''Saddam's bombmaker' is full of lies''
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
By Imad Khadduri
YellowTimes.org Guest Columnist (
(YellowTimes.org) – The book "Saddam's Bombmaker," recently published by Khidhir Hamza, recounted the author's 22 years of experience with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC). Hamza exaggerated to a great extent his own role in the nuclear weapon program. As I personally know the author and have worked with him during these two decades, I wish to clarify the following untruths and misinformation that has been postulated by him in his book.
There is a huge difference between those who worked
with the government for scientific and professional reasons despite being under
the sharp sword of government security agencies, and those who try to hide
their fear with a fig leaf. A few scientists who believed in their work
realized the slippery road they were treading and tried to leave before and
after the 1991 Gulf War. While some were able to flee
But when the bells of fear first started to ring in Hamza's mind in 1974, when he prepared the first nuclear weapons project report at the request of the government, he decided to stay in Iraq until it was convenient for him to go abroad. In the '70s and '80s, it would have been much easier and less risky to leave, yet he wallowed in
Even though he was the head of the physics department in the nuclear research center for ten years during the seventies, his deep inner fear of radiation prevented him from ever entering the reactor hall or touching any scientific gadgets, probably due to his continual fear of an electric jolt that he experienced as a child, as his book mentions.
Hamza's aversion to
scientific experimentation drove him to insist on working solely on the highly
theoretical three-body-problem during the seventies, far removed from any of
the initial work on fission that was carried on during that period at the
At the end of the seventies, he completely refused to
take any responsibility in the Iraqi purchased French research reactor, and
left that task to the great Egyptian scientist, Dr. Yehya
El Meshad, who was assassinated by the Israeli Mossad in
After he again withdrew from any leadership
responsibility for the nuclear weapon project which started in earnest in 1980
in direct response to the Israeli attack on the OSIRAK reactor, leaving it to
In the mid eighties, Hamza was asked by Hussain Kamil to write a report on the progress of the weapon program to present to the government. In response to this report, the whole program was put under the control and guidance of Hussain Kamil himself in 1987. The pace of work accelerated immensely until 1991. However, during that time, the "bombmaker" was kicked out of the program at the end of 1987 for stealing a few air conditioning units from the building assigned to his project. This he conveniently omitted to mention in his book, but cited frequent travels abroad to garner assistance and equipment, while in fact he was an outcast to the project and did not attend any seminar or brainstorming sessions during that intense period.
The "bombmaker" did make a great deal in his book of his role in building the Al Atheer weapon manufacturing center during the late eighties, while in fact he was going in circles doing nothing at the Tuwaitha Research Center, as a mere has-been, and did not even have an office space in Al Atheer. He was, in fact, assigned the peripheral job of writing a report on the American Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) project and spent his time collecting whatever information was available in the library from newspapers and scientific journals. He spent all his time during these critical years in the library and, in 1989, was made a sort of consultant, still loosely attached to the IAEA, but also taught at a university two days a week, far removed from any bomb making.
In addition, he was thoroughly annoyed and bitter
regarding the rejection by the CIA of his appeal for them to take him, through
the auspices of the Iraqi National Congress representative in the north of
Iraq, where he fled alone, leaving his family behind, in 1994. He pathetically
thought that the CIA was not aware of his miniscule role in the bomb making,
especially after the weapon program's scientific report fell in the hands of
the IAEA inspectors in 1991. He claimed to be the container of secrets while in
fact he was only regurgitating them. Worse than that, he claims in his book
that the CIA, in 1995, fabricated a story published in an English newspaper of
his submitting a report on the supposed continued Iraqi nuclear program just to
ferret him out of his hiding place. Being a teacher at that time in a
The extent of his fear climaxed when the Iraqi
government sent his son to
I can only recall the image of "the bombmaker" straggling for two decades during the seventies, eighties and early nineties with his tail between his legs, looking over his shoulders and running to whomever gave him a piece of bone with some meat on it, to then suddenly springing from his cocoon at the end of the nineties as a Don Quixote with an American mask. Brandishing his wooden sword in the small arena afforded to him by the CIA, he counted on the silence of his colleagues, either out of fear of the Iraqi security agencies or the blind cruelty of the American ones, to not expose his phony claims in his book, which may be rendered as a repayment to the CIA for their services to him. His appearances on the weekly American talk shows are truly a reflection of his present allegiances.
The reader might question the motive of my writing on this sensitive subject and the personal tack apparent in it. All I can say is that even if silence is gold, then not speaking out at this time against such fallacies is a stigma of cowards.
[Imad Khadduri has a MSc in
Physics from the
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