Procurement: October 11, 2002

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Iraqi agents managed to buy several shipments of weapons through brokers in the small German town of Pfozheim. The shipments include machineguns, rocket launchers, spare parts for MiG fighters, and milling machines designed to manufacture howitzer barrels. The equipment was sent to Jordan and never seen again. Several people have been arrested by German customs officials. US intelligence says that the Iraqi clandestine weapons purchase program is extensive and world wide. Without UN inspectors to notice newly arrived weapons, and with more and more revenue from illegal oil sales, Saddam's weapons buying spree involves dozens of brokers and agents and tens of millions of dollars. Over 100 companies operating in Jordan and Turkey are known to be agents of the Iraqi government; in many cases an illegal shipment will be sold back and forth among several such companies (on paper) to foil anyone trying to trace the shipments, while the actual weapons move steadily across the Iraqi border on trucks. British intelligence has tracked numerous purchases (and attempted purchases) of equipment needed for a centrifugal uranium enrichment system. Based on the number of items purchased, the Iraqi program far exceeds the Manhattan project and is trying to build the capability to produce a number of nuclear weapons in a short time. Such purchases include vacuum pumps, magnets of special types, quantities of fluorine gas, and very specialized machines for winding and balancing electrical filaments. In the past, most smuggling went through Jordan and Turkey, but in the last year most of the traffic has shifted to Syria, which has completed a railroad to Baghdad and an oil pipeline to Iraqi oil fields. Syria has received more than $1 billion worth of Iraqi oil, none of it through UN "oil for food" controls, this year alone.--Stephen V Cole



 


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