Iraq: March 8, 2001



Reports are emerging that Iraq may be closer to building a nuclear weapon than anyone has previously thought. According to these reports, Iraq was able to buy the mechanisms for gun-type bombs (without uranium) from the Russians, perhaps in the late 80s, perhaps in the early 90s. While there is no evidence to support the story (which could have been fabricated to get money from media outlets that published it), it would be easier to get the working parts for a bomb out of Russia if no uranium was involved. The parts could have been stolen or bought either before uranium was installed or after it had been removed in post-Cold War disarmament moves. US efforts to prevent renegade or criminal Russians from selling bombs have focused on the fissionable materials. One report, with an unusual amount of detail, insists that Iraq detonated a 10 kiloton nuclear bomb in a cavern under Lake Rezzaza at 10:30am on 19  September 1989. The test reportedly included a Russian-built bomb device and 20kg of enriched uranium bought from South Africa by way of Brazil. This report cannot be confirmed.--Stephen V Cole


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