraq is in no position today to produce a nuclear device or deliver it, and
has not been able to engage in nuclear research since the end of the 1991
He said allegations that Iraq might manufacture a "large, dirty bomb
deliverable by aircraft or missile" are in the realm of "science fiction".
Iraq has neither the "reactors nor the neutron generators needed to produce
such a weapon". Weapons inspectors "have found nothing because there is
nothing to be found".
Khadduri, who obtained an MSc in physics from the University of Michigan and
a PhD in nuclear reaction technology from Birmingham University in the UK,
was involved in Iraq's nuclear programme from 1968 to 1998, when he and his
family immigrated to Canada. During those three decades, he prospected for
uranium ore in Iraq, helped to develop its nuclear facilities, served as
procurement officer for the programme and maintained its records.
Khadduri is, therefore, in a unique position to judge Iraq's current
potential. He dismissed allegations that Baghdad could, in the foreseeable
future, produce a nuclear device. "Its nuclear weapons programme was derailed
in 1991 and the whole cadre of nuclear scientists and engineers was diverted
to the reconstruction of damaged electric power stations, oil refineries and
telephone exchanges. The umbrella organisation for that effort, Petrochemical
3, was disbanded in 1993-94. Several of its departments were resurrected as
civilian enterprises designed to employ scientists at previous levels of
seniority." Khadduri said he "visited each and every" scientist who was
engaged in the rehabilitation effort. He stated, "None of these enterprises
are engaged in projects or work related to the continuation of the nuclear
weapons programme."
Khadduri dismissed accusations levelled by Khidhir Hamza, the sole Iraqi
nuclear expert to defect to the US. Hamza, author of a book entitled Saddam's
Bombmaker, has testified before Congress and made high profile appearances on
Khadduri said that while Hamza was involved in theoretical work at the
nuclear research centre during the 1970s and 1980s, he had an "aversion to
scientific experimentation and shunned any responsibilities which would have
made him, in any sense, a bombmaker".
Historically, the US initiated Iraq's nuclear programme in 1956 by
dispatching to Baghdad the "Atoms for Peace Library" which, under the
administration of President Dwight D Eisenhower, was provided to many
governments around the world and used by at least two, India and Pakistan, as
the starting point for developing weapons. Following the July 1958 ouster of
the Iraqi monarchy, "the small reactor, which was part of the package and on
its way to Iraq, was diverted to Iran," Khadduri said.
While "still pursuing the Atoms for Peace vision without military intent,"
Baghdad "turned to the Soviet Union. We bought and they built a two- megawatt
research reactor which went critical in 1966-67".
Khadduri joined the Iraqi Atomic Energy Centre a year later. "The IAEA
[International Atomic Energy Agency] sent us many consultants and researchers
to assist" in early work at the centre. During 1975, France stepped in and
provided Iraq with a light water reactor, OSIRAK, which "was specifically
designed to be unsuitable for the production of plutonium for a bomb".
Meanwhile, Iraqi scientists were, said Khadduri, "dabbling with rudimentary
research on fission bombs". In 1976 he prospected for uranium ore "using a
novel technique" that "came up with positive results". The bombing by Israel
of OSIRAK in June 1981 prompted Iraq to take the "solid decision to go full
steam ahead with weaponisation". During 1987, the last year of the Iraq-Iran
war, Baghdad stepped up its efforts in a crash programme under the
president's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel. Domestic sources of uranium ore,
rather than "yellow cake" imported from Africa (as claimed by the US) were
tapped, processed and shipped to the separators.
By 1991 Khadduri said Iraq had "many complexes supporting the nuclear
weaponisation programme: the original research centre at Tawaitha near
Baghdad, a fertiliser-cum-uranium ore extracting plant at Akashat in the
west, a uranium ore processing plant near Mosul, facilties at Tarmiyah and
Sharqat which housed separators similar to those which were used to develop
the first US A-bomb, and the new centre for the design and assembly of bombs
at Al-Atheer. There were also major electrical and mechanical installations
near Baghdad. Had we had enough enriched uranium, Al-Atheer would have been
the key installation, but the separators were a long way from delivering", he
stated. His assessment is supported by the IAEA which said, "there were no
indications to suggest that Iraq was successful in its attempt to produce
nuclear weapons" or that it "had produced more than a few grams of
weapons-grade nuclear material through its indigenous processes" or
"otherwise clandestinely-acquired weapons-usable material".
"Most, but not all, of these complexes were destroyed by US bombers during
the 1991 War. Al- Atheer survived and was discovered and dismantled by the
first UN inspectorate." Subsequent allegations that Iraq had set up a
clandestine programme are untrue, asserted Khadduri.
The careers of Iraq's scientists and engineers came to an end after the 1991
War. They fell victim to the "inflation and gradual economic degradation"
created by the harsh sanctions regime. Their final task, at the end of the
1990s, was to produce a comprehensive report for the IAEA.
Today the "determination and drive" of Iraqi scientists "has been crushed by
economic realities... their skills have atrophied from lack of activity in
their fields". Khadduri flatly rejected the recent US allegation that
aluminium piping purchased by Iraq could be used to construct highly advanced
centrifugal spinners. "The fact that there are no Iraqi scientists qualified
to fashion and operate these centrifuges has eluded the spin doctors in
Washington." (An Iraqi metalurgist told UN inspectors last month that the
tubing was meant for battlefield rockets which Iraq is permitted to possess.)
Khadduri said most scientists remain in Iraq. "The number of senior
scientists who managed to leave, by hook or by crook, number no more than the
fingers of your hands." He was one of the few. Determined to provide his
children with a Western education, Khadduri arranged matters for the family
to leave without defecting in 1998.
 Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

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