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Britain finds Iraq's 'smoking gun': a top-secret missile By Con Coughlin in Baghdad (Filed: 25/05/2003) http://tinyurl.com/cmgd British military officers have uncovered an attempt by Saddam Hussein to build a missile capable of hitting targets throughout the Middle East, including Israel, The Telegraph can reveal. Plans for the surface-to-surface missile were one of the regime's most closely-guarded secrets and were unknown to United Nations weapons inspectors. Its range of 600 miles would have been far greater than that of the al-Samoud rocket - which already breached the 93-mile limit imposed by the UN on any Iraqi missiles. Saddam's masterplan for the new missile, which was being developed by Iraq's Military Industrialisation Commission (MIC), the body responsible for weapons procurement, constitutes the most serious breach uncovered so far of the tight restrictions imposed on Iraq's military capability after the 1991 Gulf war. The range of Saddam's missiles was restricted to prevent him from using them as a delivery system for weapons of mass destruction. David Kay, the former United Nations weapons inspector responsible for dismantling Iraq's nuclear weapons programme in the 1990s, said the British discovery proved that Saddam had no intention of complying with UN requirements. "This is the smoking gun we have been looking for," he said. "We have known all along that Saddam was desperate to develop a delivery system for his mass destruction weapons, and this missile would undoubtedly have given him that capability." Details of Saddam's secret missile programme were discovered by British weapons experts after interviews with several former senior officials of the MIC. Gen Mudh'her Sadeq Sabe'a, the head of missile technology at the MIC, was in charge of the development programme, which began in 1999. Once a week Gen Mudh'her and Abdul Tawib Mulla Hawish, the minister responsible for the MIC, would travel to the presidential palace in Baghdad to deliver a progress report to Saddam, who is said to have taken a keen personal interest in the project. Mr Hawish surrendered to coalition forces shortly after the war and has provided British officials with a detailed breakdown of Saddam's plans to manufacture the weapon. The rocket motor was to be built at the Abu Ghraib military base, the main fuselage at al-Waziriyah and the navigation system at al-Taji. "We had finished the research stage and entered the development stage," said a senior Iraqi engineer who worked at the MIC and is now co-operating with British officials. "If it had not been for the war, development would have been completed within a year." Iraqi officials insist that the missile was intended to carry a conventional warhead, but British weapons experts believe it could easily have been adapted to carry chemical or biological weapons. The Iraqis say that the missile's main purpose would have been to protect Iraq from attack by neighbouring countries. However, it could also have been used to attack Israel. During the Gulf war Saddam launched Soviet-made Scud missiles at targets in Israel. The discovery of the plans for Saddam's secret missile programme is being hailed as a significant breakthrough by coalition commanders, who have so far failed to find any convincing evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programme.Related reports _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk