Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda

Article excerpt

SADDAM'S BOMBMAKER: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda, Khidhir Hamza with Jeff Stein, Scribner, New York, 2000, 352 pages, $14.00. In 1994, Khidhir Hamza was smuggled out of Iraq by a Kurd. He sought refuge with the Iraqi opposition based in that region. Ahmad al-Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, put Hamza in touch with U.S. intelligence experts to whom he revealed Iraq's intricate plans for constructing a nuclear bomb.

Hamza's book offers valuable insight into Saddam Hussein's cravings to possess nuclear capabilities. Hussein, whose push to gain a nuclear weapon was driven initially by the Iran-Iraq War and his desire for an equalizer by which to deal with Iranian human-wave attacks, has spent large amounts of money on this long-term project. His desire evolved into an obsession to acquire weapons of mass destruction, possession of which would allow him to usurp the mantle of Arab national causes from moderate states like Egypt and to counter the Israelis.

Hamza's highly narrative style focuses mainly on his relationship with Hussein's inner circle, the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, and key figures within the Iraqi WMD program. He takes readers into an erratic world where Hussein controls scientists and advisers using the carrot-and-stick approach. Hamza also gives glimpses of clandestine operations designed to lure Baghdad into pursuing behind-- closed-doors bargaining for fissile material. Such tactics often led the Iraqis to invest in useless projects. Hamza also witnessed the Israeli attack on the Osirak Nuclear Plant in 1981, and he discusses the partial destruction of Iraq's WMD program during Operation Desert Storm. …