Iraq Reported Closer Than Thought To Having Nuclear Bomb
LONDON (AP) _ Two German scientists who visited Iraq say President Saddam Hussein has acquired enough Western technology to produce a nuclear bomb in 1991 or 1992, the Sunday Times reported.
The newspaper quoted scientists Bruno Stemmler and Walter Busse as saying Iraqi scientists had built a factory northwest of Baghdad for producing nuclear centrifuges, which are essential for making weapons-grade uranium.
The scientists said the Iraqis also had built a uranium-enrichment laboratory in the southern outskirts of the capital.
Stemmler visited Iraq in the fall of 1987 and he and Busse went there together in the summer of 1988, the report said. Both were then employed by MAN Technologie of the former West Germany and were in Iraq to advise on its nuclear program.
Based on the information, the newspaper said Iraq could have nuclear capability next year or the year after, at least three years sooner than Western intelligence agencies had previously thought.
″Even if Saddam were to withdraw his forces from Kuwait, his nuclear capability will shortly pose a deadly serious threat to stability in the region,″ the report said.
The Sunday Times said technology for the two plants was provided ″by at least a dozen Western companies″ which filled orders from Iraqi firms that were cover operations for securing nuclear weapons know-how.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency failed to discover the existence of the laboratory when its representatives visited Iraq last month, the report said.