Mar 7, 2014
Here We WMD Again: Iraq and the Mythical Pakistani Package
Posted on Mar 30, 2010
By Scott Ritter
About the same time that the IAEA coordinated with Israeli intelligence on the seizure of centrifuge parts in Jordan, UNSCOM was engaged in a similar activity, only this time involving ballistic missile components acquired in Russia and shipped via Jordan into Iraq. In July 1995, I had begun a sensitive intelligence-based cooperation, on behalf of UNSCOM, with Israel. One of the principal issues being investigated was that of Iraqi concealment of weapons of mass destruction from UNSCOM and the IAEA. While the original focus was on material in the possession of Iraq prior to 1991, in November 1995 Israel provided UNSCOM with timely information about an ongoing Iraqi effort to procure ballistic missile parts. Using this information, UNSCOM was able to coordinate with the Jordanian government and seize these missile parts 24 hours before they were scheduled to be shipped on to Iraq. As the lead investigator for UNSCOM on this matter, I was given the additional task of looking into ongoing covert procurement activity by Iraq.
By the spring of 1996, this investigation had uncovered a wealth of information, in the form of documents and through interviews with involved personnel. This information pointed to a clear link between the needs of Iraqi industry (in this case, that which was associated with missile production) and the Mukhabarat, which oversaw the various mechanisms associated with procurement, including the creation and vetting of front companies, the placement of Iraqi and non-Iraqi personnel as commercial representatives, and the use of commercial attachés assigned to overseas embassies as couriers for money and information. Because this procurement activity was believed to be relevant to all involved proscribed weapons activities, and not simply ballistic missiles, the decision was made to approach the IAEA for the purpose of engaging in a coordinated effort to tackle the issue of covert procurement. I was tasked with heading this effort.
In November 1996, I flew to Vienna and met with Maurizio Zifferero at the IAEA headquarters. Zifferero agreed that this was a matter of importance for both the IAEA and UNSCOM, and that a joint investigation would be a prudent action. As a first step, we agreed to an exchange of information. In that exchange I provided a briefing, accompanied by a detailed point paper, on the work and findings of UNSCOM to date, and Zifferero did the same, turning over documents and allowing me to meet with his lead investigators on the issue of covert procurement by Iraq in support of a nuclear bomb, including the matter of the unsolicited Pakistani offer.
Our cooperation began in earnest immediately thereafter. In December 1996, I served as the co-chief inspector for an interview-based inspection. We grilled the senior Iraqi nuclear leadership, including Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar, the erstwhile “father” of the Iraqi nuclear bomb, and his major department heads. The Iraqis were taken aback by the intrusion of UNSCOM, especially by a non-nuclear “specialist” such as me, into what they viewed as sacred territory. But the IAEA stood firm on its commitment to carry out a joint investigation, and the Iraqi objections were brushed aside. In the spring of 1997, there were more joint interview missions, as well as individual efforts by both UNSCOM and the IAEA, the results of which were closely coordinated.
In the end, UNSCOM and the IAEA were able to get to the bottom of the issue of covert procurement carried out by the Iraqi Mukhabarat on behalf of military industry and Iraq’s nuclear program. After initially denying that there had been any link between the Mukhabarat and procurement efforts for either military industry or the Iraqi nuclear program, the Iraqis finally came clean. At the heart of this effort was an entity known as the Technical Consultation Co., or TCC. TCC was located on the second floor of a posh seven-story building in the heart of the upscale Mansur district of Baghdad, a few blocks from the main Mukhabarat headquarters complex. TCC was inspected by a joint UNSCOM/IAEA team (I served as the chief inspector for UNSCOM) on Oct. 2, 1997.
TCC was subordinated to Mukhabarat Directorate M-19, which was responsible for covert procurement activity, including the establishment of commercial fronts for developing human intelligence sources, as well as placing Iraqi agents under commercial cover. TCC served as a procurement front for M-19, which serviced the procurement needs of not only the Mukhabarat but the Iraqi government as a whole, including PC-3. M-19 was itself subordinated to Directorate M-4, the Iraqi clandestine service. UNSCOM inspected M-19 in June of 1997.
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