August 11, 2004


Physicist: Saddam's Uranium Stockpile Enough to Yield 142 Nukes (NewsMax, 8/09/04)

Five hundred tons of yellowcake uranium ore stored at Saddam Hussein's al Tuwaitha nuclear weapons research laboratory near Baghdad could have been enriched to produce 142 nuclear weapons, a prominent British physicist has determined. Addressing the claim by British intelligence last year that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger, Norman Dombey, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Sussex, argued, "Iraq already had far more uranium than it needed for any conceivable nuclear weapons programme."

In an op-ed piece for London's Evening Standard, Professor Dombey explained that standard yellowcake ore consists of 99 percent Uranium 238 [U238], "which is radioactive but is not used in normal nuclear weapons as it cannot sustain a chain reaction."

To cause a nuclear chain reaction, he noted, "you need U235, which only makes up less than 1 percent [0.7] of natural uranium."

After doing the calculations, Professor Dombey explained, "You have a warehouse containing 500 tons of natural uranium; you need 25 kilograms of U235 to build one weapon. How many nuclear weapons can you build?

"The answer is 142."

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2004 6:40 PM

So, why didn't the Bush admin say that Saddam had 500 tons of uranium, instead of that he was trying to buy some ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at August 11, 2004 6:51 PM

Joe Palme denies it all.

Posted by: oj at August 11, 2004 7:06 PM

That's long tons, not metric tons, BTW. If it were metric, 1 ton would equal 1000 kilograms and it would work out to 140 weapons exactly; with long tons, 1 ton equals 1016.05 kilograms and it works out to 142.247 weapons. (/mathnerd)

Posted by: Just John at August 11, 2004 7:06 PM

Yes, but enrichment to 90% or more U235 is the (very) hard part here - Hussein was of course trying his damndest to obtain the means.

Acquiring natural uranium is difficult to stop, apparently.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at August 11, 2004 7:58 PM

Natural uranium isn't particularly uncommon.

Posted by: mike earl at August 11, 2004 9:10 PM

Michael - unless the media discovers a huge stockpile labelled "WMDs created after 1991 to be used to destroy the United States" there will never be WMD in Iraq.

Posted by: AWW at August 11, 2004 11:36 PM

I thought that the answer was 42:-)

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 12, 2004 1:52 AM

I'm with Michael on this one. Hopefully Bush will win the election, and we can "move on", but the entire WMD issue is a total distraction, which is making my b*tt tired. In hindsight (i emphasize hindsight) he should have merely pushed harder on the legalistic argument that Saddam had not precisely following the 1992 ceasefire terms.

After this election, even if Bush wins he will have to constantly deal with yelping from the puppies on the left, about his credibility. (hope I'm wrong)

Posted by: h-man at August 12, 2004 6:20 AM


Blair felt he needed the WMD for domestic political reasons and as a lever to get support at the UN. Bush let him try.

Posted by: oj at August 12, 2004 8:18 AM

doubleplusungood refs unevents.

war is peace
freedom is slavery
ignorance is strength
2 + 2 = 5
bush is goldstein
jfk2 4 prez

Posted by: Ken at August 12, 2004 12:25 PM