Nuclear Missiles Found in Iraq?

Michele Catalano cites several reports that they have. Several false alarms have been sounded previously, of course, so this could turn out to be another.

UPI – Nuclear arms reportedly found in Iraq (also at Interest Alert)

Iraqi security reportedly discovered three missiles carrying nuclear heads concealed in a concrete trench northwest of Baghdad, official sources said Wednesday. The official daily al-Sabah quoted the sources as saying the missiles were discovered in trenches near the city of Tikrit, the hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. “The three missiles were discovered by chance when the Iraqi security forces captured former Baath party official Khoder al-Douri who revealed during interrogation the location of the missiles saying they carried nuclear heads,” the sources said. They pointed out that the missiles were actually discovered in the trenches lying under six meters of concrete and designed in a way to unable sophisticated sensors from discovering nuclear radiation.

The sources said al-Douri, who is related to former Vice Chairman of the Iraq Revolution Council and Saddam’s right-hand man Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, was captured after Iraqi police intercepted an e-mail message in which he set a meeting with another former Baath official.

The report could not be authenticated by the interior ministry or the national security department, but the paper noted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zibari made a surprise request recently to Mohammed el-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to resume inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Reuters – Iraq Interior Ministry Says Report on Nukes ‘Stupid’ (also here)

Iraq’s Interior Ministry dismissed as “stupid” a report in a local newspaper on Wednesday that said three nuclear missiles had been found near the town of Tikrit. A senior U.S. military official told reporters he had no information on the report in the newspaper al-Sabah. He said officials were checking the report. Asked by Reuters about the report, a spokesman at the Interior Ministry said: “It’s stupid.”

AP – New Report to Back Up Iraq WMD Claims

An upcoming report will contain “a good deal of new information” backing up the Bush administration’s contention that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass destruction, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said Tuesday. The administration cited Saddam’s hunger for such weapons as a main reason to invade Iraq last year. “I’m not suggesting dramatic discoveries,” Warner told reporters, but “bits and pieces that Saddam Hussein was clearly defying” international restrictions, “and he and his government had a continuing interest in maintaining the potential to shift to production of various types of weapons of mass destruction in a short period of time.”

The report is by the civilian head of the Iraq Survey Group (search), Charles Duelfer, who reports to the CIA director. Initially the report was expected to be done this summer, but instead it will come out in September, Warner said. Warner said the new information covers “some weapons that predate the first Gulf War that are still around and were used at the time Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Iranians” as well as “remnants of what he was doing himself here in the last several years.” He would not elaborate, saying he didn’t want to pre-empt the report.

Update (1004): The story is not currently showing up on GoogleNews or YahooNews, although the Reuters denial story is.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. carpeicthus says:

    Well this would be freaking huge, but if it is true, we’ll be getting confirmation very soon. In fact, I’d expect it to have happened already, so I’m also skeptical.

  2. Herb Ely says:

    It would be huge. Let’s assume that it is true. What might a sober military analyst assess about Iraqi readiness to use three missiles, buried away. This analyst – making a further assumption that the Iraqi military were acting rationally – would ask several questions:
    – has the warhead been tested?
    – have the missiles been tested?
    – What might be the targets?
    – have the troops been trained to fire the missiles?
    – are the missiles an warheads maintained or just rusting in their bunkers?

    Here is where it gets tricky. No rational military would fire a missile unless it were sure it would work. A dud WMD would be highly embarassing. Hence negative answers to the above questions – or even the absence of positive answers would lead to the conclusion that there is no immanent military threat.

    However, since terrorist groups don’t have to worry about retaliation or embarassment the threat would still be present. The missiles might be fired and might work.

    Had all this been known, the Commander in Chief, might not have chosen a full scale invasion – but he still would have had to act.