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NY Daily News March 4, 02
Defector: I Bought Iraq Nukes
By HELEN KENNEDY Daily News Washington Bureau
An Iraqi defector has given Pentagon officials a detailed inside look at Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons programs — and told of buying nuclear materials with a briefcase full of $100 bills.
The defector, whose story is recounted in the new edition of Vanity Fair magazine, says he was involved in the most sensitive of Iraq's secret arms programs before fleeing a year and a half ago.
Presented to U.S. officials by the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based exile group pushing for an American attack on Iraq, the defector says Saddam is close to finishing a long-range ballistic missile that could hit Cairo; Ankara; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Nicosia, Cyprus, or Tehran.
The defector said he helped run a network of shell corporations that smuggled missile parts hidden inside TV sets and refrigerators.
He claims also to have worked on weapons programs, saying he came up with the idea to house eight mobile germ labs in meat and dairy trucks.
The defector told Vanity Fair he also was involved in Saddam's nuke program, saying he and two colleagues were sent on a clandestine trip to Tanzania in 1994.
He says they met with five Eastern Europeans and traded a briefcase stuffed with $100 bills for a heavy metal trunk of "what looked like pieces of black rock, glittery."
The description could match pieces of spent nuclear reactor fuel rods — the type of material that could be used in a radiological, or dirty, bomb.
The defector was one of 29 suspected conspirators arrested in 1998. He says he was tortured, interrogated and sexually abused for six months, then freed when it was clear he was innocent. He said such treatment normally serves to frighten Iraqis into line, but he resolved to escape.
The defector also said Iraq is backing and training the Hamas leaders who are sending suicide bombers into Israel — even showing them how to build bombs.
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