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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report

 

University Programs

Universities played a supporting role to preserve Iraq’s nuclear knowledge base. While ISG has found no information that universities supported any pursuit of nuclear weapons, ISG did find that universities offered a haven for some former PC-3 personnel and dual-use equipment after Operation Desert Storm and were being reestablished as a source of knowledgeable support for the IAEC and MIC after 1999.

ISG found that Iraqi educational institutions accepted equipment salvaged from the pre-1991 program, but we are unable to show that universities played a role in any renewed Iraqi nuclear weapons effort. The following are examples of instances where Iraqi institutions received equipment from the former nuclear weapons program:

  • Tuwaitha. Iraq admitted that educational institutions that received equipment from Tuwaitha for storage and/or incorporation include Teachers Training Institute, Institute of Technology in Zaafaraniya (student dormitories in Al-Waziriya), University of Baghdad (dormitories in Jadiriah), and the College of Physical Education.
  • Tarmiya. Iraq also declared that educational institutions that received equipment from Tarmiya—such as general laboratory devises and spare vacuum system parts—for storage and/or incorporation include University of Mustansiriya, University of Baghdad (College of Science), Saddam University (College of Science), and the Institute of Technology (Department of Chemical Industries).
  • Al Atheer. The Al Karama secondary school and Al-Anwar primary school received equipment evacuated from Al Atheer around February 1991, according to Iraq’s declarations. Similarly, some equipment not associated with any NPT violation was transferred to Saddam University and the University of Technology. According to Iraq’s declarations, the Babil University also received an unidentified number of boxes of unidentified equipment—allegedly most of which contained damaged and mixed components from the former nuclear weapons program at al Atheer.
  • Rashdiya. The University of Baghdad also received equipment and materials from the former centrifuge program.

In the early 1990s Iraqi nuclear program personnel found temporary homes in educational institutions—moves that occasionally involved shifting of groups of scientists from the former weapons program. University programs offered a means to preserve the existing knowledge base by providing an opportunity for former PC-3 personnel to pass on their basic, fundamental knowledge to new generations of scientists.

  • According to one high-level scientist, workers at PC-3 sites were instructed to remove materials, equipment, and documents from their workplace prior to the UN inspections in May 1991. The laboratory from the Tarmiya EMIS uranium enrichment site was used to outfit a laboratory at the University of Baghdad College of Education (Adhamiya district) where research on Freeman ion sources was continued. Other researchers at Tarmiya also built a vacuum system laboratory at Baghdad University (Jadriya district).
  • Another high-level scientist confirmed that staff from PC-3 projects at Tuwaitha received the same instructions. As a result, Dr. Qais Abdul Hamin established Electronics Laboratories and Departments for Power Electronics, Instrumentation, and Distribution Control at the Technical University in Baghdad with equipment and staff from PC-3. A laboratory was established at the University of Baghdad led by Dr. Hamid Al Mundiri and staffed by PC-3 materials scientists. A Surface Inspection and Measurement Laboratory was established at the University of Baghdad led by Dr. Nabil Ramu.
  • Documentary information collected by ISG indicates that Dr. Saadi Ja’far Hasan left Al Atheer in June 1991 and transferred equipment to Saddam University. Ja’far taught atomic physics, nuclear physics, nuclear spectroscopy, and advanced physics. The equipment was used to establish an atomic physics lab for second year students, a preliminary lab for undergraduates/third-year students, and a more advanced lab for fourth-year students.

Through the 1990s, educational institutions shared some personnel with MIC and the IAEC—activities that seem to be motivated most by the need for former weapons program officials to find new employment, but steps that inherently preserved access to scientific knowledge and capabilities from the pre-1991 program. Officials have indicated that former PC-3 scientists were unhappy with MIC employment, dissatisfied with IAEC pay, and used the universities as a way to supplement pay and create more interest in their work.

  • According to Huwaysh, most PC-3 personnel were kept in the MIC after 1991. However, some nuclear physicists went to the universities because there was no nuclear work for them in the MIC.
  • Al-Janabi stated that “most IAEC researchers also taught at universities or advised doctoral students, both for scientific and financial reasons.” However, there was no placement program to place IAEC scientists into university positions. Each scientist had to find a university position on his own and was permitted to work only one day a week at the university. Al-Janabi also stated that the IAEC provided approximately one million dinars per year to universities for research and that, during the universities’ summer break, many faculty members worked at the IAEC or the MIC to make additional money.
  • According to Dr. Nafi ‘Abd Al-Latif Tilfah, Dean of Baghdad University’s Institute for Laser and Plasma Studies, post-1991 laser research was conducted at the Baghdad University Institute for Laser and Plasma Studies, the Baghdad University of Technology, Mustansiriyah University, and the al-Razi Company. While most of the research was paid for by the universities and the Ministry of Higher Education, the Al-Razi Company—which was subordinate to the MIC— also financed some postgraduate research projects. A number of key scientists from the pre-1991 laser uranium enrichment effort—including the head of that effort, Dr. Faleh Hamza—worked at Al-Razi after the 1991 war.

Reporting indicates the relationship between the universities and the MIC and IAEC was relatively ad hoc until the late 1990s, until efforts were made to send MIC and IAEC projects to the universities. With Saddam’s support, MIC and IAEC dramatically increased joint university activities. The influx of funds would not only bolster a deteriorating university system but would also tend to focus university programs on MIC and IAEC issues. The result would be a new generation of scientists with a focus and understanding of MIC and IAEC pursuits.

  • According to Huwaysh, cooperation between the MIC and Iraqi universities was largely a formality prior to 1999. Huwaysh claims that in 1999, he called a meeting of all Iraqi university heads to discuss the loss of professors to higher-paying industry jobs, which was crippling the university system. As a result of the meeting, he approved all professors to perform research for up to four MIC contracts each. Saddam liked his initiative so much that in late 1999 he ordered each of the ministries, including the IAEC, to implement a similar program of sending research projects to the universities. As a result, MIC-sponsored research projects in Iraqi universities jumped from approximately 40 in 1997 to approximately 3,200 in 2002.
  • According to Iraqi declarations, the Institute for Training and Employee Development in the IAEC’s Scientific Policies and Programs Department is described as providing a variety of coordination activities with universities. This includes both the opportunities for scientists to take advantage of university activities as well as the opportunity for university personnel to support IAEC facilities.

The historical relationship between former PC-3 scientists and Iraqi universities suggests that some nuclear-weapons-related research could have taken place within the universities, although ISG has uncovered no direct information that such work was under way. A number of highly placed individuals in the former Regime have stated that no nuclear-weapons-related research took place at universities. However, some research activities display obvious dual-use application to nuclear weapons development.

  • Laser Research. Baghdad University’s Institute for Laser and Plasma Studies researched and developed many types of lasers, including Copper-Vapor Lasers (CVL) as recently as 2002. This research was done in conjunction with al-Razi, with the stated purpose of research and development in laser targeting systems and directed energy weapons. CVL technology is relevant to Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS) as well as many civil applications, and at least one of the researchers involved in this project was Dr. Faleh Hamza. ISG believes that this work does not indicate a reconstitution of a laser isotope separation program but offers an opportunity to preserve CVL knowledge and capabilities that could support future reconstitution. ISG has also uncovered reporting that indicates there was a prohibition of continuing nuclear weapons work including laser isotope separation.
  • Tarmiya Equipment. ISG interviews of a high-level Iraqi official indicate that equipment from the PC-3 EMIS facility at Tarmiya was moved to Baghdad University after the 1991 war and prior to the start of intrusive inspections. At the university, studies reportedly were done in Freeman ion sources, and the Tarmiya employees built a vacuum system at the university. This work—while relevant to EMIS technologies—does not indicate a reconstitution of such a program, but offers an opportunity to preserve knowledge and capabilities that could have supported future reconstitution.
  • Other Examples. A group of PC-3 materials scientists set up and staffed a laboratory at the University of Baghdad with equipment from Group 2FE. The laboratory was led by Dr. Hamid Al Mundiri. A surface inspection and measurement laboratory was also set up at the University of Baghdad and was led by Dr. Nabil Ramu. This laboratory later worked on stealth technology. Alternately, the head of PC-3 Group 2E attempted to set up a programmable logic control laboratory at the technical University of Baghdad, but the university refused to accept the laboratory because of the risk of being discovered by IAEA inspectors. All of these examples represent maintenance of knowledge and capabilities, but ISG has found no evidence that the laboratories continued work in support of a nuclear weapons program after 1991.

 



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