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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report

 

Iraqi Concealment of Carbon Fiber-Related Activity, Materials, and Documents After Desert Storm

In the short period between the end of Desert Storm and Iraq’s acceptance of Resolution 687, the EDC continued its development of gas centrifuges and resumed work on a 50-machine cascade—an effort that was part of a crash program to produce enriched uranium for a weapon by further enriching uranium from its safeguarded research reactor fuel. A senior nuclear scientist told ISG that, as soon as the 1991 Gulf war ended, a Presidential Scientific Advisor ordered the resumption of work on a 50-machine test cascade.

On adoption of Resolution 687, work ceased on the test cascade, and the Iraqi Concealment Committee took the decision to hide documents and equipment regarding gas centrifuge research from the UN. ISG analysis suggests that this was motivated by a desire to restart gas centrifuge research and production at a time when sanctions were lifted. However, by late-1991 the IAEA was actively removing and destroying the majority of Iraq’s centrifuge research program.

  • A senior Iraqi nuclear scientist recalled that one of the committee’s first decisions was to hide both the EDC’s Rashdiyah and Al Furat facilities and strip all nuclear-related material from them. The SSO was responsible for the removal and packaging of EDC documents and equipment.
  • The scientist also revealed that Iraq intended to build a 100-machine cascade when sanctions were lifted and that the EDC documents and components collected by the SSO in 1991 were to be used in this effort (see Figure 11).

In a separate action, Husayn Kamil ordered the retention of at least one copy of all nuclear-related documents and some centrifuge components by a senior nuclear scientist. In 1995, following Husayn Kamil’s defection, the IAEA seized a number of WMD-related documents and items of equipment from the Haidar Chicken Farm. The equipment seized included spools of high tensile, carbon fiber, and other centrifuge-associated components.

In 2003, Al ‘Ubaydi publicly revealed that he had retained centrifuge-related equipment and documents at his home throughout the 1990s and during many UN inspections. Al ‘Ubaydi stated that this had been done in response to Husayn Kamil’s order to keep a copy of all centrifuge-related documents.

The MIC Carbon Fiber Project in 2001/2002

The MIC carbon fiber project in 2001/2002 began exploring carbon fiber technology for use in the Iraqi Missile Program and was managed by the MIC-owned Al Rashid State Company. The material researched was specifically for use in the al Fat’h missile, and possibly the Al Naqwa anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). The project aimed to create an indigenous carbon-fiber-based production capability, based on previous experience with the Brazilian ASTROS Rocket in the 1980s, and included the refurbishment of one filament winding machine already within Iraq and the production of a second. At the time of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the refurbishment of the first machine was 50 percent complete, and the production of the second had not started.

Al ‘Ubaydi, the former head of the Iraqi centrifuge project, played a role in the MIC carbon fiber project. ISG has not found any evidence to suggest that Al ‘Ubaydi was involved in the project at the technical level. His main role was to head the committee that selected the company to build the filament winding machine.

In mid-2002, the Al Rashid State Company took delivery of a filament winding machine from the IAEC. This machine was to be refurbished because it was in a nonoperational state, and the design then copied for the second filament winding machine. According to a former MIC scientist the IAEC, the carbon fiber filament winding machine had not been used since 1990. The scientist was not aware of why the IAEC had such a machine.

ISG investigations and debriefs with multiple officials reveal that the minimum production diameter of the filament winding machines under development by MIC was 500 mm. This is consistent with the al Fat’h missile. This is significantly wider than the carbon fiber rotor used in the pre-1991 Iraqi gas centrifuge, which had a diameter of approximately 145 mm.

Limited information indicates that the filament winding machines may have been used in the manufacture of components for the Al Naqwa ATGM. This missile has a diameter of between 150-200 mm and is much more closely matched to that of the pre-1991 carbon fiber rotor. However, ISG has been unable to find information to corroborate this claim, and a second report stated that the Al Naqwa ATGM motor case was made on a turning machine and not a winding machine.

With the exception of the filament winding machine that the Al Rashid State Company received from the IAEC, ISG has not found any further evidence of cooperation between MIC and the IAEC on the carbon fiber project, or any instances of the IAEC taking an interest in the progress or results of the research undertaken by MIC. Multiple source debriefs support this in that numerous former IAEC and MIC employees attest to the fact that the IAEC and MIC rarely worked together on joint projects.

 



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