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September 25, 2004
Iraq Hid Nuclear Program Intending On Rebuilding It

In the final report from the Iraq Survey Group, a team of American weapons inspectors in Iraq concluded that Saddam Hussein had no WMD stockpiles at the time of the US invasion that led to Iraq's liberation, but that Saddam fully intended to produce them as soon as economic and military sanctions were lifted. Now an Iraqi nuclear scientist has written a book detailing exactly how Saddam protected his nuclear-weapons secrets and making clear that he had every hope of controlling the Middle East with them (hat tip: Cranial Cavity):

AN IRAQI scientist-turned-author says the most significant pieces of his countrys dormant nuclear programme were buried under a lotus tree in his backyard, untouched for more than a decade before the US-led invasion in 2003.

But their existence, Dr Mahdi Obeidi writes in a new book, is evidence that the international community should remain vigilant as other countries try to replicate Iraqs successes before the 1991 Gulf war to develop components necessary for a nuclear weapon.

In The Bomb in my Garden, Dr Obeidi details Saddams quest for a nuclear bomb: "Although Saddam never had nuclear weapons at his disposal, the story of how close Iraq came to developing them should serve as a red flag to the international community."

It should also teach the world about the futility of so-called "inspections regimes" when dealing with fundamentally hostile and dangerous dictators. Saddam had long dreamed of creating an Iraq-centered pan-Arab political entity that would challenge both East and West and, through a monopoly on oil, control the world. But oil alone would not secure Saddam's Greater Arabia, and so he tried to build WMD in order to counter the power of the Americans, and to a lesser extent his Russian and Chinese sponsors.

Until he miscalculated the effect of his first step in that ambition -- capturing Kuwait -- he found that the world served as a great resource to his ambitions, even his nuclear ambitions. Dr. Obeidi describes how his team of scientists traveled the world to research and develop Iraqi nuclear technology. They worked with scholars and corporations in Switzerland, France, England, and the US, among other places, and created their own centrifuge system which would have allowed Iraq to develop their nuclear fuel in any small-size facility, making them difficult to find.

Even after the defeat in the first Gulf War and the imposition of sanctions, Saddam did his best to retain that technology and the research that created it. Saddam kept his Iraq Atomic Energy Commission active until his downfall in case an opportunity presented itself to restart development. Dr. Obeidi's yard held the most sensitive documents, buried under a tree, and only a handful of Iraqis knew of their existence.

No one knows how much more may be buried under trees throughout Iraq, but we know now that Saddam never intended on giving up his quest for nuclear weapons. We know he defied twelve years of UNSC resolutions ordering him to give up all of his research on the subject. We also know that twelve years of on-and-off inspections were useless to stop him.

Why is this important now that Saddam has been removed from power? Because we face the exact same situation in Iran, where mullahs use their oil revenue to fund global terrorism for a similar purpose: to create a pan-Islam state or commonwealth in the Middle East. The Iranian leadership plans on using the same tactic as Saddam in order to protect themselves from the West that Saddam did, and they likely have gotten farther along than Obeidi ever did. And the West, led by Iran's sponsors France and Germany, insist on the same failed process that allowed Saddam to defy the world and retain his nuclear-weapons research and talent.

In the end, the only inspections regime that worked was the one which discovered Saddam at the bottom of a spider hole. That inspection impressed Moammar Gaddafi into giving up his WMD program. It likely will be the only way that Iranian nuclear technology can be wrenched from the grip of the mullahs. The West needs to quit placing its faith on the reasonableness of terror-boosting totalitarians and get serious about disarming them before their weapons systems can threaten the West and further oppress the people of Southwest Asia.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 25, 2004 8:39 AM

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» Secrets of Saddam's nuclear programm hidden under tree from On the BorderLine -- St. Croix County Wisconsin
Captain Ed over at CQ has a great story on Saddam Hussein's Nuclear plans. Dr Mahdi Obeidi, an Iraqi scientist, said the most significant pieces of his country’s dormant nuclear programme were buried under a lotus tree in his backyard, untouched fo... [Read More]

Tracked on September 25, 2004 8:12 PM

» Syria Brokering Deal With Iran For Iraqi Nuclear Scientists from Diggers Realm
Syria's President is in negotiations with Iran to send over some of the Iraqi nuclear scientists that were sent to Damascus last year before the beginning of the Iraq war. Via The Telegraph Western intelligence officials believe that President Asad... [Read More]

Tracked on September 26, 2004 6:50 AM

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