NUCLEAR BOMBS NEWS
> TWO hundred nuclear warheads have gone missing in a country
suspected of selling high tech arms to Iraq, it emerged last night.
The terrifying revelation will heighten fears that Saddam Hussein
could be just one step away from having all the ingredients of an
atomic bomb. He has threatened terrorist attacks if Britain and
America confront him. The warheads, which have vanished in the former
Soviet republic of Ukraine, contain enough highly-radioactive
plutonium to destroy every capital in Europe and North America several
times over. An opposition leader in Ukraine, which has a long history
of selling radioactive materials, said that allegations of missing
warheads had been confirmed in an investigation by the chaotic
> Both Iraq and Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network are known to
have tried to obtain atomic bomb components from Ukraine.
Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko said: "Out of 2,400
nuclear warheads which were on Ukrainian territory, the withdrawal of
only 2,200 warheads has been verified. The fate of the remaining 200
warheads is unknown."
Ukraine was supposed to hand over to Russia all nuclear weapons that
were stationed on its territory when the USSR collapsed. This should
have been completed by 1997.
But Serhiy Sinchenko, head of the parliamentary investigation,
admitted that some of the missiles had been "lost".
Ukraine's government said yesterday that the allegations were
"unfounded" but their statement failed to answer why
paperwork on the whereabouts of 200 missiles and warheads was missing.
The country's security services said they were investigating the
The possibility that huge stocks of plutonium could be for sale
comes as a secret tape is said to confirm Ukrainian politicians'
involvement in selling high-tech weapons to Iraq. Washington is
examining secret recordings of a conversation between Ukrainian
president Leonid Kuchma and the head of the country's military export
service, Valeriy Malev.
The tape, made by a bodyguard who has since fled Ukraine, is said to
contain evidence of military sales to Iraq of Kalchuga radar equipment
through shadowy Jordanian middle men. Malev cannot be questioned
because he died in a mysterious road accident in March.
It is not the first time that allegations have been made of exSoviet
nuclear weapons going astray. The former head of Russia's security
council, Alexander Lebed, claimed that nuclear "briefcase"
bombs were also unaccounted for. Kuchma has recently boasted of his
warm links with Iraq, even though his country is seeking Nato and
European Union membership. Two weeks ago he said there were "good
prospects for development of our relations" with Baghdad.
Andy McClean, of Saferworld, a think tank that monitors the arms
trade, said: "We have long seen former Soviet countries becoming
suppliers of arms to conflict areas."
Professor Gary Milhollin, of Iraq Watch, a US think tank tracking
Baghdad's weapons development, said: "It's about time there was a
clampdown on Saddam's procurement network and the means he employs to
An Iraqi defector has claimed that Iraq has managed to
"pirate" sophisticated German centrifuges needed to convert
low quality uranium to weapons grade. Khidir Hamza said that Iraq has
developed hundreds of the machines which may have been in use since
late 1998. It would take around four years of continual refining
before the uranium was suitable for weapons use, meaning that Saddam
could be in possession of the bomb by this Christmas.
Hamza said: "The amount of uranium Iraq already has,
conservatively estimated in a German intelligence report at 10 tons of
natural uranium and 1.3 tons of low-enriched uranium, is enough for
three nuclear weapons.
"It's a relatively simple process once you have the plans and
some experience operating one or two centrifuges."
Washington announced earlier this month the interception of a shipment
to Iraq of highly refined aluminum tubes suitable for making
A Daily Express investigation today reveals how Saddam has used
smuggled oil to pay for an illicit worldwide weapons network, breaking
UN resolutions to import everything from helicopters to missile
guidance systems. Iraq is believed to have made at least £1.3billion
in unaccounted funds from smuggling last year alone. Fleets of trucks
cross the Jordanian and Turkish border every day, returning unchecked
by UN monitors with some carrying banned arms. Neighbour Syria has
also reopened a disused pipeline in direct contravention of the UN
Israeli intelligence sources say the two former enemies have been
working together on building up Saddam's Scud missile capability,
possibly allowing him to strike Israel using weapons of mass