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Saddam's Bombmaker is Full of Lies

IMAD KHADDURI / YellowTimes.org Guest Columnist (Canada) 27nov02

The book "Saddam's Bombmaker," recently published by Khidhir Hamza, recounted the author's 22 years of experience with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC). Hamza exaggerated to a great extent his own role in the nuclear weapon program. As I personally know the author and have worked with him during these two decades, I wish to clarify the following untruths and misinformation that has been postulated by him in his book.

Khidhir Hamza

There is a huge difference between those who worked with the government for scientific and professional reasons despite being under the sharp sword of government security agencies, and those who try to hide their fear with a fig leaf. A few scientists who believed in their work realized the slippery road they were treading and tried to leave before and after the 1991 Gulf War. While some were able to flee Iraq, others, such as Dr. Al Shahrastsani (who was also charged with other offenses), ceased his work despite the penalty of death given to such rebellious actions.

But when the bells of fear first started to ring in Hamza's mind in 1974, when he prepared the first nuclear weapons project report at the request of the government, he decided to stay in Iraq until it was convenient for him to go abroad. In the '70s and '80s, it would have been much easier and less risky to leave, yet he wallowed in Iraq in nice Mercedes cars while attending scientific conventions with lavish stipends. He kept deluding himself, as he naively mentions in his book, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAE) or the CIA would contact him and magically whisk him out of Iraq as if on a flying carpet.

Even though he was the head of the physics department in the nuclear research center for ten years during the seventies, his deep inner fear of radiation prevented him from ever entering the reactor hall or touching any scientific gadgets, probably due to his continual fear of an electric jolt that he experienced as a child, as his book mentions.

Hamza's aversion to scientific experimentation drove him to insist on working solely on the highly theoretical three-body-problem during the seventies, far removed from any of the initial work on fission that was carried on during that period at the Iraqi Nuclear Research Center. He did not, even remotely, get involved in any scientific research, except for journalistic articles, dealing with the fission bomb, its components or its effects. The testimony to this is the recorded archive of the IAEC for the seventies that point to the efforts of others in this field, and none to the self-proclaimed "bombmaker."

At the end of the seventies, he completely refused to take any responsibility in the Iraqi purchased French research reactor, and left that task to the great Egyptian scientist, Dr. Yehya El Meshad, who was assassinated by the Israeli Mossad in Paris in 1980.

After he again withdrew from any leadership responsibility for the nuclear weapon project which started in earnest in 1980 in direct response to the Israeli attack on the OSIRAK reactor, leaving it to one of Iraq's great physicists, Hamza was merely assigned the gaseous diffusion project. He did, in fact, spend some effort in buying the fine filters needed for that project, but his fear of entering the project hall was a cause of many hilarious puns.

In the mid eighties, Hamza was asked by Hussain Kamil to write a report on the progress of the weapon program to present to the government. In response to this report, the whole program was put under the control and guidance of Hussain Kamil himself in 1987. The pace of work accelerated immensely until 1991. However, during that time, the "bombmaker" was kicked out of the program at the end of 1987 for stealing a few air conditioning units from the building assigned to his project. This he conveniently omitted to mention in his book, but cited frequent travels abroad to garner assistance and equipment, while in fact he was an outcast to the project and did not attend any seminar or brainstorming sessions during that intense period.

The "bombmaker" did make a great deal in his book of his role in building the Al Atheer weapon manufacturing center during the late eighties, while in fact he was going in circles doing nothing at the Tuwaitha Research Center, as a mere has-been, and did not even have an office space in Al Atheer. He was, in fact, assigned the peripheral job of writing a report on the American Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) project and spent his time collecting whatever information was available in the library from newspapers and scientific journals. He spent all his time during these critical years in the library and, in 1989, was made a sort of consultant, still loosely attached to the IAEA, but also taught at a university two days a week, far removed from any bomb making.

In addition, he was thoroughly annoyed and bitter regarding the rejection by the CIA of his appeal for them to take him, through the auspices of the Iraqi National Congress representative in the north of Iraq, where he fled alone, leaving his family behind, in 1994. He pathetically thought that the CIA was not aware of his miniscule role in the bomb making, especially after the weapon program's scientific report fell in the hands of the IAEA inspectors in 1991. He claimed to be the container of secrets while in fact he was only regurgitating them. Worse than that, he claims in his book that the CIA, in 1995, fabricated a story published in an English newspaper of his submitting a report on the supposed continued Iraqi nuclear program just to ferret him out of his hiding place. Being a teacher at that time in a Libyan University is not a place to hide, to say the least.

The extent of his fear climaxed when the Iraqi government sent his son to Libya to persuade him to return. He repulsed his son's appeals and again scrambled to Europe, knocking desperately at the doors of the IAEA and the CIA, who again gave him the cold shoulder. But then, it is most probable, the CIA reconsidered his case in the light of the escape of Hussain Kamil to Jordan and his revelation of yet more hidden technical reports at his chicken farm in Iraq. The CIA thus hoped that Hamza might fill in some small gaps on information and took him under their wings, helping him and his family to settle in the U.S. under their protection and strings.

I can only recall the image of "the bombmaker" straggling for two decades during the seventies, eighties and early nineties with his tail between his legs, looking over his shoulders and running to whomever gave him a piece of bone with some meat on it, to then suddenly springing from his cocoon at the end of the nineties as a Don Quixote with an American mask. Brandishing his wooden sword in the small arena afforded to him by the CIA, he counted on the silence of his colleagues, either out of fear of the Iraqi security agencies or the blind cruelty of the American ones, to not expose his phony claims in his book, which may be rendered as a repayment to the CIA for their services to him. His appearances on the weekly American talk shows are truly a reflection of his present allegiances.

The reader might question the motive of my writing on this sensitive subject and the personal tack apparent in it. All I can say is that even if silence is gold, then not speaking out at this time against such fallacies is a stigma of cowards.

[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.]

Imad Khadduri encourages your comments: imad.khadduri@rogers.com

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source: http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=889 28nov02

Who is Khidhir Hamza?

IMAD KHADDURI / YellowTimes.org Guest Columnist (Canada) 27nov02

Last month, Khidhir Hamza, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist who defected to the U.S. in 1994, testified before a U.S. Senate panel investigating Iraq's nuclear armaments. Hamza told U.S. Senators that Iraq was three years away from creating up to three atomic bombs. Containment would not work with Iraq, Hamza claims. He strongly suggested regime change.

Hamza was joined by famed Oscar-nominee (former UNSCOM weapons inspector) Richard Butler. Butler so vehemently implicated Iraq behind the anthrax spread last fall that CNN rewarded him with a permanent chair next to the 'sexy' Paula Zahn. Since then, no evidence has emerged that implicates Iraq or any foreign country. In fact, recent news reports seem to indicate that the anthrax spores were homegrown.

There are some facts to consider about Hamza: The first is that he has not been in Iraq since 1994. Eight years out of the country and the man thinks he is an expert. The UNSCOM team acknowledges that their absence from Iraq for four years has made them blind to Iraqi activities. So, then, where is Hamza getting his information? I, for one, would like to see it. Quoting 'other' intelligence sources is not enough.

Secondly, Hamza is one of hundreds of prominent Iraqi scientists and engineers. The man, by far, does not hold exclusive knowledge of Iraq's weapons programs.

Consider also Hamza's flair for misinformation and contradiction. In January 1999, Hamza addressed the Seventh Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference (Carnegie Endowment For International Peace Non-Proliferation Project - January 11-12, 1999; Washington, D.C.):

"The plans were made and designed for an eventual production of 100 kilogram bomb -- six bombs. That would be a reasonable arsenal in something like five to 10 years. So in a decade or so, Iraq would become a real nuclear power like Israel."

Hamza spoke as a representative of the Institute for Science and International Security.

In 1999, Hamza spoke of six bombs in no more than 10 years. Yesterday, he told the U.S. Senate it was three bombs in no more than three years. Fine. Let's give the man the benefit of the doubt. It has been three years since his Carnegie speech. However, the misinformation continues.

Douglas Pasternak and Stacey Schultz of U.S. News interviewed Hamza in December 2001. The following is an excerpt from their subsequent article:

"Hamza and his colleagues had 31 kilograms of uranium from their Osiraq reactor that had been destroyed by Israeli bombers in 1981, from which they could distill 18 kilograms enriched enough to form the core. But they also knew that any such move would set off alarms at the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitored Iraq's use of uranium, and that Iraq would be stopped from developing any more enriched uranium. Thus, Iraq would be able to build only one oversize bomb. Informed of this, Hamza says, Saddam agreed to shift to concentrating on using chemical and biological weaponry to halt the allied forces of Desert Storm."

"Even worse, he says, he is certain that Saddam Hussein has been rebuilding Iraq's chemical and biological programs-a task far easier than reconstituting the nuclear program."

In the above article, Hamza indicates that Iraq is focusing on non-nuclear weaponry. At the Senate hearing, Hamza seems to have backtracked and said that Iraq is focusing on its nuclear program. If Iraq was able to build only one bomb in 1990, before allied bombings and intensive UNSCOM inspections and monitoring, how could they possibly build three, let alone six bombs now?

Earlier in October 2001, Hamza participated in an online chat for CNN. Following are excerpts:

"CHAT PARTICIPANT: If America could just do one thing in Iraq, what would you like see happen?

"HAMZA: I would like to see the Iraqi opposition better trained, some two or three thousand persons, trained and sent back into south Iraq, and supported by U.S. Air Force, no U.S. troops, just Air Force, doing what it is doing now, but a little more intensely. By watching Saddam's troop movement and making them stay in their box, is all that's required right now. Just send the Iraqi opposition trained militia, and support them there. That's the only thing we need now. That's the official position right now of the Iraqi opposition, they want to be supported this way, with some resources provided, say food and some equipment. Minimal cost opposition. Much less than is being done in Afghanistan right now, for instance. This way, the U.S. would eliminate the major terrorist government in the Middle East right now, probably the world."

The above statement from Hamza is ominously identical to positions expressed by former CIA Chief Woolsley, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, and other hawks calling for Iraq's regime change.

The above also leaves open the question of Hamza's reliability. In claiming the official position of the Iraqi opposition, Hamza comes off sounding like their spokesperson. Consequently, all his opinions are skewed and biased. According to the CIA itself, the Iraqi opposition is known for manipulating, lying, distorting and fabricating defections and news coming out of Iraq to garner support for an attack on Iraq.

What also sticks out like a sore thumb is Hamza's own CV. Did he really head Iraq's nuclear weapons program? In 1999, David Albright and Kevin O'Neill published a report for the Institute for Science and International Security titled "Iraq's Efforts to Acquire Information about Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Related Technologies from the United States." In the report, Hamza is listed as "a senior Iraqi nuclear scientist who held several high-level positions in Iraq's pre-Gulf War nuclear weapons program." The question is why did the very institute where Hamza worked not list him as head or director of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program? Does this distinction not carry a weight of its own? And why the reference to pre-Gulf War? Did Albright and O'Neill know that Hamza's role after the Gulf War was negligible? That certainly does not make Hamza "Bombmaker" for Saddam, Winnie the Pooh, or Bozo the Clown.

There have been widespread allegations that Hamza was little more than a mid-level physicist in Iraq. According to the Center for Non-proliferation Studies (CNS) and the CNS Monitoring Proliferation Threats Nuclear Abstract Database, Hamza was definitely not the head of Iraq's nuclear weapons program. From an article available on that database: "documents were faxed to the Times' offices from Greece by a person claiming to be acting on behalf of Dr. Khidhir Abdul Abas Hamza, a physicist known to have worked on electromagnetic enrichment of uranium (EMIS) for Iraq's nuclear weapons program, PC-3." (Nuclear Fuel, 4/24/95, p. 16, by Mark Hibbs)

The article goes on to state "the IAEA confirmed that Hamza worked in Iraq's nuclear program, and the Sunday Times located an article published in the 2/79 issue of Nuovo Cimento, a scientific journal, by "K A A Hamza of the Nuclear Research Center, Tawattha [Tuwaitha], Baghdad."

However, according to Hamza's own CV (available at http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/cvhamza.html), Hamza was not a part of the Nuclear Research Center at Tuwaitha in 1979. Hamza was Head of the Fuel Division, Theoretical Section at the Iraqi Atomic Agency between 1975 and 1980. In the publications section of the CV, no mention is made of the above article in Nuovo Cimento.

Isn't it peculiar that the IAEA, a much-lauded nuclear watchdog among other things, did not recognize that Hamza was head of Iraq's nuclear program but rather as someone who worked in the program? Would the IAEA never have met the men during its course of work in Iraq? That's a little hard to fathom.

The answer may lie in Hamza's own bungling. By his own admission in the September/October 1998 issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: "Over the years, I had many roles. I was chief of the fuel division in the 1970s, head of the theoretical division of the enrichment program in the 1980s, scientific adviser to the chairman of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) in the mid-1980s, and--for a brief period in 1987--director of weaponization."

"For a brief period." Touching words. A brief period in 1987 and yet the man is touted as the brilliant head of Iraq's nuclear program.

Of course it was a brief period because in 1988, Hamza took charge of Theory and Modeling of the Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) Project and Manager in charge of the Iraqi delegation to Poland.

Despite the discrepancy in his CV, the fact that the IAEA never recognized him as head of the nuclear program, and quite amazingly, his own admission that he was the head for a brief period ending in 1988, Hamza is brandished as Iraq's chief bombmaker. In interviews on major news outlets, Hamza is referred to as Iraq's most senior nuclear scientist who miraculously is still alive today to tell the tale.

Mr. Hamza, just who in blue blazes are you really?

Greed and prejudice answer that question - prejudice in that Hamza is bent on seeing a Shiite government take power in Iraq. In his 1999 Carnegie Conference speech, Hamza said: "For example, the Iranians present themselves as defenders of the Shi'is (sic) which is a majority of the Iraqi population, which is not the actual government. They are not representative of the actual government. Now, that is a threat to all other groups in Iraq."

Earlier, this article showed that Hamza strongly endorsed the Iraqi opposition. The most infamous Iraqi opposition group is the Iraqi National Congress (INC) who have been in bed with the CIA and Mossad for nearly a decade now.

Finally, we come to the most important factor: Money. Hamza wants to be shown the money. In every single segment, every single interview, every single talking head and sound bite, we hear of Hamza's book "Saddam's Bombmaker." Who would buy a book from a mid-level physicist, or a part-time head of a nuclear program? Nah, beef it up a little. Call yourself head of the nuclear program for the longest time, say 20 years. A nice even number. Then proclaim that you have all the secrets on all of Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Don't mention how you got all this information.

Start to raise your hands about Iraq invading Zimbabwe and sending fissile material to Uranus. That should scare a few people. Tell everyone Saddam is coming to get them. Get on every radio show and babble your way through the scripted lines you were given. Endorse every attempt to attack Iraq. Endorse your chums in the INC.

Sit back and watch sales of your book soar.

The book is hilarious by any account. Hamza has claimed that the Iraqi nuclear weapons program drained him and drove all of Iraq's scientists and engineers feverishly under the threat of prison and execution. Yet despite all his workload, Hamza had time to describe sexual exploitation of women in the Iraqi leadership, germ paranoia, human guinea pigs and the incredible claim that Iraq stockpiled barrels of germs and bio-gunk in the path of allied troops.

Sounds like A Thousand and One Nights. But then again, Arabs are always counted on to embellish a few here and there.

So, who are you again, Mr. Hamza?

According to Scott Ritter, UNSCOM's most aggressive former weapons inspector, who appeared on a July 31st edition of CNN's Crossfire, you are a liar.

source: http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=888 28nov02

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