Skip to comments.Iraq operates nuclear weapons assembly line, defector claims
Posted on 09/15/2002 5:26:55 PM PDT by knak
Saddam Hussein is developing nuclear capability, using pirated centrifuges to refine uranium
IRAQ is using pirated copies of German equipment to process nuclear material in an assembly line that will regularly produce nuclear weapons, an Iraqi scientist who led a section of the Iraqi nuclear bomb programme before his defection in 1994 claims.
President Saddam Hussein may need only months more to put together up to three nuclear cores, if he has not already done so while his programme has not been monitored, the defector says.
Dr Khidir Hamza also said that, even if given unfettered access, UN inspectors would find it far more difficult to detect the nuclear assembly line. The beauty of the present system is that the units are each very small and in the four years since the inspectors left they will have been concealed underground or in basements or buildings that outwardly seem normal, he said.
In an interview with The Times Dr Hamza painted a more alarming picture than had been laid out in a report last week by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. It concluded that Saddams regime could make a bomb within months as Iraq had almost all the hardware and technology needed to build it, but only if it succeeded in smuggling in the necessary uranium or radioactive material.
The Iraqi defector claimed that the necessary uranium was already being processed inside Iraq. The material, he said, comprises 1.3 tonnes of low-enriched material bought many years ago from Brazil.
He said that Iraq had also been processing many tonnes of yellow-cake uranium, which has been extracted from large supplies of phosphates dotted around the country. Nuclear inspectors had been shown 162 tonnes of the material, but Dr Hamza said there were several other phosphate sites that were not inspected.
The amount of uranium it already has conservatively estimated in a German intelligence report at ten tonnes of natural uranium and 1.3 tonnes of low-enriched uranium is enough for three nuclear weapons, Dr Hamza said.
Before their expulsion, the inspectors dismantled an illegally imported German centrifuge installation that had been used to refine progressively natural or low-enriched uranium until it becomes suitable for weapons.
But Dr Hamza said that by then the cat was out the bag.
The key was provided, he said, when the German Karl Schaab smuggled in the centrifuge in 1989 and later helped Iraq to build a second. We videoed as it was put up, so we could build identical ones. Then he also provided 130 classified documents and charts detailing every aspect of the construction. When the inspectors took away the original centrifuge, we already had the know-how. I believe there are probably hundreds of copies today, said Dr Hamza, who now lives in the United States. They are easy to hide undetectable from satellites if built within or under other buildings.
The problem for Iraq, he said, is simply to keep reprocessing the material so that after each run it gets more and more enriched, until it reaches the 90 per cent needed for nuclear weapons explosion. Having 1.3 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (3 to 4 per cent enriched) rather than only natural uranium (0.7 per cent enriched) meant that the process was speeded up.
For a really efficient nuclear weapons programme, thousands of such centrifuges were needed because each had a very small output of uranium, he said. The centrifuges spin at very high speeds and the joints are held together by magnets at top and bottom. The centrifuge tubes are made either of steel or aluminium.
The United States said this month that a shipment to Iraq of such highly refined aluminium tubes had been intercepted. Last week Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, disclosed that Saddam has been secretly attempting to buy aluminium tubes.
For every intercepted shipment of either small motors or precision tubes for the centrifuges, several would probably get through, Dr Hamza said, pointing out that a container could hold thousands. Orders would be placed for the tubes with a Western company via a third country at relatively low precision, and then a later order would suddenly specify far more precise production, costing four or five times as much and giving the factory far higher profits, he said.
The whole centrifuge method of getting to a bomb is much easier for Iraq than, for example, it was for Pakistan, which took 17 years in going the same route. They had to steal bits and pieces, whereas we got a whole centrifuge and all the plans, Dr Hamza said.
Experts suggest that the method used by Iraq can take between four and seven years, depending on the number of centrifuges, and the process would have begun in earnest again as soon as the inspectors left in 1998 and possibly even earlier, Dr Hamza said. This means, unless hes stopped soon, Saddam will have set up a whole nuclear bomb industry, not just have made a couple of bombs, he added.
Dr Hamza said that it would be suicidal for the West to wait much longer before eliminating Saddams regime. Inspectors going in now will have an almost impossible task to discover whats going on in the nuclear field, he said. Since the inspectors left, Saddam has had four years at least to hide what needs to be hidden. Now hes well on the road, his game will be to stall and stall if America lets him.
those Americans with even a lick of sense already understand this.
those who do not, or feign not too,
are either militantly ignorant or, quite simply, stupid.
No doubt the Doofuses in the UN and the usual fifth-column Democrats will promote this stalling so they can delay meaningful action, all the while trying to make political points.
But, if one or more of these nucs goes off in America, they will have a hey-day blaming Bush. Bush can't win dealing with either Saddam or any of these people. He may as well do what needs to be done for the good of America.
Once Saddam has the bomb, then they finally have the excuse to vote against action.....Too dangerous.
I trust that he will. Now, if we can just change his mind on the 'open-borders' thing.
and then, on to Damascus and Riyadh...
Explaining Schroder's whole "pay no attention to the man behind the centrifuge" act.
So, who are we going to believe, a Napoleanic dwarf with partisan myopia or the premier sigint/comint/humint apparatus in the world?
Or, in other words, a traitor's lies or our lying eyes?
Or Tom Daschle hangs upside down from a lamp post.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.