Iraqi scientists never revived their long-dead nuclear bomb program, and in fact lied to Saddam Hussein about how much progress they were making before U.S.-led attacks shut the operation down for good in 1991, Iraqi physicists say.The main Iraqi scientists cited in the story also says the US government lied to justify war:
Before that first Gulf War, the chief of the weapons program resorted to "blatant exaggeration" in telling Iraq's president how much bomb material was being produced, key scientist Imad Khadduri writes in a new book.
Other leading physicists, in Baghdad interviews, said the hope for an Iraqi atomic bomb was never realistic. "It was all like building sand castles," said Abdel Mehdi Talib, Baghdad University's dean of sciences.
At best, Khadduri writes, it would have taken Iraq several years to build a nuclear weapon if the 1991 war and subsequent U.N. inspections had not intervened.The story describes Khadduri as a US/UK trained physicist who "was in a pivotal position as coordinator of all its scientific and engineering information" until 1998. Of course, the story also references Iraqi scientists with more recent insight:
His self-published "Iraq's Nuclear Mirage," a chronicle of years of secret weapons work and of a final escape into exile, is part of this senior scientist's emergence from a low profile in Canada - intended to refute what he calls a "massive deception" in Washington that led the United States into war.
Months of searching by hundreds of U.S. experts have found no trace of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, just as U.N. inspectors found none before the war. No Iraqi scientists have confirmed the programs were revived in recent years.
An ex-bombmaker still in Iraq is just as dismissive of the unsubstantiated U.S. allegations.Hanley notes that the IAEA concluded in 1997 that Iraq never produced more than a few grams of nuclear-capable material -- when 40 pounds would have been needed for a bomb.
"There was no point in trying to revive this program. There was no material, no equipment, no scientists," former bomb designer Sabah Abdul Noor said in a recent interview at Baghdad's Technology University.
"Scientists were scattered and under the eyes of inspectors, totally scattered. To do a project, you have to be together."
Talib, the newly elected university dean, was an anti-Baathist who didn't participate in the bomb program, but was close to many who did. They vastly oversold their accomplishments before 1991, the physicist said.
"They put a lot of lies on Saddam Hussein," he said in a Baghdad interview. "They took a lot of money out of him through what you call, in English, bluffing." When their installations were finally demolished, it "saved their necks" by burying their mistakes, he said. "They could tell Saddam, `There's nothing left.'"