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Al Atheer / al-Athir
Facility 190 / Ma'mal al-Athir
3246'43"N 4417'24"E

The Iraqi nuclear weapons effort, which was directed from the PC-3 headquarters received raw uranium for processing from mines at Ukashat. Seven facilities were promiment in the calutron enrichment program. Four of these facilities, al-Jesira, al-Atheer and al-Rabbiyah and al-Dijjla at Zafaraniyah, had not been identified by American intelligence as being associated with the nuclear weapons program and consequently escaped any significant damage from coalition airstrikes during the Gulf War. The Iraqis expected the al-Atheer site to be bombed and moved materials from the facility during the War. The three other facilities -- Tuwaitha, Tarmiya, and al-Fajar -- were previoiusly identified by American intelligence as being associated with the nuclear weapons program and suffered extensive damage during the War. Another program for the production of uranium under the Petrochemical-3 project used gas centrifuge enrichment, with two facilities at Al Furat and Rashidiya, and a third under construction at Taji.

Al Atheer Center, located 68 km SW of Baghdad at al-Musayin near al-Musayyib [Al Musayyib 3246'43"N 4417'24"E], was designed and constructed as the major facility for nuclear weapons development, testing and production. The Al Atheer site was principally involved in nuclear weapons design activities to service the weaponization program, as well as functioning as a materials production center. The PC-3's al-Atheer plant included hydrodynamic high explosives tests for developing a nuclear weapons design. Activities at the site were included: uranium casting and metallurgy, core assembly, explosive lens assembly, and detonics testing. A high explosives test bunker near the site was used for hydrodynamic experiments. Eight buildings at the Al Atheer/Al Hateen site covered an area of approximately 35,000 square meters.

The two most important buildings at the site were the material halls in Building 6210 and Building 6220. Building 100 at the factory was involved with explosive tests. Sometime prior to May 1990 this building was tested with a very large explosive charge. The test was successful and a celebration was held. Along the road to Building 100 are warehouses where capacitors intended for use in atomic bombs are stored. During the Gulf War, Building 100 sustained a direct hit which moved the heavily reinforced building slightly but otherwise left it undamaged. [GulfLink]

After repeated visits, nuclear weapons experts on the IAEA inspection team became convinced that it was the Al Atheer site that was principally involved in nuclear weapons design activities. Iraq maintained that it was a materials production center until 21 October 1991 when it admitted that the site had in fact been built also to service the weaponization program.

The large nuclear weapons related buildings and bunkers were destroyed under IAEA/UNSCOM supervision in summer 1992.

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