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The Thermonuclear Menís Club:  Iraq and Iran

The Thermonuclear Menís Club:    France | Great Britain | India | Israel |
Pakistan | Russia | United States | The Up and Coming: Iraq and Iran

Iran

In 1979 the Iranians tried to purchase 26.2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium; their application to the United States was pending when Shah Reha Pahlavi fell. The race for the bomb slowed after Khomeniís rise and the attendant sanctions and export restrictions; it heated up again after Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war. At present most experts believe that Iran has all the technology and knowledge required to construct its own bomb: all it needs is the fissile uranium or plutonium. Whether Iran presently has enough material for this is anyoneís guess. In 1994 the U.S. purchased 500 kilograms of enriched uranium from Kazakhstan after learning the Iranians were trying to purchase it. Most experts, however, agree that within five to ten years Iran will certainly have the material and the capability to produce an atomic bomb.

Iraq

The continuing UN sanctions against Iraq may have slowed Husseinís quest for nuclear capability; they certainly have made it more difficult for him to get the raw materials required. Nevertheless, in January 2001 an Iraqi defector claimed that the Iraqi army had successfully detonated two small nuclear bombs. This report has been disputed; few doubt that Iraq has the capability to produce a nuclear weapon, or that Iraq has made repeated efforts to acquire the necessary materials to do so. While best estimates suggest Iraq could not produce a nuclear warhead , it almost certainly could deploy a weapon to be delivered via airplane. Hussein has used chemical weapons in the past, both against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds; Iraq has also produced biological weapons like anthrax and ricin for military use.


Mike Doughty



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