Iraqi Radiological Weapons Program Detailed

Article excerpt

An Iraqi government report detailing Baghdad's efforts to build a radiological weapon was made public at the end of April by the private Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. A radiological weapon does not involve a nuclear explosion but simply dispenses radioactive isotopes with conventional explosives.

Although the existence of Iraq's radiological weapons program has been recognized for some time, the 1987 Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency report, which was turned over to the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) after the Persian Gulf War, provides details of Baghdad's attempt to build and test a radiological weapon that were not previously available to the public. The Wisconsin Project obtained the report from an unnamed UN source and gave it to The New York Times, which reported on its contents April 29.

Iraq developed and reportedly tested a radiological bomb in late 1987 to achieve a means of "area denial" during the final stages of the Iran-Iraq War. According to a December 1995 UNSCOM report-and confirmed by the leaked document-Iraqi scientists tested three prototype weapons. UNSCOM reported that the Iraqis characterized the test results as "disappointing" because most of the radioactive material did not disperse in a militarily useful way. …