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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report


IAEC Modernization

Interest in the IAEC and Intervention by Saddam Husayn

From at least 1999 onward Saddam became increasingly interested in the activities of the IAEC and began holding regular meetings with representatives of the IAEC. Saddam also began to personally intervene in matters related to the IAEC, ranging from internal personnel issues, to prompting other organizations to work with the IAEC and utilize the IAEC’s scientific capabilities. In late 1996, Saddam agreed to the Oil-for-Food program, resulting in significant fund, which he was able to use to bolster his scientific base.

  • A former scientist at the IAEC spoke of many scientists leaving the IAEC in 1999 because conditions were so poor. The scientist claims that Saddam personally intervened, beginning in 1999, to improve conditions and raise salaries. He also made what the scientist called “a blanket rule” at this time forbidding scientists from leaving their posts.
  • Dr. Huwaysh recalled that in 2001 and 2002 the frequency of meetings between Saddam and Iraqi nuclear scientists increased. During the same time frame, Saddam also issued a Presidential Order to the President of the IAEC, Dr. Fadil Al-Janabi, that he should keep nuclear scientists together at the IAEC in order to pool their skills and have them available when needed for starting numerous new projects. Dr. Huwaysh did not know the specific details of any of these projects.
  • Dr. Huwaysh also recalled that, circa 2000, when Saddam found out that former nuclear workers in the IAEC were not being paid as well as those in the MIC, he met with Al-Janabi, initiated raises in their salaries, and instituted a bonus scheme.
  • A former MIC official stated that, in January 2002, Saddam issued an order requiring the MIC to cooperate with the IAEC and to implement projects in the areas of physics, machining, and electronics.

Saddam also began to take an increased interest in the welfare of former nuclear scientists in the MIC. Dr. Huwaysh stated that in 2000 Saddam began asking about the welfare of former PC-3 scientists within the MIC and referred to them as “my people.” Saddam, a former IAEC Chairman in the mid-1970s, reportedly made it clear that he cared greatly about the former nuclear program and began showing a renewed level of interest in it at this time.

Increased Funding and Publicity of IAEC Activities

In the last years before the war, the IAEC received increased publicity for its achievements and a larger budget, prompting many former PC-3 scientists to want to return to the IAEC from the MIC. This was partlydue to the perceived improvements in conditions and salary increases. More money also became available to the IAEC through direct funding by Saddam.

  • The former MIC Minister recalled the budget of the IAEC increasing in 2001/2002 and that Saddam overruled the Finance Minister’s opposition to the budget increase. The MIC Minister did not know by how much the budget increased.
  • A former IAEC scientist stated that the IAEC budget increased through the 1990s in line with standard inflation but then increased sharply beginning in 2000.

Infrastructure Improvements at the IAEC: The Modernization Project

New computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools sought for IAEC’s Tuwaitha workshop in what has come to be known as the Modernization Project were not subject to nuclear export controls and were reported as required by the UN’s Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (OMV) Regime.In 2001/2002, following meetings with Saddam, Al-Janabi and Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Sa’id embarked on a plan to improve the machine tools workshop at Tuwaitha and supply it with new machines—an activity that was not completed before the war.

  • Former MIC Minister Huwaysh recalled that in 2001, Al-Janabi and Dr. Sa’id approached him and requested support for a special project. He was not told the nature of the project but learned that it involved the procurement of very precise machines. Huwaysh, after consulting with Saddam, agreed with the understanding that the purchase would be conducted through MIC’s Al-Basha’ir Company.
  • Due to reluctance on the part of international dealers to sell to the IAEC, Al-Janabi used the MIC to purchase the machines to conceal the fact that the IAEC was buying the machines. Al-Janabi also recalled that the contract for the high-precision machines was between the Al-Badr Company and a Taiwanese supplier. The Deputy Director General for Engineering was responsible for machine selection. Sa’id assisted in the project because of his extensive experience within the IAEC and his good managerial abilities. Sa’id’s main role was to coordinate with the Finance Ministry to receive approval for the purchases and draw the hard currency from state funds when necessary.
  • Al-Janabi also stated that he approved the purchase of the machines as part of an initiative to modernize the IAEC. He believed the machines were more accurate than Iraq’s existing capability.
  • While there is no question that the IAEC pursued these machines, there are conflicts in the information regarding the actual purchasing agent, the Al-Badr Company or the Al-Basha’ir Company. ISG believes that it is most likely the specifications and order were made by the Al-Badr company, on behalf of the IAEC, and the order was placed through the Al-Basha’ir Company, which was the actual purchasing agent.

Dr. Huwaysh told ISG that, although he was not explicitly aware of what was being purchased, in his opinion the machines that the IAEC were buying were more accurate than those at any MIC owned companies and that the IAEC was supplying its workshop with high-precision machine tools. Furthermore, he stated the Modernization Project was classified to the extent that even he was not made aware of its details. This compartmentalization was evident at the top levels of the Regime, including Saddam, who personally verified that the MIC Minister was to assist the IAEC. However, none of the sources debriefed have been able to explain why the MIC Minister was excluded from the technical details of the project.

Modernization ProjectMachine Tools
Machine Type Model Country of Origin Cost (US $)
CNC Milling Machines 2 x MCV- 600E Taiwan 160,020
Surface smoothing 1 x KGC-84MSI Taiwan 83,717
Wire-Cutting Machine  1 x A300 Taiwan 155,228
 Spark Machine 1 x M50F Taiwan 86,427
CNC Milling Machines 2 x MCV-1200 Taiwan 225,000
CNC Copy Milling Machine 1 x VTC-1400 CTC Taiwan 395,000
Lathe Machine 1 x MT52S Taiwan 90,000
Lathe Machine 1 x MT52L Taiwan 95,000
Vertical Lathe Machine  1 x VL-12 Taiwan 268,926
Plasma-Cutting Machine 1 x 315A ROSSA Bulgaria 165,400
3D Measuring Tool 1 x 3D DEA10 Italy 115,000
 Sorting Machine 1 x MI-400 Unknown Unknown
 Lathe Machine TNC-30NL Unknown Unknown
Punching Machine  Unknown Taiwan 67,000
 Laser Pointed Drill Unknown Spain 67,000
  • Dr. Huwaysh’s assertion that the purchase of the machines was a secret program is puzzling, given that the machines were reported to the UN/IAEA and were thereby subject to inspection. Other sources have commented that it would have been impossible for Dr. Huwaysh not to know what was being procured because it was his organization doing the procurement and that the project may not have been classified. A high-level Iraqi scientist stated that these high-precision machines were installed at Tuwaitha, and information regarding the machines was provided to the UN and IAEA in the declaration given in December 2002.

In contrast, former IAEC employees directly responsible for the selection and installation of the machines told ISG that the machines the IAEC purchased were the same as those already operating at Badr and were not particularly high precision. The same former IAEC employees went on to suggest that the machines were, in fact, of poor quality, cheaply made, and were prone to break.

  • Former IAEC employees, Diya’ Jalil Husayn and Zuhair Al Yassiri, selected the machines based on generic workshop requirements. The majority of the machines were Asian in origin, and they were described as “cheap Taiwanese machines.”

ISG also received conflicting information regarding the specific use of the machine tools workshop beyond general machining capabilities.The former President of the IAEC described the procurement of the machines as the development of Iraq’s “nonnuclear scientific infrastructure.” The machines would enable the IAEC to create molds and manufacture specialty parts for machinery in-house rather than outsourcing the work.

  • A former IAEC employee with close ties to the project told ISG that the machines were to be used to manufacture equipment for use by the IAEC in R&D (primarily for the Physics Directorate) and were not to be used for the manufacture of items for outside organizations.
  • A senior executive in the MIC described how the Center for Mechanical Design was to receive the equipment, reverse-engineer it, and send it to the Badr, which would then produce high-precision tools from it.

Perceptions the Regime Was Preparing for Reconstitution of the Nuclear Program

Saddam’s increased interest in the IAEC and publicity of IAEC achievements, increased funding, and infrastructure improvements prompted Dr. Huwaysh to speculate that Saddam was interested in restarting a nuclear weapons program.

  • Dr. Huwaysh was suspicious this procurement was part of an attempt to restart the nuclear weapons program because both Janabi and Sa’id were part of the pre-1991 nuclear weapon program. He also was suspicious of Sa’id’s involvement because Sa’id was close to retirement. Furthermore, Dr. Huwaysh knew that high precision machines are needed to make centrifuges, although he admitted he only had the general notion of the capabilities of the machines.
  • Dr. Huwaysh believed these factors may have been an indication that by 2000 Saddam had run out of patience waiting for sanctions to end and wanted to renew the nuclear program, though he could offer no concrete evidence to support this view. Alternatively, Dr. Huwaysh speculated that Saddam may have had a small group of people advising him on nuclear power issues, although Dr. Huwaysh had never heard about it.

Alternatively, Al-Janabi says he approached the Presidential Secretary, ‘Abd Hamid Mahmud Al-Khatab, in late 2001 with a proposal to modernize the IAEC in order to develop Iraq’s nonnuclear scientific infrastructure. Khatab approved the idea and authorized the use of state funds through the Ministry of Finance. It was commonly understood that Khatab spoke for, and with the authority of, Saddam. As a result, Janabi began a broad effort to raise salaries and modernize departments, including procurement of the CNC machines.

  • Other interviewees also were consistent in suggesting the new equipment was needed to fix a degraded, or lost manufacturing capability at Tuwaitha. A former vice president of the IAEC stated that the purchase of these machines was not intended to modernize the IAEC’s manufacturing capability, but to re-create practical research capabilities.
  • A MIC scientist working at the IAEC glass workshop described the machine purchase as a means of improving the machines of the tool room workshop because the existing machines in 2001 were no longer functioning or not functioning properly.
  • Dr. Huwaysh also has quoted Saddam as saying “We do not intend or aspire to return to our previous programs to produce WMD, if the Security Council abides by its obligations . . . .”

IAEC Work on Neutron Generators

ISG has found no evidence of neutron generator or initiator research as part of a post-1991 nuclear weapons development program. Programs involving a French-supplied neutron generator are probably related to ongoing IAEC improvement efforts, which started by 2000.

  • In 1984, the IAEC acquired a large neutron generator from a French company. In 2002, targets were bought for the neutron generator from the German company Siemens because the United States would not sell to them. The generator has been used for research projects related to geology, food, and environmental studies. As of May 2003, some parts of the neutron generator had been looted. Iraq also had small Americium-Beryllium and Plutonium-Beryllium neutron sources.
  • Dr. Shaker Al-Jabouri, Director of the IAEC Nuclear Physics Department from 1992 to 2003, was in charge of the neutron generator at Tuwaitha as well as being a professor in the Department of Physics, University of Baghdad, from 1987 to 2003. He supervised numerous graduate students at the University of Baghdad whose theses included “Measurement of Neutron Activation Cross Section Using Neutron Angular Distribution Produced by 14 MeV Neutron Generator” and “Calculation and Measurement of Neutron Cross-Section for Energy Range 0.5 to 3 MeV.” These studies indicate Jabouri and the University of Baghdad remained involved in material cross-section work—a subject area with applications to civil radiological programs and nuclear weapons research.
  • According to translated Iraqi documents—specifically a 2002 memo from Jabouri—a neutron generator was used in his laboratory in several postgraduate nuclear activation projects. The projects included radiation effects on materials, development of control systems, design of a rotating target, design of a magnetic analyzer, and design of an ion source.
  • The IAEC/Physical Research and Materials Directorate/Nuclear Applications Section carried out various research activities using a neutron generator and related technologies. ISG has not been able to identify any neutron generator activities by this organization related to a nuclear weapons program.


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