Why does the same story keep coming up again and again? And if the Bushies are so sure it's incorrect, why doesn't any empirical evidence ever disprove it?
As Dack at the Rational Enquirer pointed out a couple of days ago, citing this Washington Post story and this AP story, Mahdi Shukur Obeidi, the Iraqi scientist who had the blueprint and centrifuge parts buried in his backyard, says the Iraqi nuclear program was suspended back in (all together now, class) 1991. Now, certainly this could be a lie everyone was supposed to tell, but if so, where's the evidence that points in another direction?
Jacques Baute, a nuclear scientist for the International Atomic Energy Agency, is quoted in the Washington Post story. According to Baute, what was buried in that backyard was woefully inadequate if Saddam wanted to restart his nuke program -- and would have been even in the unlikely event that Saddam managed to get Iraq's pariah-nation status changed:
Baute, in the interview Friday, pointed out that once U.N. economic sanctions were ended, after inspectors certified Baghdad's weapons work had ceased, the Security Council was to have imposed an Ongoing Monitoring and Verification regime on Iraq - controls short-circuited by the U.S.-British invasion.
Inspectors, with unhindered access under U.N. resolutions, would have kept close watch on Iraq's military-industrial complex, aided by air and water sampling technology, satellite and aerial surveillance, and monitoring of Iraq's imports.
An enrichment plant, a vast array of thousands of centrifuges, would have been easily detected, said Baute, who once helped build French nuclear bombs.
"To have turned it into a full-blown enrichment program while OMV was in place would have been virtually impossible," he said of the Obeidi equipment.
Although U.S. officials have not shared their Obeidi data with the IAEA, Baute's experts closely examined available photos of the components and found they included one critical part, the bottom bearing assembly.
But other vital elements apparently are lacking, Baute said, including the advanced carbon-fiber rotor, the spinning tube in which uranium gas is separated.
"It is far, far from being a complete set," he said.
He also noted the Iraqis would have had to expose themselves by searching for foreign manufacturers to duplicate complex components.
As for Obeidi's documents, they appear to be copies of centrifuge drawings and papers seized by IAEA inspectors in 1995, Baute said.
"These Iraqi drawings seem to contain mistakes," he said. German engineers who secretly assisted the centrifuge program apparently didn't leave their hosts finished designs, and the Iraqis erred at times in filling in gaps.
Oh, and as the AP story notes, Obeidi says the now-notorious aluminum tubes Iraq purchased weren't for nuclear bomb production. Go to the Rational Enquirer story for a nice list of who dismisses the tubes as possible "smoking guns" (e.g., the State Department) and who (a much shorter list) doesn't. Recall The New Republic's widely read article "The First Casualty":
The tubes' thick walls and particular diameter made them a poor fit for uranium enrichment, even after modification. That determination ... came from weeks of interviews with "the nation's experts on the subject, ... they're the ones that have the labs, like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where people really know the science and technology of enriching uranium."