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like we are going through an exercise, which is totally symbolic in nature, to invite inspectors back in on the basis that somehow that is going to solve this problem.
Dr. HAMZA. How would it solve in the future? Suppose we solve it. We agree. I don't agree we are going to solve it now even. What is there cannot be found now. It is already organized in such a way it is impossible to find. But, suppose you did find it. Suppose inspectors can claim knowledge they don't have and can go in and take what is there. What guarantee do you have it is not going to put together, put back together again in the future and the whole program won't be rejuvenated and working in say two years from now, three years from now?
So, the whole thing depends on the will of the government. If the government is not willing to give this up, and it is not, for obvious reasons, throughout all the time and all the problem going everybody is going through, it lost hundreds of billions—well, I don't know, 100, 120 billion in oil revenues to keep the system.
So, what guarantee is there, with a government that accepted such a huge loss, not to allow the system to be dismantled, it will in the future somehow forget about it and drop this option and let everything go? What kind of guarantee anybody has? Would anybody be really ready to guarantee this?
Mr. HUNTER. Let me ask you another question. It has been mentioned that Saddam Hussein is—has, and you mentioned that he basically got his scientists together and said we must move out on a program and have a nuclear weapons program. Did he did you regularly get communications from Saddam Hussein or from his offices to the nuclear weapons community, to the scientists community?
Dr. HAMZA. I have just to make a point that Saddam founded all the WMD programs and the missile. He took over atomic energy personally, as chairman in 1973.
Mr. HUNTER. He took it over personally?
Dr. HAMZA. Personally. He ran all the WMD programs personally. He chose the administrators, he chose the staff, most of the senior staff. He also took away the financing of the WMD from the general government budget and made it into the revolutionary council budget, which is separate. So, he personally, because he runs the revolutionary council even when he was Vice President. The President never attended the meetings of the revolutionary council, so automatically as vice president, he became the chairman. So, the whole budget was appropriated by him. The actual personnel chosen was by him. The approval of the programs were by him from day one.
I mean, I went as a head of the Iraqi delegation to France in 1974 to purchase a reactor through his orders. He was my chairman then. And, we—when we suggested negotiating a nuclear cooperation treaty with the France, India, he went personally and signed them, in France and in India. So, you—this is his own creation. The whole WMD program, in all its phases is his personal creation. And, he nurtured it personally and followed it personally. There is nothing in the world that would make him give it up.
Mr. HUNTER. Did you have any conversations with him?
Mr. HUNTER. Tell me about the nuclear reactor that the Israelis destroyed in—was it 1982?
Dr. HAMZA. In 1981, June 1981.
Dr. HAMZA. That reactor was actually internationally supervised facility. We were—Dr. Jaffer and I, the head of the nuclear program now there. We were actually planning on using it in some kind of arrangement to irradiate some extra uranium, which we have, and extract the plutonium out of that in a facility provided to us by the Italians. So, it was a slow, long-range process because the French were there. Inspectors will come every six months to inspect this facility. When the Israelis bombed out that reactor, true, it delayed our program for some time. But, it was a relief to Saddam. He just did not want everybody looking over our shoulder what we are doing and we are cheating with the extra time we can find.
He wanted a totally secret program, totally at our control. So when the Saudis offered to buy us another reactor, he refused. He took the money and diverted it into the enrichment program. He asked what alternative can we have to build our own system, and we told him it is enrichment. He jumped the staff from 400 working in the French reactor to 7,000 in 5 years. The budget raised from 400 million to 10 billion by the onset of the Gulf War.
Mr. HUNTER. To ten billion? Dr. HAMZA. To ten billion, the cost of the program at the onset of the Gulf War. So, actually what we had, what we started with, which was a nuclear program to basically ongoing to make two or three nuclear weapons or four max, turned into a large entity, which is meant to produce a larger amount of nuclear weapons and turn Iraq into a serious nuclear power in the region.
Mr. HUNTER. And, in your estimation, we have heard a lot of estimates from U.N.—the U.N. analyses as to how close Iraq was to having a nuclear weapon at the time of the Gulf War. How far away were you at that time?
Dr. HAMZA. Actually, Ambassador Butler gave a very accurate estimate, which is six months.
Mr. HUNTER. You were about six months away?
Mr. HUNTER. And yet, the Western analyses before we had the war, the projections were that you were three to five years away.
Dr. HAMZA. Yeah, exactly. And, that is
Mr. HUNTER. To what do you attribute that, because we have a lot of people we send to college and send to intelligence schools and are supposed to be great analysts of intelligence information, and yet they were totally off, obviously, with that estimate.
To what do you attribute that huge disparity between what we thought Saddam had and what you, as a member of his nuclear weapons program, say you really did have, which was a six month time table? I mean, that ended up making a lot of congressmen look like fools because the congressmen, some very prestigious congressmen, would get up on the Senate and House floor, and would talk about how we had three to five years and how we should have sanctions against Iraq and slowly they would come around. And yet when we got there, we had this six month timetable we were deal
ing with. To what do you attribute the gap between what we thought Iraq had, three to five-year program, and what they really had, which was six months to a nuclear weapon.
Dr. HAMZA. It is security, the huge security, which controlled the flow of information out of Iraq. The security was so tight and so brutal, even people who defected did not talk about the program. I heard a man who was in charge of the communication between the tests for the bomb, testing explosives, and the equipment in an underground facility. And, he defected.
And, we were terrified that at the time because security was hovering around us, how did you let him go and everybody was banging us all the time that actually Kamel said that is it. Everybody will know now. And, nobody knew because he didn't talk. He was afraid for his family. So, the security was so tight and so brutal and retribution, that anybody, even those who left, did not talk.
So, in the end, the flow of information is what deceived everybody. For example, during the Gulf War, you bombed only three seriously out of seven sites doing nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapon facility itself, of which this guy ran out, the one I just told you about, the communication engineer. Okay, this is the man who left, he knew this facility. The U.S. did not know about it. They did not bomb it.
So, the main nuclear weapons site was unknown. Three other sites were unknown. Out of seven sites, the U.S. bombed only three seriously and one was hit incidentally. This is control of information. This is security. Human intelligence is just not there. And, when you don't have it, there is no way you can tell what is going on down there.
Mr. HUNTER. What happened to the fissile material that you had at the time of the Gulf War?
Dr. HAMZA. It was French fuel actually, which was bomber grade. And, it was delivered to the inspectors. Some of the roads were chopped for an experimental reason, but—to experiment with extracting the uranium out of it. But most of it was-remained intact and all of it with the chopped pieces was delivered to the inspectors.
Mr. HUNTER. So, what you had at that time was confiscated and that is what set the Iraqi program back again was the war and the interruption of the program and the war.
Dr. HAMZA. Yes. The war and the six months was to make that one weapon. That was the estimate. It is not that a production facility would be on-line, no. It was not six months away. What would be in the six months is one nuclear weapon using the French fuel.
Mr. HUNTER. And, then you would have—the production line to make more weapons would have followed on after that.
Dr. HAMZA. Yeah. That was down the road, something like two,
Mr. HUNTER. Dr. Milhollin, it is a great opportunity to have you here at the same time as Dr. Hamza, because you are able to—we are able to get some insight literally from the inside and also have your analytical capability at hand. What are your—do you have any observations having listened to Dr. Hamza and understand what was going on on the other side of this—of these technology
transfers and in any lessons for the United States that you think we should learn from this?
Dr. MILHOLLIN. Well, first I would like to say that I believe the reason for the difference in the estimates is that the intelligence community, giving the estimates of three to five years, assumed that the French fuel and some Russian fuel also in Iraq would not be diverted from international safeguards because they were being inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Mr. HUNTER. But, how often were they being inspected?
Dr. HAMZA. Presumably every six months, but that is when it started. After the six months, we immediately got the order to
Mr. HUNTER. So, I mean, what do you have? You have Saddam Hussein's promise that he really, truly is not going to use it for a weapon.
Dr. MILHOLLIN. Well, one of the problems was the IAEA's rules. They had rules for what they called material balance areas. And, if you didn't have enough for a bomb in a particular area, then you didn't have to inspect it as often.
So, we had these inspections every six months because the agency took the position that you shouldn't add all the amounts up in the country. We learned after the war began that, in fact, Iraq had enough material for one bomb, but it was spread out at different locations. But, because of the IAEA rules, they weren't inspecting it every three weeks as they would have to do if it were all in one place.
So, we had a problem with the IAEA's own rules, that was only discovered after the war began. But again, I think the difference for the estimates, the difference in the estimates is the assumption that it would not be the—the material would not be diverted. I think if you asked the CIA how long it would take if the material was subverted, they would have had a different answer.
Dr. HAMZA. I have some comment on this. Actually, it is worse than this. The International Atomic Energy Agency, despite reports in Der Spiegel and other journals about the Germans providing us with the technology for uranium enrichment, declared Iraq to be clean in the area of nuclear weapons. So, the whole structure that was built around a destroyed reactor basically, the French reactor was destroyed and atomic energy kept growing. And, inspectors were there.
Nobody asked “What are these buildings doing here? There is no reactor. What are you working on?” So what was going on is a huge infrastructure built up to make nuclear weapons, and at the same time, the IAEA vouching for Iraq that Iraq is not working on nuclear weapons despite all kinds of reports being in the media about Iraq purchases and Iraq acquisition of nuclear technology, which is meant for nuclear weapons.
Mr. HUNTER. Is there a chance that there is right now an operating centrifuge facility in Iraq that we simply don't know about?
Dr. HAMZA. I believe, yes. I believe Iraq is now in the pilot plant stage for centrifuge production. I mean, it has some several units of centrifuge together. Of course, you need thousands to be in the production stage. But, I believe Iraq has several centrifuges right
now in working order. The order for the aluminum tubes indicate that this is past.
Mr. HUNTER. That this is what now?
Dr. HAMZA. That this is done. This is past. What is coming on is a production system, and for the production system, you need a huge number of tubes. But, Iraq is already over the pilot plant stage.
Nr. HUNTER. Well, when you say they are already over the pilot plant stage, you think there is a chance that they may have enough material now to make a bomb?
Dr. HAMZA. No. In the pilot plant stage, you don't get enough material to make a bomb. You get probably few kilograms at most over several years. Pilot plant stage would be something like 50 units operating 20, 30, 40, 50 units. What you need for a bomb is 1,000 and over. Then you can have probably enough for a bomb in a couple of years. Several thousand you will have enough in one year for a bomb.
Mr. HUNTER. Is there any-now you have seen, Dr. Hamza, the discussion about these tubes, and speculation about them. Is there any doubt in your mind but that these tubes were to be used for the nuclear weapons program.
Dr. HAMZA. No. Not with the specifications that we have been hearing about. They are high technology quality, not usually used or intended for use in ordinary, mundane everyday things. These are technologically viable tubes for a nuclear weapon program.
Mr. HUNTER. Did you ever order these tubes yourself?
Dr. HAMZA. No, I am not part of the enrichment until later part. I stayed with the enrichment untill 1985, and then left it and became Advisor to Atomic Energy, and later on worked in the nuclear weapon. Enrichment is another group. But, I was aware of what was going on because I used the output as the head of the nuclear weapon program for a while.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Mr. Milhollin, tell us a little bit about, from your perspective, what is the state of security with respect to technology transfers going to countries like Iraq pre-'91 and post '91? Did we really improve things with respect to the flow of militarily useful technology out of the West?
Dr. MILHOLLIN. Well, during the mid and late 1980s, we had a policy of building up Saddam Hussein as a counter to Iran. That policy resulted in sharing intelligence information. It also resulted in directions in effect from the White House to the Commerce Department to facilitate dual-use exports to Iraq. This policy resulted in—I guess, I have to be fair-it resulted in a bending of the rules. Things were being held up because our government knew that they were sensitive, they were going to places that we knew were making missiles, we knew were making nuclear weapons or at least we suspected were making nuclear weapons.
But, political pressure from the White House caused the government to lower the barriers, and this technology went out. That happened in the late 1980s. It is a sad story, but it is, nevertheless, undeniable.
Did we learn anything from this? We did. There was an effort after the Gulf War to increase export controls. We—there was an effort to adopt what is called a catch-all clause, meaning if you