Thursday, May 23, 2024

Review Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-991

Selbi, Dhafir, Al-Chalabi, Zuhair, Co-authored and edited by Dr. Khadduri, Imad, Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-991, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011


Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991 was written by three Iraqi scientists who worked on the country’s nuclear program. They were partly inspired by two other scientists who wrote books which the authors believed were full of misinformation aimed at supporting the U.S. claims about WMD. Their intent was to tell their truth of what Iraq did and didn’t do which of course was a huge topic of controversy before and after the 2003 invasion.


There are several highlights of the book. One was in 1985 when Saddam Hussein met with members of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission. One of the directors promised the Iraqi president a nuclear bomb by 1990. This shocked the other commission members because their work was all theoretical and they had not been consulted beforehand about making this pledge. The authors also think that the idea of a bomb helped lead to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait because Saddam thought he could rely upon a bomb to preserve his conquest.


Another point was that the world was largely ignorant of what Iraq was doing in the 1990s. For instance, the main nuclear facility outside Baghdad was bombed by chance towards the end of the Gulf War. It was then hit with B-52s not because the U.S. figured out its purpose but because it looked like other important Iraqi facilities. The lack intelligence by the United States showed how little the people knew about Iraq’s programs.


The nuclear scientists also wanted to disclose everything they did to U.N. inspectors after the Gulf War but Saddam’s son-in-law Hussein Kamel told them no. Instead he had all the papers and equipment turned over to the army which unsuccessfully tried to hide them. In one famous incident the military was trying to drive large pieces of equipment out of a place while inspectors were there only to be caught. This deception campaign was why inspectors, the Americans and others thought Iraq still had WMD. Later in the 90s Baghdad tried to come clean about what it did but was not believed in part because of all the lying it had done before.


Unrevealed Milestones makes for a very interesting read. The authors are obviously Iraqi patriots and were proud of their work. The major sense you get from their book is that they were very committed to their job but frustrated because the work was uncoordinated and Hussein Kamal interfered. A lot of the book goes through the nuts and bolts of the different techniques the Iraqis tried to enrich uranium which is not that interesting to the lay person. Surprisingly that doesn’t drag down the reading. It’s definitely worth checking out.


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