Third Party & Independents Archives

Iraq Threat was Exaggerated

“[I]t would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges. It stretches the imagination to come up with a way. I do not know any real centrifuge experts that feel differently.” Said by Houston G. Wood III in late 2001, an alumnus of Oak Ridge, and founder of the Oak Ridge centrifuge physics department. Experts like Wood were sidelined and ignored during the build-up to the Iraq War. They argue that the facts were egregiously manipulated and played on public ignorance instead of relying on scientific reality.

In the Oak Ridge world of science, facts are paramount to speculation, hypothesis and conjecturing. So when an engineer-turned-CIA analyst reported that the tubes were "overspecified," "inappropriate" and "excessively strong", the speculation was that Saddam would not waste money using the tubes for rockets and would reserve them for nuclear application. Expectedly, the experts blinked.

They contend that CIA analysts ignored facts. Facts such as the existence of an Italian designed rocket called the Medusa 81 that Iraq was copying, and within a fraction of a millimeter, matched the disputed aluminum tubes. Or, that the tubes were too narrow, long and thick-walled to fit a known centrifuge design. And that aluminum had not been used for rotors since the 1950s. And Iraq already had more up-to-date centrifuge blueprints (but not the means to reproduce them) that were stolen from Europe. Their designs used a hard steel alloy for rotors and carbon fiber which would have been just as difficult to import or produce.

Posted by Stephen VanDyke at August 10, 2003 5:05 PM