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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Center
al-Aseel / al-Diyalla Facility

The Iraqi nuclear weapons effort, which was directed from the PC-3 headquarters received raw uranium for processing from mines at Ukashat. Seven facilities were promiment in the calutron enrichment program. Four of these facilities, al-Jesira, al-Atheer and al-Rabbiyah and al-Dijjla at Zafaraniyah, had not been identified by American intelligence as being associated with the nuclear weapons program and consequently escaped any significant damage from coalition airstrikes during the Gulf War. The three other facilities -- Tuwaitha, Tarmiya, and al-Fajar -- were previoiusly identified by American intelligence as being associated with the nuclear weapons program and suffered extensive damage during the War. Baghdad was operating approximately 25 calutron units; 20 at Tarmiya where uranium was enriched to 35%, and 5 at Tuwaitha where enrichment levels of approximately 95% were achieved. Another program for the production of uranium under the Petrochemical-3 project used gas centrifuge enrichment, with two facilities at Al Furat and Rashidiya, and a third under construction at Taji.

As of 2002, the only known store of nuclear material in Iraq is in heavyweight sealed barrels at the Tawaitha research facility south of Baghdad. It consists of several tons of low-grade uranium and is monitored by an international agency with the full co-operation of the Iraqi regime.

Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, located 18 km SSE of Baghdad, was the main site for Iraqi nuclear program. Tuwaitha is the location of the Osiraq reactor bombed by Israel in 1981. The Al Asil General Establishment at Al Tuweitha was the headquarters of the Iraqi Nuclear Commission. Activities included several research reactors, plutonium separation and waste processing, uranium metallurgy, neutron initiator development and work on number of methods of uranium enrichment. The Pure Lead Project at Al Tuweitha was engaged in the development of shielding for the nuclear weapons program.

At a location immediately outside Tuwaitha parts for the enrichment program were reportedly stored. Also outside Tuwaitha is a facility where magnetic coils and insulators were manufactured. Neither of these facilities were bombed during the Gulf War. Facility 416, the storage and warehouse area at Tuwaitha, was not at all damaged during the Gulf War. Facility 405 at Tuwaitha, operated by the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) and the basis for the 411 Program ( the al-Tarmiya enrichment facility), was probably totally destroyed. [GulfLINK]

Experiments on enrichment were conducted in the Laboratory Workshop Building (LWB). Operations in this building focused on the enrichment of uranium work included experiments with centrifuge, electromagnetic separator, and laser separation experiments. Also in this building was a group working on chemical processes using acetone. The "hot laboratories" were located in the lama building. [GulfLINK]

All nuclear fuel at this site was removed under IAEA monitoring. Equipment directly tied to the nuclear weapons program was destroyed in place.

In April 1991, Iraq's inventory of safeguarded highly enriched uranium included 35.58 kilograms of U235 which had been irradiated but could not be readily used in weapons production since the fissile material would have been difficult to extract quickly from the irradiated fuel. This material was held at two storage locations: a fuel pond, which contained the reactor core and fuel storage racks; and an emergency storage where fueld from the Tammuz-2 reactor core and associated pond had been transferred during the Gulf War. This emergency storage, designated "location B", consisted of pits in a farmland area a few miles from the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Center. [IAEA April 1992 ]

During the Gulf War the allied forces bombing of Iraqi facilities inflicted a maximum of 20 percent damage on the Iraqi nuclear weapons development program. Most of the damage occurred in two facilities--the headquarters (HQ) of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, called the Tuwaitha or al-Diyalla facility, located on the southeastern edge of Baghdad, and the al-Safaa uranium enrichment factory located north of Baghdad. Allied forces bombing inflicted a great amount of damage on Tuwaitha; however, most of the facilities destroyed belonged to the Iraqi Nuclear Power Commission or were administrative facilities. The reactor building and a small test reactor, which remained from the time that Osirak was built both were destroyed. One production unit was damaged. This unit processed spent nuclear fuel and contained two hot cells for this purpose. Bombing of this unit caused some nuclear contamination. Because of the contamination, Tuwaitha was closed for two days after the bombing. The nuclear reactor building was damaged. The reactor inside the building was shut down before the gulf war. [GulfLINK]

The Al Tuwaitha nuclear center was extensively equipped with "hot cells" for dealing with radioactive material, although many were severely damaged during bombing. However, concern remained about possible reconstruction and future use of the undamaged cells. Therefore, during the seventh inspection, these cells were rendered harmless by cutting off the manipulator arms and control wires. Associated glove boxes were rendered useless by pouring cement into them. As a long-term measure, epoxy resin was used along with cement to render harmless the mixers-settlers. The seventh and eighth IAEA inspections revealed special equipment essential to the nuclear weaponization programme for warhead development and assembly as distinct from nuclear material production. Two special video cameras ("streak cameras") were removed from Iraq and other equipment was sealed pending decisions on removal, destruction or monitoring. [IAEA April 1992 ]

Following the 1991 Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency removed all known Iraqi stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 687. As of 2002 the only positively confirmed nuclear material left in Iraq is 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and several tons of natural and depleted uranium. The material is in a locked storage site at the Tuwaitha nuclear research facility near Baghdad. Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this stock of material is checked once a year by an IAEA team. The most recent check was in January 2002, and none of the material had been tampered with at that time.

A significant event marking the return to normalcy for the Iraqi people occurred 07 October 2003. Authority of a site was transferred back to the people of Iraq. Coalition forces transferred authority of the former Al Thawath Nuclear Research facility to the Iraqi Ministerial Guard. The Ministerial Guard will oversee the security and integrity of the facility. Two formations, one comprised of the Iraqi Ministerial Guard and the other of soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, marched from opposite ends of the ceremony area toward each other and came to a stop five feet before they would have met. Guest speaker, Dr. Rashad Omar, the Iraqi minister of science and technology, said the day was monu-mental. "Today marks the first change-of-command ceremony between Iraqis and the coalition," he said. "This place was a place of much concern and controversy. We will use it for new and better circum-stances." The prior regime used the Al Thawath Nuclear Research Facility as a weapons research and development site. "The Americans did well to give back this facility to the Iraqi people," said Hady Bouhy, one of the 412 guards assigned to the 23,000-acre complex. "It shows great progress."

By June 2004 Iraqi authorities had begun rebuilding facilities at the Tuwaitha research center once used by Saddam Hussein to pursue nuclear-weapons ambitions. The reconstruction under way at Tuwaitha, despite its potential for generating controversy, was no secret. The effort involved cleaning out, repairing, painting, and refurnishing office and laboratory buildings at the site. The intention is to create space to house research and development efforts by Iraq's newly reconstituted Ministry of Science and Technology. Those research efforts will focus on agriculture, water, petrochemical and other projects. The cost of reconstruction was estimated at about 30-million dollars. The Coalition Provisional Authority is not financing the rebuilding.It is being paid for by the Development Fund for Iraq, established by the United Nations. The United States has been a major donor to the fund and it is managed by the Coalition Provisional Authority. While it is unclear whether Iraqi scientists will be able to conduct nuclear research at Tuwaitha again, there has been radioactive contamination at the site and radioactive materials once stored there are missing.

Source: Oct. 8, 2002, DoD Briefing on Iraqi Denial and Deception

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:44:57 ZULU