Sherrie Gossett is associate editor for Accuracy in Media and a contributing reporter for WorldNetDaily. Her original news stories have been widely cited by the press, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Herald, Agence France-Presse, London Times, Fox News and Inside Edition. She is based in Washington, D.C. More ↓Less ↑
The debriefing of Iraqi defector Hussein Kamal, the text of which was obtained by WorldNetDaily, provides compelling insight into Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, as well as the nation’s plans for enhancing the development of biological and chemical weapons.
On Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell used the defection of Kamal, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, as a key event that prompted Iraq to finally admit to some of its previously undisclosed weapons programs. Powell told U.N. delegates that Iraq “never had any intention of complying” with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 to disarm.
The debriefing documents, from UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, are labeled “SENSITIVE” and record discussions with Kamal about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. The discussion occurred in Amman, Jordan, in 1995.
The documents describe Iraq as still possessing and hiding blueprints, microfiches and computer disks with plans for missile and nuclear weapons programs. While Kamal states that most all of Iraq’s WMD had been destroyed at that time, there are questions from U.N. staffers as to the lack of evidence of such destruction, and Kamal admits that blueprints were kept as a first step to “return to production.” Kamal is questioned on Iraq’s keeping of some elements of its missile program and chemical weapons program. He also is questioned on a mysterious reference to a nuclear “final experiment,” found by U.N. officials in Iraqi documents.
In addition, the documents mention the involvement of individuals and/or companies from Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the Ukraine in the maintenance and development of Iraqi weapons programs.
Despite being credited by U.N. officials with having a “legendary” memory, at key junctures Kamal says that he does not remember certain details.
The debriefing was attended by Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, the executive chairman of the Special Commission (UNSCOM), professor M. Zifferero (IAEA), N. Smidovich (UNSCOM), and a person from the King of Jordan court, Col. Ali Shukei, who served as an interpreter. The documents indicate the meeting began at 19:50 hours and lasted approximately three hours.
Binary VX program
During Powell’s U.N. presentation, he stated that the Iraqi regime had lied repeatedly regarding its weapons programs, saying that it took Iraq years to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent VX.
Powell said, “The admission only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein’s late son-in-law.”
Regarding Iraq’s VX program, the documents indicate that the Iraqis “finished work on binary that had a long shelf life.”
Kamal states they were able to stabilize VX: “They were able to do it by splitting VX into binary. Bombs consisted of two parts, and they made it during the last days of the Iran-Iraq war. So the components were only mixed when fired.”
A former senior Iraqi air force officer who has defected made a similar allegation recently. The officer reported that Saddam Hussein’s air force has developed a sophisticated delivery, explaining that bombs were divided in two by an internal partition. The binary design is to allow lethal chemicals to be mixed in bombs moments before detonation for maximum effect.
Kamal stated that the VX bombs were not used during the Iran-Iraq war and “the program was terminated.” He added, “During the Gulf War, there was no intention to use chemical weapons as the Allied force was overwhelming.”
When questioned whether Iraq restarted VX production after the Iraq-Iran war, Kamal answered, “We changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine. … We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons. I don’t remember the resumption of any chemical weapon production before the Gulf War. Maybe it was only minimal production and filling. But there was no decision to use chemical weapons for fear of retaliation. They realized that if chemical weapons were used, retaliation would be nuclear. They must have a revision of decision to start production. All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear – were destroyed.”
Regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons program in general, Kamal said, “Some of the chemical components came from the U.S. to Iraq.”
He added, “There was a German middleman involved in the Iraqi CW [chemical weapons] program. Now he is an Iraqi citizen. He is of Jordanian origin. … I think he was sent to Iraq to do work by foreign power.”
Tabun and sarin
The document records Kamal referring to Iraq’s quest for chemical weapons with a long shelf life: “At the beginning, they worked with one Egyptian scientist to make mustard gas. Then they proceeded to sarin, then VX, then binary. Sarin had a short shelf life; mustard gas has longer effect but is not as potent as sarin.”
Iraq adopted the “binary” method of weaponization for sarin as well, in which the components of sarin gas are stored separately until use, when they are mixed.
The components of sarin are DF 2 and the alcohols cyclohexanol and isoproponal. Since Iraq manufactured DF 2 with a purity of 95 percent and imported alcohols of 100 percent purity, experts state that the detonation of its munitions could be expected to yield relatively pure sarin.
Iraq first told UNSCOM that it had produced an estimated 250 tons of tabun and 812 tons of sarin. In 1995, however, Iraq changed these estimates and stated that it had produced only 210 tons of tabun and 790 tons of sarin. For this reason, it is still uncertain how much tabun and sarin Iraq actually manufactured.
Similary, Iraq initially told UNSCOM that it had produced 3,080 tons of mustard gas, but in 1995 the regime reduced that figure to 2,850 tons. UNSCOM reported Iraq’s mustard gas to be at least 80 percent pure and determined that it could be stored for long periods of time, both in bulk and in weaponized form. Experts state that in its distilled form, mustard gas has a long life, can be stockpiled for decades, and is relatively easy to produce and load into munitions. Iraq admitted filling approximately 550 artillery shells with mustard gas but says it misplaced them shortly after the Gulf War.
After UNSCOM inspectors left Iraq in December 1998, U.S.-led forces bombed sites believed to be chemical weapon plants. After the bombings, reports surfaced indicating that Iraq rebuilt many of the sites and that they appeared to be operating.
The Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS, reports, “It is reasonable to infer that Iraq has resumed its production of chemical weapons and is adding new elements to the portion of its previous stockpile that has never been accounted for.”
The Kamal documents also record discussion of Iraq’s production of Ebola, stating that “it was filled on bombs coated with fiberglass.” Kamal admits that research was performed “on the Ebola virus and hemorrhagic fevers” but that “the main focus was on anthrax, and a lot of studies were done.”
Ebola virus first emerged in 1976 in two major outbreaks that occurred almost simultaneously in Zaire and Sudan. Over 500 cases were reported, with mortality rates of 88 percent in Zaire and 53 percent in Sudan.
Following incubation periods of four to 16 days, the onset of symptoms is sudden, marked by fever, chills, headache and myalgia. The signs are soon followed by nausea, vomiting, sore throat, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Death occurs between days seven and 16, usually from shock, with or without severe blood loss.
Regarding biological weapons, Kamal states that Hakam was the location where bulk agents were produced: “They have chosen that site away from the population. Most work was done at Dora on anthrax.”
However, Kamal stated that “there was an island in England and they tested anthrax there.”
Ambassador Ekeus states in one passage: “We know that they weaponized agents in airbombs in December 1990.” Kamal responds, “Yes, it was done at Muthanna. All agents were put in bombs with fiberglass.”
The Muthanna State Establishment was located 120 kilometers northwest of Baghdad. It was there that researchers investigated anthrax, botulinum toxin, aflatoxin and ricin.
Another site listed for production of biological weapons was Fudaliyah, where, Kamal explained, “they used epoxy resin, not fiberglass.”
Kamal states that Iraq succeeded in producing plant pathogens, a project begun after the Iran-Iraq war. But he denies they were successful in producing agents to poison water: “They also had a similar agent to poison water, but they had not succeeded.”
The following passage referred to the purported destruction of such weapons:
Smidovich: Were weapons and agents destroyed?
Kamal: Nothing remained.
Smidovich: Was it before or after inspections started?
Kamal: After visits of inspection teams. You have an important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq. There was an engine for long-range missiles. I didn’t want to get involved. It was a lost battle, and they chose to stop … using this.
Smidovich: We could not find any traces of destruction.
Kamal: Yes, it was done before you came in. The place where they buried them was found by you.
Is Iraq still producing chemical weapons? According to scientists at ISIS, “U.N. officials have previously conducted more than 150 inspections at 86 sites, but have said that much of the documentation Iraq has provided to prove otherwise is incomplete or does not make sense.”
Nuke program: Concealment strategy
The Kamal documents refer to Iraq’s “concealment strategy” as regards their nuclear weapons program. In reference to Iraq admitting to a centrifuge project but refusing to disclose the Rashdiyah site where the centrifuges had been developed, the U.N.’s Zifferero asked, “Why did they insist in concealing Rashdiyah and claim that this project was at Tuwaitha? Why were they hiding?”
“It was the strategy to hide, not to reveal the sites,” answers Kamal. “They said that to divert attention.”
The motivation for bringing two sites into near simultaneous operation was thought to be a strategic tactic, facilitating concealment. If one were to be identified and destroyed the other might remain undetected.
At the time of the debriefing, Kamal states there was no continuation of or present nuclear activities, but adds, “but blueprints are still there on microfiches.”
Kamal also states: “Difficulties were caused by compressors. But we got some compressors from the U.S.”
The main aim of the nuclear program, he said, was delivery “by aircraft or missile.”
Nuclear ‘final experiment’ – test or combat use?
During the debriefing, Zifferero sought to qualify what was meant by a referral to a nuclear “final experiment.” That reference was found in Iraqi documents obtained by the U.N.
He states, “We are aware that they were planning to dig a shaft vertically and then horizontally to create a chamber to test a device. … They surveyed many areas in the desert particularly in the southwest desert, in areas less populated.”
Zifferero says, “I want to understand whether the Iraqi document’s reference to ‘final experiment’ was the reference to a test or to combat use.”
Says Kamal, “These were only studies. They had highly enriched uranium from France, but it was under the IAEA safeguards. They also tried to make their own. All the time they worked to make it smaller but had never reached a point close to testing.”
Zifferero responds: “If it were only studies, conceptual work, it is hard to understand why millions of dollars were invested in facilities to produce enriched uranium in a range of tens of kilograms.”
Regarding the “final experiment” reference, Notra Trulock III, former director of intelligence for the Department of Energy in the Clinton administration, told WND, “[I]t sounds like a reference to the crash program started by the Iraqis just before [the Gulf War] to produce a warhead using diverted enriched uranium. Whether they would have had enough to do a test and then still have any left over for a real warhead, I don’t know. The IAEA standards are about 20 kilograms of EU for a warhead, and doing experiments to reduce those requirements make sense, especially for Iraq who seems to have had great difficulties producing fissile material.”
He added, ” I don’t recall anything that indicated they were close to a test; the long pole in the tent was always fissile material. … But I was always prepared to be surprised if and when we ever got in to take a real look at what they had.”
The missile program
Kamal also discussed Iraq’s acquisition of 819 missiles and 11 launchers from the Soviet Union, saying there were “not a single missile left, but they had blueprints and molds for production. All missiles were destroyed.”
Kamal indicated launchers from Russia and Yemen were hidden by the special forces.
“The Russian missile was extremely accurate, and they want to produce them in Iraq because we have only Luna and SCUD missiles,” he said. “They want to produce such missiles in Iraq, and they studied gyroscopes for pinpoint accuracy. Now they are working with Ukraine to modify gyroscopes.”
Kamal continued, “They also ordered gyroscopes from the United Kingdom. Are you aware of this?”
The U.N.’s Smidovich is noted as saying, “The Special Commission was aware that the gyroscope parts were ordered through Mr. Aws Hassan and his company, Cimarron. These parts were to be manufactured by different British companies but primarily at Norcroft.”
It was later reported that between 1988 and 1991, a UK trading firm run by an Iraqi-born Briton in West London, transferred to Iraq $9.5 million dollars worth of guidance systems designed and manufactured for Scud missiles. Two dozen British firms were involved in the manufacturing of the components, including Norcroft Dynamics, Nokes Foundry and Pipco. Norcroft was provided with a Soviet Scud missile manual by the London-based trading company. All the firms denied they knew Iraq was the final destination of their parts.
The transfers made prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 were shipped though the UK Heathrow airport directly to Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, which was run by Kamal. The transfers violated UK controls on trade in missile technology.
After August of 1990, missile gyroscope parts were transported by truck from the UK to Vienna, Austria, before being sent to Iraq via Jordan. The same Iraqi-born Briton had created a shipping company in Austria for that purpose. To avoid U.N. trade sanctions in Iraq, the shipments were marked as dental equipment.
In 1996, U.N. officials reported that companies from France, Germany and Eastern Europe “continue to supply Iraq with proscribed military items.”
Hidden computer disks contained nuclear info
Referring to the Scud launchers, Kamal states, “These two launchers are with the Special Guards. They are hidden in the same location where computer disks with information on nuclear programs are. If you find the one, you will find the other. It is difficult to pinpoint a specific location. President Saddam’s son, Qusay, knew where they are. Also Gen. Mustafa knows. He was with the Special Guards, and now he is with the Republican Guard.”
Smidovich asked why they had decided to keep the launchers while all the missiles had been destroyed. “It is the first step to return to production,” Kamal responded. “All blueprints for missiles are in a safe place – those for Al Hussein or longer range.”
Chinese design behind long-range missile
When asked whether he was referring to the Abadil 100 missile with a range of 150 kilometers, Kamal explained, “Dr. Modher also worked on a motor design for a missile with a range of 3,000 kilometers. He had blueprints.”
Kamal described the missile as “a single stage with a very big engine. It was a vertical launch. They also did some studies on cruise missiles after the war. You know, some U.S. cruise missiles landed intact, so they studied them.”
Kamal also was asked about Chinese involvement in the 3,000 kilometer missile.
“It was only design,” he responded. “There was a Czech professor who worked with Modher on this. He worked before the war. … They had only blueprints, nothing as implemented. After engines they needed to work on gyros, fuel and launchers. But fuel was not a problem. It was easy to make both liquid and solid. They succeeded in manufacturing solid propellants in a new way. They succeeded in giving more power to solid propellant.”
Kamal then reiterated, “The two launchers are at the same location as the computer disks. Both Mudif Ubeidi and Modher have a lot of information on microfiches. People who work in MIC were asked to take documents to their houses. I think you will have a new war of searches.”
‘Saddam’s bombmaker’ a ‘professional liar’?
In one exchange in the document, Kamal is asked about a document linked to Khidir Hamza, commonly referred to in the West as “Saddam’s Bombmaker.” Hamza played a very public role in his recent congressional testimony on Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.
Zifferero: This is my last question. (At this moment, Zifferero showed the general a document.) This document was claim (sic) to be sent to you, minister, by one of the members of the special committee.
Kamal: It is a false document.
Zifferero: We are of the same conclusion.
Kamal: It is full of mistakes. The author has no knowledge. The first phrase in the letter is wrong. The data (in the upper right hand corner) is wrong. It is not correct.
Zifferero: It is a fake document.
Kamal: It is not the work of Iraqi intelligence, but some other. Possibly Egyptian. How did you receive this document and who signed it?
Zifferero: It was received by fax, and we have only the first page. It was received in April ’95.
Kamal: They would never have written to me such details.
Zifferero: Dr. Khidir Abdul Abbas Hamza is related to this document.
Kamal: We call this person Hazem. He is dark, tall, bigger than me. He is a professional liar. He worked with us, but he was useless and was always looking for promotions. He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. Yes, his original name is Khidir, but we called him Hazem. He went to Baghdad University then left Iraq. He is very bad. He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go. He used to work in the building opposite the Rasheed Hotel. It was a design center.
Albright cooperated actively with the IAEA Action Team from 1992 until 1997, focusing on analyses of Iraqi documents and past procurement activities. In June 1996, he was the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. On this inspection mission, Albright questioned members of Iraq’s former uranium-enrichment programs about their statements in Iraq’s draft Full, Final, and Complete Declaration. Hamza worked for ISIS for two years.
Last year, Albright told Australia’s Lateline, “I must apologize that we no longer can in any way recommend Dr. Hamza. I unfortunately now believe he is deliberately distorting both his past credentials and his statements about Iraqi nuclear capabilities then and now.”
Albright said, “I believe that his statements are often inaccurate, they’re inconsistent,” adding, “I think he’s distorted his title dramatically.” Albright attributed the purported exaggerations to “pressure on defectors.” It is also commonly believed that some jostling for position occurs among defectors angling for maximum influence and benefits.
Hamza recently appeared in a U.S. congressional hearing and testified that Iraq was perhaps two to three years from building a successful nuclear bomb. Albright disagrees with the estimate, finding the Blair dossier estimate of five years to be more realistic. But even so, Albright says, “I think personally that it’s too long of an estimate. My own estimate would be shorter.”
“Hamza was no liar,” Trulock told WND. “He revealed the depth to which the Iraqis and others use the IAEA as cover for espionage and intelligence collection at the labs.”
Sections of Trulock’s new book, “Code Name Kindred Spirit: Inside the Chinese Nuclear Espionage Scandal,” detail how the IEAE was used for nuclear-weapons espionage.
The Kamal document concludes with a statement referring to solidarity between the Iraqi state and the Palestinian movement:
“The current government will never change. Otherwise, I would not leave. … Still no changes for Iraq: poorer and suffering. They are only interested in themselves and not worried about economics or political state of the country. … In 1948, there was a war between Israel on one side and Palestine and Arab countries on the other. Even now, the regime continue [sic] to end all statements with a slogan ‘Long Live Palestine.’ … It is most important to be stable and not to go to war with its neighbors. It is this kind of policy that is putting Iraq back in the Stone Age. Nothing forbids good relations between Iraq and the U.S.A. Iraq needs it – for stability, for Iraq. …
“The government of Iraq is instigating fundamentalism in the country. This is of concern for Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait. It is against Europe and the U.S. Now Baath Party members have to pass a religious exam. … Every party member has to pass a religious exam. They even stop party meetings for prayers.”
After returning to Iraq in 1996, Kamal was reportedly murdered at Saddam Hussein’s order.