This week there were two news stories that re-opened an incredibly dangerous question about Saddam Hussein and nuclear weapons. Before examining those stories, it's important to reflect on the historical facts regarding Saddam Hussein and claims from five years ago that he was a nuclear threat to stability in the region and the world.
"How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.
If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.
Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009, owing to inexperience in building and operating centrifuge facilities to produce highly enriched uranium and challenges in procuring the necessary equipment and expertise.
Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotor - as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools - provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)"