OAKLAND TOWNSHIP -- Gazi George is certain that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction, because he used to be one of the people hiding them.
Two decades ago, while he was employed by the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, George says he hid 39 rods of enriched uranium -- enough to build two nuclear bombs -- in a hastily converted swimming pool near the grounds of the Osirak nuclear power plants at Tuweitha.
Israeli fighter jets destroyed the plants in 1981. But to his knowledge, no one ever discovered or destroyed the uranium.
Instead, when an international inspector came to visit the ruined site, George said he was ordered to contaminate the grounds with alpha emitters, materials that mimic a uranium spill. The inspector, he said, went away satisfied that the plant's nuclear material had been destroyed.
"We faked the whole thing," said George, who fled the country soon afterward.
Today, he runs a chemical and environmental consulting company and lives comfortably in Oakland Township. But he has not forgotten the five years he spent in the Iraqi nuclear program and has never stopped looking over his shoulder, for fear Iraqi agents might appear to carry out his sentence.
The former nuclear scientist, who was in charge of health and safety programs at the Osirak plants, recalls harrowing years with his country's fledgling nuclear plant. Perhaps the worst experience was a secret bunker he visited -- hidden beneath a government agriculture building -- where he was asked to test for radiation levels. He found radioactive residue in syringes surrounded by bloody swabs and in cages too small for a person to stand up.
He says political prisoners were locked up in those cages, injected with radiation and exposed to an external bombardment of cobalt 60 radiation until their mouths bled, their skin blistered and they died.
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