The federal government has shut down a website it set up in March containing documents seized during the Iraq war after arms experts and officials raised concerns that it contained a guide to building a nuclear bomb, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The newspaper said the Bush administration started the site under pressure from congressional Republicans who had hoped to use the Internet to find evidence of the dangers posed by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
In recent weeks, the paper reported, the site posted documents that weapons experts said contained detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf War -- what one diplomat called “a cookbook” for building a bomb.
On Wednesday night, the government suspended the site “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing,” a spokesman for National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte told the newspaper.
The site, known as the Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal, contained about a dozen documents with charts, diagrams, equations and long narratives about bomb building that went beyond what was available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums, nuclear experts told the newspaper.
The Times said the documents provided information on building nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atomic bombs.
“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,” A. Bryan Siebert, a former official at the Energy Department, told the paper.