The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report


Planned Magnet Production Lines at Al Tahadi

ISG has not uncovered information indicating that the magnet production capability being pursued by Iraq beginning in 2000 was intended to support a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program, but the magnet production lines would have allowed the Iraqis to preserve their skills for a centrifuge magnet program.

  • Iraq investigated use of centrifuges as one approach to manufacturing enriched uranium in their pre-1991 nuclear program.One of the centrifuge designs investigated included use of magnetic bearings to support the rotor. The pre-1991 Iraqi nuclear program was able to successfully test a magnetically supported rotor.
  • Iraq purchased Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt (AlNiCo) and Cobalt-Samarium (CoSm) ring magnets for their pre-1991, magnetic-bearing centrifuge program. Centrifuges can be designed to use a variety of ring magnets of different dimensions and materials.

ISG also cannot refute Iraq’s claim that the magnet production lines it sought beginning in 2000 were intended for other than routine industrial and military uses. The declared use of the magnet production lines were for production of ring magnets in the Saham Saddam Missile and for field telephones. According to Iraqi officials, the Iraqis chose to purchase the production lines in lieu of buying the magnets, which would have been cheaper. In addition, the Iraqis wanted the experience and knowledge that would eventually come with operating the lines. The Al Tahadi site was heavily looted after Operation Iraqi Freedom, and no documents or equipment remained at the site.

Procurement Details

The Al Tahadi Company contracted to purchase magnet production lines on two occasions beginning in 2000—neither of which were completed or delivered. Iraqi specifications for the magnet production lines were typically vague. The Al-Sirat Company, a trading company responding to MIC requests, initiated the first of two procurement efforts in 2000. The procured line would include cast or powered magnets of all types, including Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt (AlNiCo) and Samarium Cobalt (SmCo)—the latter was used in Iraq’s pre-1991 nuclear program. According to a MIC engineer experienced in magnet production, this contract for magnet production lines was signed in 2000 with a Romanian company.

  • The contract included equipment to manufacture AlNiCo ring, cubicle and cylindrical magnets ranging in mass from 0.5 to 500 grams—a range that could have supported production of magnets needed for centrifuges. Such magnets, however, also would have had to conform to specific density and morphology requirements for use in centrifuges.

The second contract for magnet production lines was signed in 2001 with a Belarusian company. Only some of the equipment specified in the contract was received, including a press machine and a mixer. The contract had included equipment to produce permanent ferrite magnets.


Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias