Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report

 

Carbon Fiber

ISG investigations have revealed that MIC’s carbon fiber project was ultimately aimed toward the production of components for missiles; specifically, the combustion chambers of the al Fat’h missile. ISG has found no evidence to suggest that the MIC’s carbon fiber project in 2001/2002 was connected to a program to restart uranium enrichment gas centrifuge production; however, the project would have allowed Iraq to acquire valuable carbon-fiber-related knowledge that could be used in the future reconstitution of a centrifuge program.

Carbon Fiber and Iraq’s Pre-1991 Gas Centrifuge Program

Iraq’s magnetic-bearing centrifuge uranium enrichment program began in mid-1988 when German engineers brought European centrifuge design information to Baghdad. Further deliveries by additional German engineers gave the Engineering Design Center (EDC) a significant body of centrifuge design details. These German contacts also arranged procurement and technology transfer applicable to the design, production and operation of centrifuge cascades.

  • In 1989, maraging steel cylinder fabrication proved difficult, and the EDC acquired a consignment of about 20 carbon fiber cylinders from a German supplier in 1990. Iraq used some of these cylinders to develop test machines for its centrifuge program.
  • Iraq was arranging for a shipment of winding equipment and materials when sanctions were imposed in 1990. A winder and large quantity of carbon fiber for EDC never reached Iraq.

After adopting UNSCR Resolution 687 in April 1991, Iraq ceased work on centrifuge development, although the Iraqi Concealment Committee took the decision to hide documents and equipment related to this program Although IAEA inspections were able to expose significant activities related to the centrifuge program, Iraq continued to conceal significant centrifuge documents and materials until the defection of Husayn Kamil in 1995. This defection triggered additional disclosures to IAEA inspectors.

  • Mahdi Shakur Al ‘Ubaydi—the former head of the pre-1991 centrifuge program—continued to hide centrifuge components and documentation for future effort after the Husayn Kamil defection. We cannot link Al ‘Ubaydi’s efforts to hide these materials after 1994 to any instruction from Regime officials.

The EDC successfully produced two centrifuges using imported carbon fiber rotors and foreign assistance by mid-1990, one of which was tested with UF6 feed. In 1989, the EDC began seeking machinery and raw materials to establish an indigenous carbon fiber production capability in support of a centrifuge production effort.

  • This included the attempted procurement of a filament winding machine from the ALWO company in Switzerland and carbon fiber, which was sought through an order placed with the German company ROSCH (see Figures 9, 10, and 11).

However, ISG analysis suggest that, at the time of Desert Storm, Iraq did not have the capability to indigenously produce carbon fiber suitable for use in gas centrifuges.

  • A former senior MIC executive revealed to ISG that, although Iraq had the capability to produce epoxy resin for carbon fiber applications, it had no capability to produce carbon fiber. The That Al-Suwari Company E-Glass plant could produce only low-strength fiber glass.
  • An ISG site survey of South Taji, conducted in January 2004, found no evidence of carbon fiber production or a latent capability to produce carbon fiber.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list