By Dr. Imad Khadduri
In his speech in front of the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003, Colin Powell did not offer any viable new evidence concerning Iraq's nuclear weapon capability that Bush and his entourage continue to wave as a red flag in front of the eyes of the American people to incite them shamefully into an unjust war.
On the contrary, the few flimsy pieces of evidence that were presented by Powell regarding a supposed continued Iraqi nuclear weapon program serve only to weaken the American and British accusations and reveal their untenable attempt to cover with a fig leaf their thread bare arguments and misinformation campaign. The false and untrue pieces of evidence follow:
Powell, in a theatrical query, asked why the Iraqi scientists were asked to sign declarations (with a death penalty if not adhered to) not to reveal their secrets to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection teams. Exactly the opposite is true. The four or five, as I recall such declarations, which I read in detail, held us to the penalty of death in the event that we did not hand in all of the sensitive documents and reports that may still be in our possession!
Had Powell's intelligence services provided him with a copy of these declarations, and not depended on testimonies of "defectors" who are solely motivated by their self-promotion in the eyes of their "beholders," and availed himself to a good Arabic translation of what these declarations actually said, he would not, had he in any sense been abiding by the truth, mentioned this as "evidence."
This is exactly the cause of the second untruth brandished by Powell when he referred to the cache of documents seized in the house of Faleh Hamza: that Iraq is hiding or is still working on (it is hard to discern from the tangle of his words what is really meant) its "third" uranium enrichment process.
Faleh, according to my explanation of the above declarations, did not consider the reports on his work to be covered under this declaration for the following reason: Faleh did dabble during the eighties at the Physics Department in the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center itself -- but not under the nuclear weapon program activities which came under the label of the PetroChemical 3 program -- with the uranium laser enrichment process using a couple of medium range copper lasers.
His low-key research concluded that it was not yet viable to pursue this line of enrichment on a production scale, and the whole project folded up after it reached its cul-de-sac in 1988. He packed up and then joined the PC3 working on the Calutron enrichment method in 1989. Furthermore, this was well documented and explained in our final report to the IAEA inspectors in late 1997, which they confirmed and referred to in their own final report on the matter.
Yet, fully aware of this fact, the James Bondian and insulting manner with which UNMOVIC (following in the footsteps of their CIA-infiltrated UNSCOM predecessors) invaded the home of Faleh and searched it, exposing even the private belongings of his family to the glare of the cameras, added insult to injury and exponentially increased Faleh's position vis-ˆ-vis the authorities who were trying to protect the scientists from such American theatrics.
Arrogantly, the Americans are wondering why other scientists are not coming forward. Even worse, Blix chose to wave this torn flag in front of the Security Council in his report on Monday, January 27, 2003. This fact alone was one of the reasons I have decided to come out. Even Mohamed Baradei, the head of the IAEA, chided Blix the following day for not taking into account IAEA's knowledge on this matter, which was that the 3000 pages of documents were financial statements and Faleh's own lifetime research work and had nothing to do with the nuclear weapon program -- which is why he kept them at his home.
It was becoming apparent that Blix was succumbing to the American pressure tactics and leaned backwards to provide them with flimsy "proof" at the expense of his supposed fairness and mandate as a U.N. official. Powell grasped even this straw.
Powell only accused but did not provide any evidence that Iraq had tried to get nuclear grade fissile material since 1998. He vainly gave the impression that everything was set and readily waiting for just this material to be acquired and the atomic bomb would be rolling out the other door. He did not bother to ask himself the following questions:
Where is the scientific and engineering staff required for such an enormous effort when almost all of them have been living in abject poverty for the past decade, striving to simply feed their families on $20 a month, their knowledge and expertise rusted and atrophied under heavy psychological pressures and dreading their retirement pension salary of $2 a month?
Where is the management that might lead such an enterprise? The previous management team of the nuclear weapon program in the eighties exists only in memories and reports. Its members have retired, secluded themselves, or turned to fending for their livelihood of their families.
Where are the buildings and infrastructure to support such a program? The entire nuclear weapon program of the eighties has been either bombed by the Americans during the war or uncovered by the IAEA inspectors. It is impossible to hide such buildings and structures. Powell should only take a look at North Korea's atomic weapon facilities, or perhaps even Israel's, to realize the impossibility of hiding such structures with the IAEA inspectors scouring everything in sight.
Powell need only ask those on the ground, the IAEA inspectors delegated by the U.N. upon America's request, to receive the answers to all of the questions above. Instead, he chose to fabricate an untruth.
Finally, there are the infamous aluminum pipes that are supposed to be used in a centrifugal enrichment process. Powell and Bush should be able to relax regarding this point: they would have at least a ten-year attack period before Iraq would be able to militarize these pipes. According to the "American experts" themselves, such a process would need kilometers of strung-out, highly-tuned, delicately controlled spinners to fulfill their ill-wish for Iraq. To attempt not to be noticed by their satellites, PowerPoint presentations and colored arrows would be an intelligence folly.
This is not even to mention the lack of a stable electric power supply in Iraq or the phantom of highly technical staff to run these kilometers long "very high grade and expensive" mortar casings that are not made to U.S. military standards. Perhaps Powell's grievance was, "How dare Iraq think of such expensive mortars?"
Powell said: "Let me now turn to nuclear weapons. We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program." This verges on being humorous. But as the Arabic proverb goes: The worst kind of misfortune is that which causes you to laugh.
[Imad Khadduri has a MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network administrator in Toronto, Canada. He has been interviewed by the Toronto Star, Reuters, and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. This article was originally printed in YellowTimes.org, which was shut down immediately thereafter in what some are calling outright censorship.]
[yellowtimes.org is up again at a new ISP -- see The Demise of the Nuclear Bomb
"Full text of
Colin Powell's speech," Guardian, February 5, 2003
Eric Margolis, "Powell's 'Proof' is All Smoke and
Mirrors," Toronto Sun, February 9, 2003
Ahmed Janabi, "'US knew Iraq was WMD free',"
Aljazeera, February 15, 2004