13 Firms Named in Probe of Iraq’s Nuclear Program : Military: IAEA releases names after criticism. Most of the firms are German, but one is American.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, smarting under criticism that it had failed to cite countries and companies that helped Iraq’s efforts to develop nuclear arms, released the names of 13 companies that manufactured equipment used in the Iraqi secret weapons program.
Most of the companies are German. There is one American firm named: Du Pont Co., the chemical giant, which manufactured a fluorinated vacuum pump oil of nuclear grade.
But in an interview, Hans Blix--the former Swedish foreign minister who is director general of the agency, a U.N. organization--cautioned that his inspectors only “identified equipment” used by the Iraqis.
The inspectors, he emphasized, did not know whether the companies themselves had supplied the equipment to Iraq. The Iraqis often used intermediaries or other deceptive methods to buy material for their covert program.
Other sources at the agency added a new mystery to the procurement conspiracy when they said there is strong evidence that at least one European technician helped Iraq use this equipment in its sophisticated centrifuge system for producing highly enriched uranium, the fuel used in a nuclear bomb. Blix confirmed that Iraq received “assistance from Western experts,” but he did not identify them.
Most of the companies named by the agency manufactured equipment used in the centrifuge system. The IAEA, which has been charged by the U.N. Security Council with uncovering the extent of Iraq’s nuclear program and then destroying it, cited the following companies as the manufacturers of equipment and materials used in the centrifuge process:
* Du Pont, producer of Krytox, the nuclear grade fluorinated vacuum pump oil.
* H & H Metallform Maschinenbau and Vertriebs Ltd., manufacturer of a flow forming machine.
* Leybold Heraeus AG, manufacturer of an electron beam welder.
* Neue Magdelburger Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Ltd., manufacturer of three large centrifuge machines.
* Degussa, manufacturer of a large oxidation furnace.
* Acomel Ltd., manufacturer of high frequency converters for operating centrifuges.
* Dr. Reutlinger & Soehne, manufacturer of horizontal and vertical balancing machines.
Three firms--NUPRO, VAT and Balzer--manufacture different types of bellows valves.
The IAEA identified three companies that produced equipment for use at a site involved in attempting to produce a nuclear weapon: Asea Brown Boverie, producer of a large cold isostatic press; Arthur Pfeiffer Vakuum Technik Ltd., manufacturer of very high temperature furnaces; and Hamamatsu, producer of two sophisticated video cameras with speed and resolution suitable for use in the preparation of weapons.
Ever since September, when its inspectors seized thousands of pages of documents in Baghdad that detailed the extent of the Iraqi nuclear program, the IAEA has been under pressure to release the names of companies and countries that showed up in the files as Iraq’s suppliers of equipment and materiel.
Agency officials supplied this information to the Security Council, which then relayed it in secret to the governments of countries involved. But the information has proven too embarrassing for governments to release; the IAEA has been accused of doing little more than protecting the governments and companies involved in Iraq’s complex procurement system.
The release of the manufacturers’ names, which had been appended to an inspection report sent to the U.N. this week, evidently represents a new way for the agency to deal with the companies involved.
In Wilmington, Del., Du Pont officials released a statement acknowledging that the company sold 30 gallons of a special lubricating oil, worth $30,000, to the Iraqis in May, 1989.
“At the time, Iraq and the United States were on friendly terms,” the statement said. It noted that the Commerce Department granted Du Pont an export license for the chemical in February, 1989, “without objection from the U.S. departments of State and Energy.”
Commerce Department actions on export licenses are confidential, but congressional investigators who have looked into U.S. exports to Iraq have criticized the Reagan and Bush Administrations for failing to raise objections when U.S. companies sought to ship high-technology goods to Iraq--shipments that continued, in some cases, until only months before Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August, 1990.
According to Du Pont, the company received an order “to purchase a fluorinated lubricant for vacuum pumps” from the State Company for Oil Projects in Baghdad in late 1988 or early 1989 and shipped it a few months later. The oil, the company noted, is “used widely in the electronics and chemical processing industries.”