“The Inspections Dodge”

An editorial written by the former director of Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program is featured in the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal today.

I would definately recommend it as a must read. Regardless of where you may stand on the issue, the perspective and insight are amazing.

The site requires registration. Since some of you may elect not to register, I have linked the story below:

Full Original Souce

Today's Featured Article


The Inspections Dodge

Why are France and Germany pro-Saddam? Follow the money.


Tuesday, February 11, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST

My 20 years of work in Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program and military industry were partly a training course in methods of deception and camouflage to keep the program secret. Given what I know about Saddam Hussein’s commitment to developing and using weapons of mass destruction, the following two points are abundantly clear to me: First, the U.N. weapons inspectors will not find anything Saddam does not want them to find. Second, France, Germany, and to a degree, Russia, are opposed to U.S. military action in Iraq mainly because they maintain lucrative trade deals with Baghdad, many of which are arms-related.

Since the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 we have witnessed a tiny team of inspectors with a supposedly stronger mandate begging Iraq to disclose its weapons stockpiles and commence disarmament. The question that nags me is: How can a team of 200 inspectors “disarm” Iraq when 6,000 inspectors could not do so in the previous seven years of inspection?

Put simply, surprise inspections no longer work. With the Iraqis’ current level of mobility and intelligence the whole point of inspecting sites is moot. This was made perfectly clear by Colin Powell in his presentation before the U.N. last week. But the inspectors, mindless of these changes, are still visiting old sites and interviewing marginal scientists. I can assure you, the core of Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program has not even been touched. Yesterday’s news that Iraq will “accept” U-2 surveillance flights is another sign that Saddam has confidence in his ability to hide what he’s got.

Meanwhile, the time U.N. inspectors could have used gathering intelligence by interviewing scientists outside Iraq is running out. The problem is that there is nothing Saddam can declare that will provide any level of assurance of disarmament. If he delivers the 8,500 liters of anthrax that he now admits to having, he will still not be in compliance because the growth media he imported to grow it can produce 25,000 liters. Iraq must account for the growth media and its products; it is doing neither.

Iraq’s attempt to import aluminum tubes of higher tensile strength than is needed in conventional weapons has been brushed aside by the IAEA’s Mohammed El-Baradei. He claims there is no proof that these tubes were intended for modification and use in centrifuges to make enriched uranium. Yet he fails to report that Iraq has the machining equipment to thin these tubes down to the required thickness (less than one millimeter) for an efficient centrifuge rotor. What’s more, they don’t find it suspect that Iraq did not deliver all the computer controlled machining equipment that it imported from the British-based, Iraqi-owned Matrix-Churchill that manufacture these units.

Mr. Blix also discounted the discovery of a number of “empty” chemical-weapons warheads. What he failed to mention is that empty is the only way to store these weapon parts. The warheads in question were not designed to store chemicals for long periods. They have a much higher possibility of leakage and corrosion than conventional warheads. Separate storage for the poisons is a standard practice in Iraq, since the Special Security Organization that guards Saddam also controls the storage and inventory of these chemicals.

What has become obvious is that the U.N. inspection process was designed to delay any possible U.S. military action to disarm Iraq. Germany, France, and Russia, states we called “friendly” when I was in Baghdad, are also engaged in a strategy of delay and obstruction.

In the two decades before the Gulf War, I played a role in Iraq’s efforts to acquire major technologies from friendly states. In 1974, I headed an Iraqi delegation to France to purchase a nuclear reactor. It was a 40-megawatt research reactor that our sources in the IAEA told us should cost no more than $50 million. But the French deal ended up costing Baghdad more than $200 million. The French-controlled Habbania Resort project cost Baghdad a whopping $750 million, and with the same huge profit margin. With these kinds of deals coming their way, is it any surprise that the French are so desperate to save Saddam’s regime?

Germany was the hub of Iraq’s military purchases in the 1980s. Our commercial attaché, Ali Abdul Mutalib, was allocated billions of dollars to spend each year on German military industry imports. These imports included many proscribed technologies with the German government looking the other way. In 1989, German engineer Karl Schaab sold us classified technology to build and operate the centrifuges we needed for our uranium-enrichment program. German authorities have since found Mr. Schaab guilty of selling nuclear secrets, but because the technology was considered “dual use” he was fined only $32,000 and given five years probation.

Meanwhile, other German firms have provided Iraq with the technology it needs to make missile parts. Mr. Blix’s recent finding that Iraq is trying to enlarge the diameter of its missiles to a size capable of delivering nuclear weapons would not be feasible without this technology transfer.

Russia has long been a major supplier of conventional armaments to Iraq–yet again at exorbitant prices. Even the Kalashnikov rifles used by the Iraqi forces are sold to Iraq at several times the price of comparable guns sold by other suppliers.

Saddam’s policy of squandering Iraq’s resources by paying outrageous prices to friendly states seems to be paying off. The irresponsibility and lack of morality these states are displaying in trying to keep the world’s worst butcher in power is perhaps indicative of a new world order. It is a world of winks and nods to emerging rogue states–for a price. It remains for the U.S. and its allies to institute an opposing order in which no price is high enough for dictators like Saddam to thrive.

Mr. Hamza, a former director of Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program, is the co-author of “Saddam’s Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda” (Scribner, 2000).