Jeffrey LewisIraqi Scientists In Iran?

Rob Stein at Mother Jones has this crazy idea
that “missing [Iraqi] nuclear scientists made their way to Tehran, where they would have been welcomed with open arms and fat paychecks.”

But as recently as February of this year, Iran was thought to have just slightly over 300 centrifuges. Where did they get the technical know-how and personnel for the expansion?

Maybe Iraq. Post-invasion Iraq, that is.

Um, no.

Iraq’s pre-Gulf War centrifuge program was much less advanced than is Iran’s today. As David Albright and Mark Hibbs argued in 1992, “the Iraqis had not settled on a centrifuge design and were not ready to make large numbers of centrifuges when the war broke out.” Albright and Hibbs were citing the ninth IAEA Report on On-Site Inspections in Iraq that “Iraq had not reached the point where it could start centrifuge production on a sizeable scale…”

In other words, Iraqi scientists—perhaps some of whom must be among the millions of refugees fleeing Iraq—would be unlikely to accelerate the timelines associated with Iran’s program.


  1. abcd (History)

    I bet when all those scientists fled Iraq for Iran, they brought plenty of WMDs with them and buried them underneath all of that sand…or transported them to Syria by plane. I can’t remember which one.

  2. Geoff Forden (History)

    Scientists! That is what everyone is hung up on. In fact, Iran bought “all” the things they would need a scientist for (designing components etc.) from AQ Khan. What they really needed was somebody from Iraq who knew how to flow-form a bellows and could train Iran’s shop-floor workers. And maybe they just did get that from post-war Iran.

  3. Andy (History)

    It reminds me of those Iraqi Aircraft that flew to Iran during the 1991 Gulf War. Iran kept the planes but they contributed nothing to their Air Force and I don’t think they were ever even flown by the Iranians.