The mirage of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
Date: Wednesday, April 30 @ 13:46:12 UTC
By Imad Khadduri, Former Iraqi nuclear scientist
In late August 2002, I listened with trepidation to President Bush's burgeoning false allegations about Iraq's nuclear military capability. Even then, one could discern that the sustained use of misinformation to support the invasion of Iraq showed that the President's claims were not based on any facts. I, having worked with Iraq's nuclear program for thirty years, reacted with a series of articles expounding on the fact that Iraq had ceased its nuclear weapons program at the start of the 1991 war. I refuted the claims and evidence most famously, or infamously, branded by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Security Council in February 2003 in which Powell argued that Iraq had rejuvenated its nuclear weapons program after the Gulf War.
With heightened apprehension, I listened to Vice President Dick Cheney's claim on MSNBC that the U.S. does not accept the results of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) extensive inspections nor its failure to find any evidence of a rejuvenated Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The IAEA explicitly exposed the fact that a uranium procurement document provided by British and American intelligence as a piece of evidence proving Iraq's nuclear weapon capability was, in fact, a planted forgery. Cheney provocatively claimed, on the day before Bush's 48 hours ultimatum to invade Iraq, that U.S. intelligence had proof otherwise. My last retort to that incredible plain lie was that some bogus evidence might be planted once U.S. forces were on the ground in Iraq.
Bombing to waste, yet again, the main Nuclear Research Center at Tuwaitha, and foolishly allowing American soldiers to break IAEA protective seals and opening Tuwaitha's radioactive burial mound for looters who then contaminated themselves and their families, the Americans have yet to produce their "evidence" of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq. Why is Cheney now silent about Iraq's nuclear weapons program? With U.S. troops in control of Iraq, this information cannot be a "national security" issue anymore.
In addition to the non-existent nuclear weapons program, two developments in the past two months have convinced me that, since 1991-1992, Iraq did not rejuvenate its chemical or biological weapons programs, either.
The first development was a Newsweek story on March 03, 2003 unveiling, after eight years of suppression, the transcript of Hussain Kamel's debriefing by officials from the IAEA and the U.N. inspection team known as UNSCOM; this debriefing took place after Kamel defected to Jordan in 1995. In it, he affirmed that Iraq had indeed destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles after the Gulf War. All that remained were "hidden blueprints, computer disks, microfiches." The weapons were destroyed secretly, in order to hide their existence from inspectors, in the hopes of someday resuming production after inspections had finished. According to John Barry, who broke the story, the CIA and MI6 were told the same account and "a military aide who defected with Kamel ... backed Kamel's assertions about the destruction of WMD stocks." But these statements were "hushed up by the U.N. inspectors" in order to "bluff Saddam into disclosing still more."
On February 26, 2003, a complete copy of Hussain Kamel's transcript -- an internal UNSCOM/IAEA document stamped "sensitive" -- was obtained by Glen Rangwala, the Cambridge University analyst who in early February revealed that Tony Blair's "intelligence dossier" was plagiarized from a student thesis. This transcript can be seen at here (pdf).
On page 7 of the transcript, an UNSCOM Russian expert, with the name of Smidovich, asked the direct question: "Were weapons and agents destroyed?"
"Nothing remained," was Kamel's reply.
Smidovich insisted: "Was it before or after inspections started?"
Hussain Kamel replied: "After visits of inspection teams…"
Smidovich insisted: "We could not find any traces of destruction."
Hussain Kamel reiterated: "Yes, it was done before you came in. The place they buried them was found by you."
Smidovich recollected: "Is this the place north of Baghdad where they were buried?"
Hussain Kamel replied: "It was in the month you came in. Destruction of warheads started but I could not remember the details."
Tellingly, Iraq, in January 2003, collected and provided access to UNSCOM to more than twenty personnel who actually participated in the events of the above revelation. UNSCOM then carried out further extensive excavations at that site.
Hussain Kamel also had a few remarks on the bottom of page 5 on the habitual liar, Khidhir Hamza, who kept claiming throughout the nineties, on CNN and FOX as well as to Congressional Committees, that Iraq was on the verge of producing nuclear bombs. His accusations continued up until March 2003 when he suddenly quieted down and headed for Kuwait to receive his new post in the new "Iraqi" government.
The revelation of Hussain Kamel's detailed confession, by itself, did not induce me to endorse his assertion bluntly or publicly, though it was illuminating and historically authentic. Previously we had heard of his confession, but not of its contents.
It was the second event, which took place two weeks ago, which convinced me of the futility of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Amer Al Saadi, the chemical engineer and a senior scientific consultant to the Iraqi government, was the first prominent personality to surrender to the American forces after his German wife interceded with a German TV station to arrange for his surrender. For the past decade, he had been a polished, dignified and assured spokesman. He participated in the biological weapons program since its start in the early eighties. I knew him personally and had great admiration for his scientific integrity. In a ten-minute interview with German TV, Al Saadi asserted that: "I was always telling the truth. Iraq does not have chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. I have nothing to hide. Time will bear me out."
Indeed, time is bearing him out to the chagrin of Bush and Blair. The American and British hopes of finding any WMDs in Iraq, not planted by them, are vanishing mirages.
Bush, Blair and their senior officials lied to their people, knowingly, and waged a criminal invasion in lieu of this reason. Is this the democracy model for a "liberated" Iraq?
[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 until 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. He has been interviewed by the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, FOX, the Toronto Star, Reuters, and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. This article was originally printed in YellowTimes.org.]