Hiding Saddam's Weapons

The Early Show, Gazi George, Chemical Weapons
CBS/The Early Show
U.S. soldiers have discovered 3,000 chemical suits in a hospital in central Iraq, raising concerns that Saddam Hussein is prepared to use chemical weapons against them.

Gazi George, a former scientist with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, says he knows first-hand that Hussein's regime is hiding weapons of mass destruction.

How does he know? Because he was one of the people ordered to hide them.

"Between 1976 and 1981, Saddam Hussein concentrated on building his nuclear might, in addition to spending a lot of money to advance his chemical and biological systems in there," George told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "I was mainly involved in the atomic energy side and the nuclear material, and Saddam used to use every opportunity that was available to him to hide the nuclear material from the inspectors in order to use it for further enrichment to build a nuclear bomb."

Back in 1981, he says he hid 39 rods of enriched uranium, enough to build two nuclear bombs. "The Iraqi government, or my boss at that time, was in charge of the atomic energy commission [and] called me in and told me that there might be a hit on the Iraqi reactor. And that I had to move the uranium out of the new reactor, which was the French reactor, and put it somewhere that's safe from a bombing campaign," he tells us.

The plant was reportedly destroyed by Israeli fighter jets in 1981, before it could be put into operation.

"I moved the material and moved it in special barrels, and then moved it to a swimming pool that we built. Mainly the swimming pool was to protect the uranium, since uranium has to be stored in water at that time--it was un-reacted highly enriched uranium. We put it in the swimming pool, and we kept it there, and it was funny that the reactor was hit on June 7, I believe, at 6:25 in the evening by the Israeli planes. There were two direct hits. To the best of my knowledge, there were 20 kilograms of highly enriched uranium that were never accounted for to the U.N. inspectors," George says.

The scientist fled Iraq in fear of his life after challenging the authorities. He has long feared that Saddam would retaliate against him and his family. But with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he now feels more secure in sharing his secrets.

"Saddam is a master of denial and deception. I believe, and I firmly believe, that he outsmarts those inspectors that are out there. The inspectors are looking for a needle in a haystack. In addition to that, the inspectors do not know the potential for hiding these materials," he says.

He fears that Saddam will attempt to use some of his illegal weapons stores soon. "On the level of chemical and biological, I believe that these weapons are distributed to his forces in the field," he says. "This is why I think they're either going to be used or the U.S. soldiers are going to discover them."