Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Panorama Magazine: Iraq's Nuclear Centrifuges

Back in October, I posted the translation of three-part series by Bonini and D'Avanzo published in La Repubblica on the Nigergate scandal. In Part III, Nigergate: The Great Nuclear Centrifuge Scam, the authors discuss a September 12, 2002, article in the Berlusconi-owned magazine, Panorama, exposing alleged evidence of Saddam's trafficking in yellowcake and uranium enrichment equipment. I've finally gotten around to translating it.

The fantastically outrageous assertions, claimed to be corroborated by the CIA by reporter Pino Buongiorno, testify to a corrupt international press propaganda operation to deceive the public, in which unethical NY Times reporter Judith Miller participated. I call it, Marshalling the Crude Lies.

La guerra? è cominciata. The war on Iraq has begun, by Pino Buongiorno, September 12, 2002. [Note: I had to pull this from the archives of Panorama--site registration required. The link may not work.]

After coming to find out that Baghdad had been successful in obtaining a half-ton of uranium, the United States has begun the countdown. More than 30 thousand men are ready to go into action in the Gulf region and another 150 thouand troops are on alert. Specialized brigades have already received the order to prepare to strike at Saddam Hussein.

They knew but there was nothing they could do. Or rather, they did not intervene in time. This is how CIA agents explain, with some embarrassment, the recent coup by Iraqi agents on the international weapons trafficking market. In CIA parlance, it was “classic triangulation”, so timely and perfect as to push the Bush Administration to speed up preparations for a settling of accounts with Saddam Hussein.

At stake was a half-ton of uranium. Agents of Mukhabarat, the Iraqi secret service, purchased it in cash through a Jordanian intermediary in far-off Nigeria, where arms smugglers had transported it after having carried out a heist of a nuclear storage facility in a former Soviet republic.

The 500 kilograms of uranium was shipped to Amman and from there transported overland, after 7 hours of travel time, to its final destination: a facility 20 km north of Baghdad called al-Rashidiyah, known for the production and processing of fissile material. Although this transpired a month ago, CIA officials in Amman are at a loss to explain how Iraqi agents were able to carry out such a caper right under their noses.

Beset by yet another failure, George Tenet, director of the U.S. spy agency in Langley, has decided to reinforce the CIA contingent in Jordan and has dispatched the Clandestine Operations Division’s the best agents with lengthy experience in the Arab world. He has also alerted allied secret services that another operation, like that in Nigeria, could take place within the next few weeks.

Specifically, the alert concerns Germany, where in the past Iraq has attempted to purchase, for example from Leycochem, civilian technology and industrial components which could be easily converted to military use, as well that the much sought-after aluminum tubes for gas centrifuges.

But the alert also includes Italy, targeted for purchase of cutting edge agricultural equipment which Saddam Hussein’s scientists could transform into weapons of mass destruction. [Bwa-ha-ha-ha. Whew, what a whopper!--Nur]

There is no doubt, especially during the last few years, that the Baghdad dictator has accelerated his weapons programs to build a ground-to-air missile defense system and a fiber-optic communications system linking the various military installations and command centers in order to construct new chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. This has been confirmed to German, British and American intelligence by the most recent Iraqi defectors, such as nuclear scientist Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who sought asylum in the United States in 2001 via Bangkok. According to al-Haideri, beginning in December 1998, when the UN weapons inspectors were ordered out of the country, Iraq has reactivated 300 weapons labs.

Furthermore, Saddam has ordered nuclear production facilities and uranium storage depots to be secreted inside hospitals and residences. Other weaponry is hidden in subterranean bunkers which appear to be wells. Finally, according to this Iraqi scientist, crack Republican Guard outfits have made ready installations, which today are empty, where secret projects could be easily moved should their sites be revealed or bombed.

Another Iraqi physicist, Khidir Hamza, who was about to become the father of the Iraqi atomic bomb, testified before US Congress last July that “Iraq is in the final stages of its uranium enrichment program.” Hamza added that the German secret service “with which I am in contact, believes that Iraq has dozens of tons of uranium, enough to build three atomic bombs by 2005.”

Satellite photos have provided further worrisome evidence. In August, for example, seventy or so trucks have been observed near the Taji military base, near the Iraqi capital, know for the production of biological weapons. Last spring, another column of heavy equipment was photographed while unloading steel tubes in Fallujah, detected as a chemical weapons production center. More recently, a commercial satellite photo taken last week has shown that new structures had been built near nuclear weapons facilities, such as that at Tuwaitha.


Blogger Ryan said...

It's like Colin Powell's UN presentation on steroids!

I bet that a great deal of what's in this article appeared in PDBs throughout 2002.

"Missioned Accomplished!" as the kids are saying these days.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Hi Ryan...can you believe the lies that "reporters" get paid to print? Time Magazine has been at this sort of thing for decades, but at least the lies are refined! Nowadays, the bigger the transparent lie, the better!

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Wordie said...

Hi! I've been reading your blog for some time now. Just wanted to express my appreciation for your work in translating so many documents crucial to our understanding of the Nigergate story. I've posted portions in some of the discussion forums that I frequent, and directed readers here, to your blog, for the rest of the translations. I'll be doing the same with this article.

(Just wanted to point out a small typo - check the date on the article to which these comments are connected. It looks like you typed 2005 when you meant 2002.)

Thanks for your good work. I'll keep checking back frequently.

8:08 AM  
Blogger The Liberal Avenger said...

Happy to see you back.

5:50 PM  

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