Thursday, November 10, 2005


Plame Game - About that 1.8 Tons of Uranium

The Anchoress is posting about that 1.8 tons of enriched urainium that was shipped out of Iraq in 2004. This 1.8 tons had been enriched out of the 500 tons that had been in a bunker in Al Tuwaitha since the end of the first Gulf War when it was initially discovered.

Again, Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse wrote about this in American Thinker.

"The story begins at the end of the first Gulf War when inspectors found a 500 ton cache of refined yellow cake uranium at Iraq’s primary nuclear research facility in Al-Tuwaitha outside of Bagdhad. The cache was part of a huge inventory of nuclear materials discovered by UN inspectors that included low-level radioactive material of the type used for industrial and medical purposes as well as a quantity of highly enriched uranium suitable for bomb production.

This HE uranium was shipped to Russia where it was made relatively harmless by a process known as “isotopic dilution” – but only after the Iraqis dragged their heels for more than 6 months following the cease fire by playing a cat and mouse game with the IAEA’s inspectors. The history of those early IAEA inspections can be found here and is an eye opening look at both the gullibility of the IAEA and the lengths to which Saddam sought to keep as much of his nuclear bomb making capability as he could.

The IAEA placed a seal on the nuclear materials in November of 1992. From then until the fall of Saddam, the agency attempted to make sure that Iraq did not use the yellow cake to reconstitute its nuclear program, something the IAEA acknowledged could be done if the Iraqis were able to rebuild its centrifuges and gain access to additional fissile material. Keeping track of the material was made extraordinarily difficult by the Iraqis who regularly impeded IAEA officials from carrying out even the most routine inspections.

Flash forward to 1999 when British intelligence found out through multiple sources that representatives of the Iraqi government had met with officials from the Niger government.

This fact is not in dispute. The mystery is in what they talked about."

Indeed, that's exactly what I've been investigating and posting about.

This recent Newsmax article brings the story into more focus. Here is what I feel the key part:

"In its May 22, 2004 edition, the New York Times confirmed a myriad of reports on Saddam's nuclear fuel stockpile - and revealed a chilling detail unknown to weapons inspectors before the war: that Saddam had begun to partially enrich his uranium stash.

The Times noted:

"The repository, at Tuwaitha, a centerpiece of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program, . . . . holds more than 500 tons of uranium . . . . Some 1.8 tons is classified as low-enriched uranium."

Thomas B. Cochran, director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Times that "the low-enriched version could be useful to a nation with nuclear ambitions."

"A country like Iran," Mr. Cochran said, "could convert that into weapons-grade material with a lot fewer centrifuges than would be required with natural uranium."

The paper conceded that while Saddam's nearly 2 tons of partially enriched uranium was "a more potent form" of the nuclear fuel, it was "still not sufficient for a weapon.

Consulted about the low-enriched uranium discovery, however, Ivan Oelrich, a physicist at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Associated Press that if it was of the 3 percent to 5 percent level of enrichment common in fuel for commercial power reactors, the 1.8 tons could be used to produce enough highly enriched uranium to make a single nuclear bomb.

Luckily, Iraq didn't have even the small number of centrifuges necessary to get the job done.

Or did it?

The physicist tapped by Saddam to run his centrifuge program says that after the first Gulf War, the program was largely dismantled. But it wasn't destroyed.

In fact, according to what he wrote in his 2004 book, "The Bomb in My Garden," Dr. Mahdi Obeidi told U.S. interrogators: "Saddam kept funding the IAEC [Iraq Atomic Energy Commission] from 1991 ... until the war in 2003."

"I was developing the centrifuge for the weapons" right through 1997, he revealed.

And after that, Dr. Obeidi said, Saddam ordered him under penalty of death to keep the technology available to resume Iraq's nuke program at a moment's notice.

Dr. Obeidi said he buried "the full set of blueprints, designs - everything to restart the centrifuge program - along with some critical components of the centrifuge" under the garden of his Baghdad home.

"I had to maintain the program to the bitter end," he explained. All the while the Iraqi physicist was aware that he held the key to Saddam's continuing nuclear ambitions.

"The centrifuge is the single most dangerous piece of nuclear technology," Dr. Obeidi said in his book. "With advances in centrifuge technology, it is now possible to conceal a uranium enrichment program inside a single warehouse."

Consider: 500 tons of yellowcake stored at Saddam's old nuclear weapons plant, where he'd managed to partially enrich 1.8 tons. And the equipment and blueprints that could enrich enough uranium to make a bomb stored away for safekeeping. And all of it at the Iraqi dictator's disposal.

If the average American were aware of these undisputed facts, the debate over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would have been decided long ago - in President Bush's favor.

One more detail that Mr. Wilson and his media backers don't like to discuss: the reason Niger was such a likely candidate for Saddam's uranium shopping spree.

Responding to the firestorm that erupted after Wilson's July 2003 column, Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters:

"In case people should think that the whole idea of a link between Iraq and Niger was some invention, in the 1980s we know for sure that Iraq purchased round about 270 tons of uranium from Niger."

Again, intelligence agencies had known for years prior to Joe Wilson's little trip that there was this little illicit trade operation in Niger, floating YC Uranium to rogue states like Libya, Iran, North Korea, China and yes, Iraq.

We also know that Saddam was attempting to reconsitute his nuclear program - if only he could get some sanctions lifted, a few neocons off his back.

All this blows the doors of the Democrat/Anti War left's argument of "No WMD". There was WMD. I could go on and post the proof, but Norman Podhoretz did the work and did it beautifully. Read it here.

UPDATE: For more Amnesia visit here and here.

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