Derek Mitchell
A Timeline of the Tubes Case
Sun Aug 10 17:58:49 2003
64.140.158.159

A Timeline of the Tubes Case
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/wot/iraq/aluminum_tubes_iraq_centrifuge_uranium.html

1950s. The use of aluminum for rotors in centrifuges was discontinued. Other materials, such as maraging steel and carbon fiber, were used instead. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Early 1980s. At this time, an engineer name “Joe”, who later became a central figure in the Bush administration’s WMD scandal, worked in the gas centrifuge program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work pertained not to the actual centrifuges, but to the platforms upon which the centrifuges were installed. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Sometime after the early 1980s and before the end of the 1990s. “Joe” began working for the CIA. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

“By the end of the 1990s”. “Joe” began working in export controls at the CIA. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

2000. U.S. intelligence learned that Iraq was planning to purchase aluminum tubes from China through an Australian middleman. “Joe” was said to have played a significant part in this discovery. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

July 2001. A shipment to Iraq of 3,000 aluminum tubes was intercepted in Jordan [Washington Post, 8/10/03]. It was later learned that Iraq’s supply of rocket body casing tubes had been depleted at about this time and that “[t]housands of warheads, motors and fins were crated at the assembly lines [in Iraq], awaiting the arrival of tubes.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

July 2001 and later. “Joe” concluded that the aluminum tubes were meant to be used as rotors in centrifuges [Washington Post, 8/10/03]. Joe’s theory later became one of the most important components of the Bush administration’s argument that Saddam Hussein was pursuing the development of nuclear weapons [Washington Post, 8/10/03]. “Joe” later received an award for exceptional performance from the CIA for his analysis of the intercepted aluminum tubes. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

July 2001 and later. Almost immediately after Joe’s theory was circulated through U.S. intelligence and science circles, centrifuge physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other similar institutions expressed doubt that the tubes had been meant for centrifuges. They provided several reasons why. (1) The size of the tubes made them ill-suited to be used as rotors in a centrifuge. They had thick walls and were too long and narrow. (2) Since the 1950s, Aluminum was no longer used as rotors. (3) Iraq was known to have had the blueprints for a more efficient centrifuge, which used maraging steel and carbon fiber, not aluminum. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Late 2001. Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” reviewed the tube controversy and concluded that it was very unlikely that the tubes had been imported to be used for centrifuges. He told The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” He also said that other centrifuge experts whom he knew shared his assessment of the tubes. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

September 12, 2002. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, George Bush said: “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons . . . Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon.” [The Age (Australia), 6/7/03]

September 24, 2002. The British government released its now infamous dossier on Saddam’s unconventional weapons capabilities. In the section discussing Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program, the document noted: “[T]here is no definitive intelligence evidence that [the specialized aluminum] is destined for a nuclear program.” [British Government, 9/24/02]

Last week of September 2002. U.S. intelligence agencies completed a national intelligence estimate on Iraq, in which it was stated that the tubes had been meant for use in a centrifuge program. The decision in favor of Joe’s theory was the result of a 4-2 vote. The four votes in favor were cast by agencies specializing in electronic surveillance, maps, and foreign military forces. The U.S. Department of Energy, backed by its staff of nuclear physicists at Z Division at Livermore, disagreed with the theory. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence also chose not to support the claim. The final draft of the NIE stated that “most analysts” believed that the tubes had meant to be used as rotors in a centrifuge. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

October 9, 2002. David Albright, a physicist who investigated Iraq's nuclear weapons program following the 1991 Persian Gulf War as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team, concluded in a study that Iraq’s attempt to import the tubes was not “evidence that Iraq [was] in possession of, or close to possessing, nuclear weapons” or that Iraq had an operating centrifuge plant. His assessment was based on several factors, including the fact that the tubes were made of an aluminum alloy that was ill-suited for welding. He noted that Iraq had used maraging steel and carbon fiber in its earlier attempts to make centrifuges. Albright also challenged the CIA’s contention the tubes’ anodized coating was an indication that they were meant to be used for a centrifuge. The nuclear physicist noted that the fact that the tubes were anodized supported the theory that they were meant to be used in rockets, not a centrifuge. He cited another expert who had contended that an “anodized layer on the inside of the tube … can result in hampering the operation of the centrifuge.” [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] His report was widely known and was reported in detail by The Washington Post on October 19, 2002, as well as by several other newspapers. [Washington Post, 9/19/02; Guardian, 10/9/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]

Before October 19. Nuclear scientists working for the government who disagreed with the administration’s claim that the tubes were meant for a centrifuge program were instructed “to remain silent.” [Washington Post, 9/19/02; Guardian, 10/9/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]

December 2002. Experts from U.S. national laboratories informed the U.S. Department of Energy that Iraq was producing tubes identical to the Italian-made Medusa 81 rockets, which were of the same dimensions and made of the same alloy as the tubes that been intercepted on their way to Iraq in July 2001. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

January 9, 2003. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) submitted a report to the UN that concluded that Washington’s claim that the tubes were meant for a centrifuge was highly unlikely. In one section of the report, its authors wrote: “While the matter is still under investigation and further verification is foreseen, the IAEA's analysis to date indicates that the specifications of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq in 2001 and 2002 appear to be consistent with reverse engineering of rockets. While it would be possible to modify such tubes for the manufacture of centrifuges, they are not directly suitable for it.” [New York Times, 1/10/03; Reuters, 1/9/03; Independent, 1/10/03; Guardian, 1/10/03]

January 12, 2003. Time magazine published an interview with UN Chief Weapons inspector (IAEA) Elbaradei, who said: “I think it's difficult for Iraq to hide a complete nuclear-weapons program. They might be hiding some computer studies or R. and D. on one single centrifuge. These are not enough to make weapons. There were reports from different member states that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes for enrichment, that they were importing uranium from Africa. Our provisional conclusion is that these tubes were for rockets and not for centrifuges. They deny they have imported any uranium since 1991.” [Time, 1/12/02]

January 22, 2003. Joe, the CIA employee, traveled to Vienna, Austria, where he told IAEA nuclear scientists they were wrong in concluding that the tubes were not meant to be used as rotors in a centrifuge program. The thrust of his argument was that the tubes’ dimensions were overly precise and that it was made of a special aluminum alloy that was “excessively strong.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Around January 22, 2003. Sometime after Joe’s presentation to IAEA inspectors, U.S. analysts collected and photographed tubes in Iraq that were “virtually identical” to the Medusa tubes made in Italy, including a stamped logo of the rocket’s Italian manufacturer and the words, “81mm rocket”. This was reported by The Washington Post on January 24: “The quantity and specifications of the tubes -- narrow, silver cylinders measuring 81 millimeters in diameter and about a meter in length -- made them ill-suited to enrich uranium without extensive modification, the experts said. But they are a perfect fit for a well-documented 81mm conventional rocket program in place for two decades. Iraq imported the same aluminum tubes for rockets in the 1980s. The new tubes it tried to purchase actually bear an inscription that includes the word ‘rocket,’ according to one official who examined them.” [Washington Post, 1/24/03; Washington Post, 8/10/03]

Late February 2003. By this time, Iraq’s argument that the tubes had been meant for conventional rockets, not for a centrifuge, was considered by UN experts to be ‘air tight.’ [CBS News, 2/20/03; Mirror, 2/22/03]

February 5, 2003. In his presentation to the UN, Powell alleged that Iraq had intended to use the aluminum tubes for a centrifuge program and not for artillery rockets as experts from both the U.S. Energy Department and IAEA had argued. To support the administration’s case, he cited unusually precise specifications and high tolerances for heat and stress. He said, “It strikes me as quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds U.S. requirements for comparable rockets. Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so.” [Washington Post, 2/5/03g] Powell also contended that because the tubes were ‘anodized’ it was unlikely that they had been designed for conventional use. [Washington Post, 3/8/03] But this argument had been discredited earlier in an October 9, 2002 report by nuclear physicist David Albright. [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] Powell failed to mention that Iraq had rockets identical to the Italian Medusa 81 mm rockets, which were of the same dimensions and made of the same alloy as the 3,000 tubes that had been intercepted in July 2001. [Washington Post, 8/10/03] This had been reported just two weeks earlier in the Washington Post. [Washington Post, 1/24/03]

March 7, 2003. Chief Weapons Inspector ElBaredei told the UN Security Council: “Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81mm tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Reuters, 3/7/03]

B Summary of the Tubes Case
1 Evidence

a In July 2001, a shipment to Iraq of 3,000 aluminum tubes was intercepted in Jordan. [Washington Post, 8/10/03].


2 Criticisms

a The tubes were meant to be used for conventional rockets, not as rotors in a centrifuge

i Evidence supporting this

(A) Iraq’s supply of rocket body casing tubes had been depleted around July 2001. “… Thousands of warheads, motors and fins were crated at the assembly lines, awaiting the arrival of tubes.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

(B) The tubes were anodized. According to an expert cited by David Albright, a nuclear physicist, an “anodized layer on the inside of the tube … can result in hampering the operation of the centrifuge.” [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03]

(C) The size of the tubes made them ill-suited to be used as rotors in a centrifuge. They had thick walls and were too long and narrow. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

(D) Since the 1950s, Aluminum was no longer used for rotors. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

(E) Iraq was known to have had the blueprints for a more efficient centrifuge, which used maraging steel and carbon fiber, not aluminum. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

(F) Iraq was known to be producing tubes identical to the Italian-made Medusa 81 rockets, which were of the same dimensions and made of the same alloy as the tubes that had been intercepted on their way to Iraq in July 2001. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

(G) In late January 2003, U.S. analysts collected and photographed tubes in Iraq that were “virtually identical” to the Medusa tubes made in Italy, including a stamped logo of the rocket’s Italian manufacturer and the words, “81mm rocket”. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]



ii Most experts on centrifuges did not believe that the tubes were meant for a nuclear program

(A) David Albright, a physicist who investigated Iraq's nuclear weapons program following the 1991 Persian Gulf War as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection team. [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03]

(B) Chief Weapons Inspector ElBaredei. [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/03; Washington Post, 3/8/03; Associated Press, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; New York Times, 3/8/03; Reuters, 3/7/03; Time, 1/12/02]

(C) Nuclear scientists at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [New York Times, 1/10/03; Reuters, 1/9/03; Independent, 1/10/03; Guardian, 1/10/03]

(D) Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts”. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

(E) Centrifuge physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its sister institutions. [Washington Post, 8/10/03]
---------------------------------------------------

Statements by U.S. Officials asserting that Saddam Hussein
had weapons of mass destruction
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/wot/iraq/quotes_asserting_iraq_had_weapons_of_mass_destruction.html

Powell's Feb. 5 Presentation to the UN
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/wot/iraq/colin_powell_february_5_presentation_to_the_un.html

Other indications that the Bush administration had
no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction
http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/wot/iraq/other_indications_that_bush_administration_had_no_evidence.html

Derek Mitchell
The Center for Cooperative Research


Main Page - Tuesday, 08/12/03

Message Board by American Patriot Friends Network [APFN]

APFN MESSAGEBOARD ARCHIVES

messageboard.gif (4314 bytes)