Skip to comments.Defector: I Bought Iraq Nukes
Posted on 04/03/2002 1:35:08 AM PST by kattracks
An Iraqi defector has given Pentagon officials a detailed inside look at Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons programs and told of buying nuclear materials with a briefcase full of $100 bills.
The defector, whose story is recounted in the new edition of Vanity Fair magazine, says he was involved in the most sensitive of Iraq's secret arms programs before fleeing a year and a half ago.
Presented to U.S. officials by the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based exile group pushing for an American attack on Iraq, the defector says Saddam is close to finishing a long-range ballistic missile that could hit Cairo; Ankara; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Nicosia, Cyprus, or Tehran.
The defector said he helped run a network of shell corporations that smuggled missile parts hidden inside TV sets and refrigerators.
He claims also to have worked on weapons programs, saying he came up with the idea to house eight mobile germ labs in meat and dairy trucks.
The defector told Vanity Fair he also was involved in Saddam's nuke program, saying he and two colleagues were sent on a clandestine trip to Tanzania in 1994.
He says they met with five Eastern Europeans and traded a briefcase stuffed with $100 bills for a heavy metal trunk of "what looked like pieces of black rock, glittery."
The description could match pieces of spent nuclear reactor fuel rods the type of material that could be used in a radiological, or dirty, bomb.
The defector was one of 29 suspected conspirators arrested in 1998. He says he was tortured, interrogated and sexually abused for six months, then freed when it was clear he was innocent. He said such treatment normally serves to frighten Iraqis into line, but he resolved to escape.
The defector also said Iraq is backing and training the Hamas leaders who are sending suicide bombers into Israel even showing them how to build bombs.
the threat of a dirty bomb... is real.
They're obviously wrong. It will push us into severe retaliation.
We know the people behind all this... they will be nuked, without question. If they choose bioterror, the same result will send them to hell.
Well, looks like this guy was sold phoney material. Spent fuel, even if it has been allowed to cool for 10 years, is still quite hot (perhaps 10,000 R/hr at 3 feet). A 3 minute exposure at this distance is lethal. There could not possibly be enough shielding in that trunk to allow anyone to carry it around without showing obvious signs of acute exposure.
Looks like another "shiny casing filled with pinball machine parts"
Or they were scammed with bogus material. I wonder how many bogus nuclear material Saddam ended up buying. I think his batting average in this area will improve.
The defector in this article is saying things consistent with Khidr's account. Among other things, the Iraqis were so desperate to get their hands on this sort of stuff that they gladly paid silly money for fraudulent products.
But they didn't get ripped off all the time, so you shouldn't dismiss them just because they were easily fooled.
I think a lot of eastern Europeans are getting rich off of Iraqi money. I have yet to see a report that suggests that a credible transfer of nuclear materials to Iraq has taken place, but if you can link me to one, I would like to see it. Honest.
They did succeed in buying a "test" reactor from the french; they paid about triple market for it, and I'm sure everyone involved knew what it was really for.
The French apparently told Israeli intelligence about it, because it was bombed to ashes shortly after it was installed. I suspect this is why the French were willing to sell.
I don't know what happened to the nuclear material, but my guess would be that there was not enough to do anything significant.
Still, that is one genuine transfer of nuclear material to Iraq. Of course the circumstances are hardly likely to encourage paranoia, since they spent a couple of hundred million on a crater on the ground, but there you have it.
Maybe the Russians spent so much money fooling Saddamm they didn't have any need to show Iraq anything real? Anyone selling nuclear secrets to Iraq has to know that the consequences are going to be horrible. Perhaps that's enough to restrain even the Russians.