Post-Inspection Iraq: 1998-2002
Iraq does not currently have nuclear weapons, but there is concern that Iraq has been attempting to reconstitute its nuclear weapon program. The October 2002 CIA evaluation of Iraq points to Iraq's attempts to procure thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes that could potentially be used to produce centrifuges capable of enriching uranium.
Because the IAEA inspections significantly damaged Iraq's capability to enrich Uranium, the CIA believes that it is highly unlikely that Iraq could produce enough High-Enriched Uranium for a bomb before the latter part of this decade. If, however, they were able to acquire fissile material abroad, it is likely that they retain the technical know-how to assemble a nuclear bomb. The International Institute of Strategic Studies concluded that Iraq could assemble a nuclear weapon within months of acquiring fissile material abroad.
The findings of the IAEA as to the status of the Iraqi weapons program after December 16, 1998 are that:
- There were no indications that Iraq successfully produced nuclear weapons.
- Iraq was either successful or on the verge of being successful at discovering how to enrich Uranium and make an explosive package for use in a nuclear weapon.
- Iraq was not able to produce more than a few grams of weapons-grade fissile material through its own enrichment programs, far too little for a nuclear weapon.
- There was no indication that Iraq had acquired any nuclear-weapons material abroad.
- There was no evidence that Iraq maintained any capabilities to produce nuclear weapons material of any practical significance.
In addition to Iraq's attempts to acquire aluminum tubes, the CIA also points to Iraq's refusal to provide key documents on its nuclear weapons program as a major concern.
Sources and Resources
- October 4, 2002 CIA estimate of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction:
The CIA's assessment of Iraq's Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Ballistic Missile, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Capabilities.
- IISS Net assessment of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, September 9, 2002:
The International Institute of Strategic Studies' analysis of Iraq's current WMD capabilities.
- Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction -- Assessment of the British Government, September 24,2002:
The Dossier compiled by British Intelligence on Iraq's WMD programs.
- IAEA Fact sheet: Iraq's Nuclear Weapons Programme
A summary of the actions taken by the IAEA, the types of materials found and destroyed, and an assessment of Iraq's nuclear program.
- A Decade of Deception and Defiance:
White House Background Paper for President George W. Bush's speech to the United Nation's General Assembly, September 12, 2002.
Maintained by the Strategic Security Project
Updated Wednesday, October 30, 2002