The Independent on Sunday (UK)
20 April 2003
Fake documents and exaggeration
By Sheelagh Doyle
President Bush said satellite photographs show Iraq rebuilding facilities at
sites that were part of its nuclear programme in the past, so "the threat is
real" of continuing nuclear activities.
Satellite photos were believed to be of Iraq's former nuclear complex at
Tuwaitha. The IAEA, which repeatedly inspected the site, said Tuwaitha "now
conducts civilian research in the non-nuclear field".
The British Government said that if Iraq obtained fissile material and other
essential components from foreign sources, "Iraq could produce a nuclear
weapon in between one and two years".
The claim seemed accurate. However, controls on fissile material and the
presence of international experts inside Iraq meant the risk of Iraq
developing a nuclear device was very low.
Britain said Iraq sought "significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The
US identified the source as Niger.
The IAEA concluded documents on which UK/US claims were based were fake.
Britain and US warned several times that Iraq had made repeated attempts to
import 60,000 specialised aluminium tubes and other equipment used to enrich
uranium for nuclear weapons.
The IAEA finds "no indication" that Iraq tried to import the tubes for use in
The US said Iraq had continued to rebuild and expand facilities that could be
quickly diverted to chemical weapons production, such as chlorine and phenol
Iraq's chemical site at Al-Qaqaa was bombed in the first Gulf War, and
remaining stocks were removed and destroyed by the UN experts. There was no
indication that its production of chlorine and phenol had a military purpose.
Secretary of State Colin Powell released satellite shots of a weapons factory
at Taji purporting to show that the site had been cleaned up before the
arrival of UN inspectors.
The chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said the photos could show routine
movement at the plant.
US releases picture of a drone which, if fitted with a spray tank, could
"deliver biological agents" to Iraq's neighbours or even the US if
transported to other countries.
Iraq dismantled a drone following its discovery by UN inspectors – who were
not convinced the unmanned aircraft was a proscribed item.
Mr Powell said "we know from Iraq's past admissions" that it has successfully
The UN inspectors said a single test was carried out in November 1990, but it
was considered a failure and the project was abandoned.
Mr Powell said Saddam had the "wherewithal to develop smallpox".
UN inspectors did not consider smallpox to be a matter of concern and did not
mention it except to report that there was "no evidence" of Iraq engaging in