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Saddam's Bombmaker Backs Bush on Iraqi Nuclear Threat

"Acquiring bomb-grade uranium was always the biggest challenge to our program. ... Ironically, the first lesson we got on enrichment methods came from the Manhattan Project's own reports, which were long ago declassified. ... Another option for obtaining bomb-grade uranium, of course, is to simply buy it on the black market."
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2003 12:02 a.m. EDT
Saddam's Bombmaker Backs Bush on Iraqi Nuclear Threat

The account of the Iraqi physicist who ran Saddam Hussein's nuclear bombmaking program from 1972 to 1994 supports President George W. Bush's State of the Union address claim that Iraq sought uranium from Africa - and starkly contradicts Bush administration critics who insist that the Iraqi nuclear weapons program ended after the first Gulf War.

Dr. Khidir Hamza, known as "Saddam's Bombmaker" to U.S. and British intelligence officials, said last fall that an Iraqi intelligence team "recently took delivery in Africa" of what he said were spent fuel rods from a Russian nuclear reactor.

The Dallas Morning News covered Dr. Hamza's account more than a month before Bush told the nation, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The CIA, which later challenged the uranium information in Bush's speech, declined to respond to Dr. Hamza's claims when contacted by the Morning News at the time.

Two months earlier, Dr. Hamza revealed that Iraq was already processing some 1.3 tons of low-grade uranium bought years before from a foreign country, which he believed was Brazil.

Hamza told the Washington Times that "tons" of yellow-cake uranium - the kind of nuclear material Iraq had allegedly sought from Niger - had been extracted from "large supplies" of phosphates stored in the northern part of the country.

U.N. inspectors were shown 162 tons of the material before their expulsion in 1998, the Times said. But Dr. Hamza maintained that there were several other uranium storage sites that Baghdad could have drawn from.

"The amount of uranium [Iraq] already has - conservatively estimated in a German intelligence report at 10 tons of natural uranium and 1.3 tons of low-enriched uranium - is enough for three nuclear weapons," Dr. Hamza told the paper.

Contradicting the CIA, which also missed evidence of the burgeoning Pakistani nuclear program five years ago, Dr. Hamza said Baghdad had been busily refining uranium into the necessary material for nuclear bombs.

Despite his status as the highest-ranking Iraqi nuclear scientist ever to defect to the U.S., neither the press nor the Bush White House has revisited Dr. Hamza's account since the Niger uranium flap erupted in early July.

Saddam's nuclear weapons chief isn't the only Iraqi who insists that Baghdad was in hot pursuit of uranium for a nuclear weapons program.

In a little-noticed development two months before the Bush speech, Amir al-Saadi, then an adviser to Saddam, told the Detroit Free Press that Iraq had obtained uranium oxide from Niger in the mid-1980s.

And though the media have made much of the fact that Secretary of State Colin Powell omitted the uranium claim from his own presentation to the U.N. on Feb. 5, the State Department was already on record complaining about uranium from Niger.

Last December, after Iraq offered a declaration on the inventory of its weapons of mass destruction, the agency issued its own report documenting Baghdad's "Material Omissions."

"The declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger," the State Department said, according to the New York Times, adding, "Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?"

In his book "Saddam's Bombmaker," released more than a year before the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Hamza offers an account that is starkly at odds with more recent assessments, mostly from congressional Democrats who portray the Iraqi nuclear program as virtually nonexistent after the first Gulf War.

Instead, the Iraqi nuclear chief insisted that Saddam's atomic bombmaking program was massive and well-funded and was making significant progress toward the development of a warhead that could have been mounted on a short-range missile.

"We had a vast number of people working in the clandestine nuclear effort," Hamza wrote. "At its peak in 1993-1994, the bomb program employed more than 2,000 engineers. ...

"The total workforce employed in making the bomb was in excess of twelve thousand people - twice the size of the Argonne National Laboratory, a principal U.S. nuclear weapons center. In the last three years of the 1980s, expenditures on the bomb and bomb-related programs exceeded ten billion dollars."

More from Dr. Hamza on his country's supposedly non-existent nuclear program:

"Because the weight and size of our device made it too big to be mounted on a missile, Iraqi scientists pursued the development of beryllium and graphite reflectors that would be many pounds lighter than the uranium metal reflectors we originally planned. This too was hidden from inspectors. ...

"Acquiring bomb-grade uranium was always the biggest challenge to our program. ... Ironically, the first lesson we got on enrichment methods came from the Manhattan Project's own reports, which were long ago declassified. ... Another option for obtaining bomb-grade uranium, of course, is to simply buy it on the black market."
NICE TRY BUT NO CIGAR, ASSHOLE 06.Aug.2003 08:56

CNN defector.

IT seems that the Warmongers are getting desperate in that they have trotted out Khadir Hamza again. This guy is about as credible as David Kay or Achmed Chalabi. Here is more information on the evil Doktor Hamza:

'''Saddam's bombmaker' is full of lies''
 http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=889

''Who is Khidhir Hamza?''
 http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=888

''The nuclear bomb hoax''
 http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=1055

''The demise of the nuclear bomb hoax''
 http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=1073

BTW, why doesn't your article have a URL or even a byline as to which Propaganda mouthpiece produced it. Judging from the tone and (lack of) substance of the article, it sounds like an Associated Press or other newswire lie.

funny thing...I haven't heard abourt this 06.Aug.2003 08:57

alex

One would think this would be big news. That is unless it came from one of those right wing crank websites.

you fool! 06.Aug.2003 09:18

Jai_Alai

"Saddam's Bombmaker?" Look in the mirror at your own mentality. Your'e so obsessed with demonization it's permeated into your grammar.

Why don't you go find out who "Bush's Bombmaker" is? That's right. I also want a tally of just how many of our fellow Americans are "bombmakers."

You and your threat mentality. There's always an external threat out there somewhere for you to obsess about. You must have a pretty pathetic life Bro..........

Thanks Dr. Hamza 06.Aug.2003 13:56

W

Your check is in the mail!

Bombmakers 07.Aug.2003 15:47

Portland anthropologist

I don't know about bombmakers Jai... Americans tend to be methmakers.