Friday, November 03, 2006

Bush Admin Posted Nuclear Bomb Building Guide On The Internet

U.S. shuts Web site said to reveal nuclear guide: NYT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has shut down a Web site it set up in March containing documents captured during the Iraq war after arms experts and officials raised concerns it offered a guide to building a nuclear bomb, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

The newspaper said the Bush administration started the site under pressure from congressional Republicans who had hoped to use the Internet to find new evidence of the dangers posed by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In recent weeks, according to the Times, the site posted documents that weapons experts said contained detailed accounts of Iraq's secret nuclear research before the 1991 Gulf War that one diplomat called "a cookbook" for building an atom bomb.

On Wednesday night, after the Times informed the government about the concerns, it said the government suspended the site. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said the site was suspended "pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing."

The paper quoted European diplomats as saying that officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear watchdog made a private protest to the U.S. ambassador to the agency, voicing concern the information could help countries like Iran develop nuclear weapons.

The site, known as "Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal," contained about a dozen documents with charts, diagrams, equations and long narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts told the Times went beyond what was available on the Internet and other public forums.

The Times said the documents provided information on building nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

"For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible," A. Bryan Siebert, a former official at the Energy Department, which runs the nation's nuclear arms program, told the paper.

National intelligence director John Negroponte resisted setting up the Web site, the Times said, but President George W. Bush approved the site after congressional Republicans proposed a bill to require the documents' release.

According to the Times, conservative politicians and publications hoped analysis of the some 48,000 boxes of documents seized in the Iraq invasion would reinvigorate the search for proof Saddam had unconventional arms programs.

Bush cited concerns about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction as a major cause for the Iraq invasion. No such weapons have been found.