Monthly Archives: November 2012

UNMOVIC on Iraqi Procurement

A little while back, I “blogged about”: UNMOVIC’s lessons-learned compendium published a few years ago.

Well, “Chapter VI”: of the document, which describes Iraq’s WMD procurement activities, contains some interesting bits, including a concise description of the methods Iraq used to circumvent UN sanctions:

bq.. a. Iraq had established and now expanded greatly a *sophisticated procurement network consisting of a complex chain of brokers, intermediaries, bank accounts and transportation companies that enabled it, if necessary, to procure items using false enduser certificates issued for third parties*;

b. After experiencing increasing problems in importing technology and raw materials from states that had implemented appropriate licensing systems, *Iraq largely switched its procurement efforts to companies or subsidiaries that operated in countries where such measures had not yet been developed, introduced or fully implemented*;

c. Mindful of the difficulties it had experienced in the acquisition of dual-use equipment and materials, and the likelihood that such difficulties would increase in the future, *Iraq attempted to procure some items in excessive quantities in order to secure and meet possible needs in the future*.

d. To circumvent technology transfer controls, *Iraq attempted to purchase relevant companies* (and their technical assets) and so gain access to the dual-use technology it needed.

p. It adds that

bq. Consequently, in order to maintain the acquisition of dual-use goods, *Iraq tried to adjust its procurement network to meet the emerging international trade norms.* These changes involved the use of legitimate commercial organisations in Iraq…as front companies for the procurement of dual-use items and materials.

Some of this might sound familiar.

Lastly, I’ll add this portion without comment:

bq. In the early 1980s, Iraq contracted a foreign company to perform a number of static field tests, outside Iraq, of conventional artillery shells and rocket warheads *filled with materials to simulate chemical weapons.* The performance characteristics such as the nature and extent of dispersion of the liquid payload were evaluated, as were the optimal parameters such as the burster tube length and charge strength. *After the tests had confirmed the suitability of such shells and warheads, Iraq procured assemblies for 50,000 artillery projectiles and 25,000 rockets from this company* for its CW programme.

HCOC 10th Anniversary

I’m a day late with this. The French MFA “noted yesterday”: that Nov 26 was the 10th anniversary of the “Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.”:

They should have t shirts.

*Update:* And, via Twitter, the US Mission in Vienna had “this statement.”:

No MEWMDFZ Conference

I’m behind a bit, but both the “US”: and “Finland”: say it’s not happening this year. Doubt too many people are surprised.

Via “BASIC on Twitter.”:


The US announcement contains a sentence that might be kind of interesting (emphasis added):

bq. We would not support a conference in which _any_ regional state would be subject to pressure or isolation.

CIA and DIA and Iraq BW: May 2003 Edition

Remember “this?”:

bq. Coalition forces have uncovered the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.

Diagrams and everything. Yeah.

I’ve always wanted to know the story behind it.

Alan Turing…NYRB edition

I meant to blog about “this NYRB piece”: about Alan Turing, whom the author identifies as “the man who…had originally worked out the possibility of a universal computer.”

The advent of said computer is, of course, of interest to nuclear weapons geeks:

bq.. The digital universe came into existence, physically speaking, late in 1950, in Princeton, New Jersey, at the end of Olden Lane. That was when and where the first genuine computer—a high-speed, stored-program, all-purpose digital-reckoning device—stirred into action. It had been wired together, largely out of military surplus components, in a one-story cement-block building that the Institute for Advanced Study had constructed for the purpose. The new machine was dubbed MANIAC, an acronym of “mathematical and numerical integrator and computer.”

*And what was MANIAC used for, once it was up and running? Its first job was to do the calculations necessary to engineer the prototype of the hydrogen bomb. Those calculations were successful.* On the morning of November 1, 1952, the bomb they made possible, nicknamed “Ivy Mike,” was secretly detonated over a South Pacific island called Elugelab. The blast vaporized the entire island, along with 80 million tons of coral. One of the air force planes sent in to sample the mushroom cloud—reported to be “like the inside of a red-hot furnace”—spun out of control and crashed into the sea; the pilot’s body was never found. A marine biologist on the scene recalled that a week after the H-bomb test he was still finding terns with their feathers blackened and scorched, and *fish whose “skin was missing from a side as if they had been dropped in a hot pan.”*

p. Anyhow, a more recent issue of the Review had “an exchange”: about who was actually responsible for creating the first computer. I am far from qualified to evaluate it, but enjoy.

Isao Hashimoto

Whatever one thinks of the CTBT, this 2003 work by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto is an amazing piece of art and a pretty useful history lesson.

I was unaware of its existence until I saw it this past week at a CTBTO event. Of art, I am ignorant.

AQK On Pakistani Enrichment Limits

An astute reader pointed out that AQ Khan recently “commented on”: Pakistan’s decision in the 1980s to refrain from producing WGHEU.

According to Khan, then- Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

bq. ordered me to *stop the enrichment of uranium at 5%* as she wanted to please the United States and get aid,” Dr Qadeer said adding: “The enrichment was stopped at 5% as per the orders of the Prime Minister.

This action has been known for a while, but both the astute reader and I think this the first public AQK conformation of it.