May 21, 2013
Here We WMD Again: Iraq and the Mythical Pakistani Package
Posted on Mar 30, 2010
By Scott Ritter
The principal document of concern cited by The Washington Post was a communication from an entity known as “15B” to an entity called “15S.” The document, classified “Top Secret and Personal,” reads as follows:
There is a handwritten note scribbled at the bottom of this document, stating the following:
“Mr. Undersecretary, I bring this to your attention and would propose that, with assurance from the Mukhabarat that the person making the offer will not disseminate information and that the offer is not a ‘sting’ operation, the Mukhabarat should be asked to arrange for the person to provide samples relating to point 1 of the offer to assess ‘their’ real capabilities, despite indications that the Mukhabarat does not see the need for this precaution. ...”
A few words were missing from the handwritten note because the lower left corner of the sheet of paper it was written on was torn off.
Attached to this memorandum was a single sheet of paper, in English, titled “Project A.B,” which contained the following information:
These two documents, together with the other procurement documents contained in both the file and the optical disc, were studied in detail by a special team from the IAEA that submitted its findings to the IAEA team leader, Maurizio Zifferero, in November 1996. The initial analysis of the IAEA concerning the documents in question noted that “there exists some circumstantial evidence that make it impossible to exclude that the offer was not genuine,” including the fact that A.Q. Khan, in 1990, had the “technical possibility to provide the kind of services outlined in the offer.”
The IAEA also noted that there was a middleman with a Dubai office, as referred to in the documents, with a known connection to Khan and Pakistan’s nuclear program. This middleman had a possible connection with a small Swiss company that had assisted Iraq in procuring material used in a uranium centrifuge cascade. The IAEA had, in 1995, informed the Jordanian government about the Swiss-origin material having arrived in Jordan en route to Iraq. The material was seized by Jordan and later inventoried by the IAEA.
The tip-off on this operation came from Israeli intelligence and helped solidify Israeli-IAEA cooperation, which extended into the matter of Mukhabarat procurement in support of Iraq’s nuclear program. The IAEA provided Israeli intelligence, through the Israeli ambassador in Vienna, with copies of the relevant procurement documents. The Israeli Military Intelligence, or Aman, formed a special team of analysts who studied the IAEA documents and prepared a paper titled “Involvement of the Mukhabarat in Procurement for the Nuclear Project,” which was handed over to the IAEA in early 1997. The Israelis, after having reviewed not only the two documents cited by David Albright but also the entire IAEA file, concluded that “from the partial correspondence we have on this subject it may be assumed that the directors of PC3 had their reservations [about the Pakistani offer] as they feared some sort of deception.”
Despite the skepticism that existed in both the IAEA and Israel over the conclusive nature of the evidence pointing to a possible Pakistani offer of assistance to Iraq, the IAEA, ever vigilant, did not close the case. Instead, noting that the entity “15S” had recommended to the “Undersecretary” that they ask “15B” to approach the Pakistani source for samples relating to the Pakistani’s offer to provide a detailed design and blueprint of a nuclear weapon, the IAEA zeroed in on other documents. These indicated that the Iraqis had conducted specific tests associated with “flyer plates,” a characteristic associated with a levitated-pit design known to be favored by the Pakistanis, as opposed to the more conventional solid-pack, uranium-based implosion design the Iraqis were focused on. Because the Pakistani offer was received in October 1990, and the flyer-plate experiments were planned for December 1990-January 1991, the IAEA believed that the experiments might be linked to new design information Iraq may have received from Pakistan. From the IAEA perspective, the Pakistani offer, as of 1996, was very much an issue worthy of continued investigation.
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