Iraq's Acquisition of Gas Centrifuge Technology
Part II: Recruitment of Karl Heinz Schaab
In early 1989, Bruno Stemmler told his friend and former colleague at MAN Karl Heinz Schaab that he was involved in a gas centrifuge research project at the University of Baghdad. Stemmler said he was going to get a professorship at the university specializing in solar energy, hydrogen for energy production, and gas centrifuge work. Schaab accepted at face value Stemmler's statement that his work would be aimed at research and teaching. Because Schaab liked and respected Stemmler, he said he wanted to help Stemmler obtain this position. He also saw an opportunity to sell centrifuge test equipment to Stemmler and his colleagues in Iraq.
For his part, Stemmler said he wanted help from Schaab in this endeavor. Stemmler was thinking of Schaab when he mentioned a carbon fiber specialist to Iraqis in 1988. However, Iraq would not order anything from Schaab until mid-1989.
Schaab was a highly skilled and knowledgeable gas centrifuge expert. He worked at MAN from 1970 to 1982 as a laboratory technician and played an important role in developing and assembling carbon fiber rotors. His responsibilities at MAN included the design and monitoring of manufacturing methods for the production of composite parts as well as the manufacture of devices and equipment for testing and assembling the rotor of the gas centrifuge. He was at MAN during the development of the first versions of composite rotors, which included subcritical rotors made of carbon fibers wrapped around an aluminum liner. He worked on later versions made from only carbon fiber. He also knew about supercritical centrifuges. His work included the testing of prototype parts on specialized equipment, in particular ensuring that prototypes met specifications developed in calculations and design work. He also developed gluing techniques that could guarantee that there was a gas-proof seal where the lids, or end caps, met the carbon fiber rotor tube. This involved developing and testing equipment for pressing together the lids and tubes. According to German centrifuge experts, through his work, his access to classified documents, and his conversations with colleagues, Schaab acquired profound knowledge of the essential details of gas centrifuge technology.
In 1982, Schaab left MAN on his own accord because of his disappointment with his work conditions. He said that his superiors took advantage of his inventions without sharing credit or financial rewards with him. He was particularly bitter about how his superiors kept him from being named on key and potentially lucrative patents.
Schaab worked briefly for the German company Rhein-Bayern, which was headed by his friend Anton Eyerle. Eyerle would later play an important role in providing Iraq with conventional armaments and a few centrifuge subcomponents, particularly for the motor. Iraqis described Rhein-Bayern as a company that "could supply anything." Eyerle had extreme right wing views. When Iraqi centrifuge experts visited him, Eyerle broadcast Nazi music or speeches by Adolf Hitler. Although Schaab expressed fondness for Eyerle, he did not appear to have shared his far-right views.
In 1984, Schaab and his wife created Rosch GmbH in Kaufbeuren, Germany. The company's name is a shortening of his wife's maiden name Ronniger and his name. Rosch made parts from composite materials, primarily carbon fiber, for several companies in Germany, including Audi, Roehm, and Digital Equipment Corporation. He also continued to do consulting work for MAN, including making centrifuge measuring and testing equipment.
While at MAN, Schaab had become close to Stemmler both professionally and personally. Schaab and Stemmler had offices in the same MAN building, located away from the main building. They helped each other solve technical problems they were facing at work. Schaab focused on the more practical aspects of a problem, and Stemmler worked on a more theoretical level. They also started to see each other privately.
According to Schaab, Stemmler's first concrete request about working with Iraq occurred in March or April 1989. Stemmler asked Schaab whether he could weld together a ball with a needle for use in the bottom bearing of a centrifuge. Schaab declined at that time because he did not have the resources to do this operation, which required a high degree of precision welding.
With H+H's problems in manufacturing maraging steel rotors, the opportunities for Schaab to get involved with Iraq increased substantially. Although Iraq had no intention of abandoning maraging steel rotors, Stemmler is believed to have convinced the Iraqis of the usefulness of establishing a parallel track on carbon fiber rotors. This shift to carbon-fiber rotors started in late spring 1989.
Although the designing and initial manufacturing of carbon fiber rotors is more difficult than maraging steel rotors, the manufacturing equipment for carbon fiber rotors is significantly less expensive, and the manufacturing process is easier once the technique is mastered.
The exact process through which Schaab started to work for the Iraqis was elaborate. In the spring of 1989, Habobi approached Hinze and asked him to find someone to make armored plates for cars. Stemmler soon afterwards recommended Schaab to Hinze. Afterwards, Hinze telephoned Schaab and made the offer, which Schaab accepted.
Hinze, in cooperation with Stemmler, arranged a visit of senior Iraqis, including Ubeidy, Adel and two other Iraqis, to Rosch in March or April 1989. Schaab, who clearly wanted business from the Iraqis, gave a presentation in his factory where he showed the various types of products Rosch made and discussed the manufacturing processes the company used. Along with other products, Schaab laid out a carbon-fiber rotor. He also discussed the winding of carbon fiber and demonstrated a laboratory winding machine located in his factory. The Iraqis expressed general interest in Schaab's presentation, but they mostly focused their interest on armored plates, according to Schaab.
Schaab explained that he gave such a detailed presentation of his company's products and capabilities because he hoped to get additional orders to support Stemmler's gas centrifuge research work in Iraq. He reckoned that Stemmler would need many machines and other items that he could provide. Schaab hoped that the work with Iraq would be continuous and involve orders that would better employ his company's "new technology" talents, particularly its hunger to use digital or computerized equipment.
During the previous several years, Schaab had become frustrated with the prospect of obtaining long-term, labor intensive work with German companies. Personally, he would have preferred work from a German company, something he had "always strived for but never succeeded in obtaining." In his attempt to obtain greater domestic business, he often felt exploited by larger companies. He said that frequently ROSCH's suggestions or sample parts led to patents for the larger companies and few concrete results for his company.
Schaab explained that a contract with Iraq could mean a step towards continuous and profitable work for ROSCH. He also believed that the type of work Iraq offered would benefit his employees. He could pay them better and employ them to do work more in line with their qualifications. In the past, he said, he had often been forced to take contracts involving simple, mechanical work to find enough work to pay his employees.
Schaab has consistently stated that he would not have undertaken a project with Iraq if Stemmler had not arranged the cooperation. Schaab said he was more willing to work with the Iraqis because he believed he was assisting Stemmler establish a laboratory at the University of Baghdad.
Pretext of the Armored plates
Rosch's contract with Iraq for armored plates involved the development of light-weight armoring against Kalashnikov assault rifles and the installation of this plating on three German automobiles. The contract for the armored plating was substantial, involving in total about 500,000 Deutsche Marks (DM). Besides being lucrative, this contract served to create a relationship with officials in the Iraqi gas centrifuge program.
Schaab said that Iraq's initial contact with Rosch was "quite comparable to those undertaken by domestic companies." He added that "there were no indications of intentions that would have differed from initial steps taken for normal business dealings."
Schaab, however, knew his partners were interested in gas centrifuges, and he hoped for centrifuge-related work. He also made the armored plates for the centrifuge front company Industrial Project Company (IPC). Schaab cannot claim he was duped into doing centrifuge business with Iraq.
A benefit of the contract to make armored plates was that it gave Schaab a cover for what he envisioned would be a considerable number of orders for the Iraqi centrifuge program. Without this cover, difficult to answer questions could have arisen about the purpose of his business with Iraq.
This contract also provided a reason for IPC to open letters of credit (LC) to pay Rosch. The first LC was opened on July 11, 1989 for about 125,000 DM. Subsequently, four more letters of credit were opened by IPC for Rosch between mid-September 1989 and early 1990, totaling about one million DM. It is unknown if part of the 500,000 DM received under the armored plate contract was used to pay for centrifuge assistance, particularly expert services that might have been difficult for Rosch to bill.
Regardless of the purpose of the armored plate contract, Schaab and his colleagues at Rosch spent a considerable amount of time making and testing the armored plates for Iraq. Schaab believed that the armored plates were important to the Iraqis, who had requested that the plates meet additional specifications dictated by the high temperatures and poor street conditions in Iraq and by a desire to have the plates be oil resistant. Schaab provided the Iraqis with samples of armored plates and the qualification tests of these plates, which Rosch conducted at the Bureau of Standards in Munich.
After developing this plating, Schaab applied for an export license to ship three armored automobiles to Iraq. However, in early 1990, the German government denied this request. His subsequent attempts to obtain an export license were likewise denied.
However, while this work was progressing in the summer and fall of 1989, Schaab became involved directly in assisting the Iraqi gas centrifuge program. The rest of the Iraqi orders were for the centrifuge project.
Schaab's Growing Role
During the spring and summer of 1989, Schaab met often with Iraqi experts. During this period, Rosch grew to develop intensive business connections that provided the economic foundation for Rosch until September 1990.
Iraq grew to value Schaab's contribution. Schaab had direct experience in making centrifuge components and test equipment. Ubeidy said that Schaab was "very good with his hands." For the prototype centrifuge development program, Schaab would come to play a critical role. For most of the items Rosch provided, H+H facilitated the logistics.
In his statement to the German court in 1999 in Munich, Schaab outlined his growing business activities with Iraq during this critical period. The following summarizes his statement.
Towards the end of April or May 1989, Stemmler contacted Schaab again, telling him that the Iraqis wanted to meet in Austria because they did not have a visa for Germany. Both Stemmler and Busse, who planned to attend, wanted Schaab to participate. Hinze also planned to attend the meeting.
Schaab agreed and joined the meeting in Berwang, in the Austrian Tirol. The Iraqi group included the four scientists who had earlier visited Rosch.
Although most of the meeting was dedicated to a discussion of maraging steel rotors, Schaab did have significant discussions with the Iraqis on the balancing of tubes and on the proper equipment and methods to use in this procedure. He was also asked about the technique of pressing the metal end caps into a steel tube, but he did not know much about this technique for metal rotors, only for carbon fiber rotors.
At this meeting, Stemmler talked about the purpose and design of an air stand. Stemmler, who had extensive experience with the running of rotors at MAN on such equipment, described this piece of equipment as specifically tailored for an assembled centrifuge rotor. This machine allows measurements and observations of certain centrifuge characteristics while the rotor spins at low speeds. It also permits adjustments in the centrifuge to optimize the motor and upper bearing. In this discussion, Schaab helped Stemmler describe the machine with hand drawings.
Towards the end of this meeting, one Iraqi asked Schaab if he could perform a complicated winding pattern in a carbon-fiber rotor, called "crossfree" winding. Such a pattern is used in the production of high-performance components. He answered yes. But Schaab was surprised that the Iraqis knew enough to ask this question. He assumed that either Stemmler or Busse had told the Iraqis about crossfree winding.
As a result of this meeting, Schaab saw an opportunity for Rosch to build an air stand and a laboratory-scale winding machine. During this meeting, Schaab was completely aware that the purpose of his collaboration with Iraq would be the centrifuge.
In June, Schaab received an invitation to visit Iraq through H&H Metalform. Schaab met Hinze in Zurich, and they flew together to Baghdad.
They arrived in Baghdad late at night, and were met by an Iraqi colleague who took them to their hotel. The next day they were driven to an office building in downtown Baghdad for discussions. Schaab described this location as the offices of IPC, although the offices were in an Iraqi ministry building. Many subsequent talks took place in this room.
The meetings on this trip, which involved two to three Iraqis, focused on several topics. A recurring topic was the balancing of steel tubes, based on the technique Schaab had described earlier in Austria. From the nature of the discussions, Schaab realized that this problem was urgent to the Iraqis.
Shortly before Schaab departed Baghdad, the Iraqis showed him a general assembly drawing of a subcritical maraging steel centrifuge machine. They asked Schaab if he was familiar with this machine and whether this design represented an old or new type of machine. He told them that, as far as he knew, this type of machine was still used in Germany. They also asked what was more modern: the steel machine or the carbon-fiber machine. He answered that the fiber machine was the machine of the future.
Schaab's second meeting in Baghdad was in early July 1989. He again flew to Baghdad with Hinze, and an Iraqi colleague met them and took them to their hotel.
The next day they were driven to the same building as during the previous visit. According to Schaab, he described Rosch's products and services to a larger group of Iraqis. In a trip report, Schaab described the negotiations as in a "typical Arab style, very tough and long drawn." He added that "tangible results can be estimated only with difficulty."
During this visit the main topic was the ring magnet. Iraqi calculations had shown that the upper bearing magnet, which was an AlNiCo-type, would not work at high speed; it would burst at these speeds. The only solution was a wrap of antimagnetic material, such as carbon-fiber. They also discussed testing equipment that could check each ring magnet so as to exclude a failure. With the help of hand drawings, he described to the Iraqis how to test the ring magnets and make the necessary equipment.
After long discussions, Schaab was asked to provide an offer for this testing equipment. The Iraqis also asked whether Schaab could produce these carbon-fiber rings around the magnets. Once they specified the type of fiber and the dimensions of the ring magnets, he said he would produce such rings.
Schaab recalls that during this visit he was asked to make an offer for a laboratory-scale winding machine. Schaab claims that he told the Iraqis he would need to determine if this equipment required an export license, or at least a "negative-certification" which is a statement from the German government that the item does not require an export license. When Schaab later asked the German government about obtaining a negative certification, an official said that Schaab would need an end-user certificate. After telling the Iraqis of this requirement, he says that the Iraqis did not ask Rosch again to make a laboratory-scale winding machine (but see later section called "Winding Machine").
Visit by German Police
In July 1989, the German government police picked up Stemmler, Busse, Hinze, and Brauer at their houses on suspicion of committing espionage for Iraq. According to Brauer, the government's suspicion was based on the efforts by Busse and Stemmler to find people in Germany who would help Iraq build gas centrifuges.
According to the trial statements of employees, MAN personnel were aware as early as September 1988 that Stemmler and Busse were aiding an Arab country with gas centrifuges. In January 1989, a former employee of Busse was told by his supervisor not to talk to Busse anymore. This supervisor said that Busse and Stemmler were involved in copying the gas centrifuge for "some Arab country." This employee says he called Busse and told him that he was disappointed in the activity of Busse who had long been a role model. He told Busse not to visit his workshop again.
Whether these specific MAN personnel notified the authorities is unclear. But Stemmler in particular was contacting enough MAN colleagues for assistance on centrifuges that is was inevitable that one would eventually notify the authorities. Schaab, in fact, said that MAN contacted the authorities after one of its employees was approached by Stemmler for assistance.
After being questioned all day by authorites, they were released. No charges were filed. According to Hinze, the investigation seems to have been mainly focused on whether they had properly filed export applications.
Schaab said that the police also came to his house at the same time that Busse and Stemmler were visited, but he insisted that he was visited in July 1988 and not 1989. He said that the visit occurred before he started to work in Iraq. He says that Stemmler gave the police his name, but the investigators spent only 15 minutes with him and told him that any business with Iraq should have an export license. Schaab is likely confused about the date of the police visit.
The visit by the authorities did little to discourage Hinze, Schaab, and the others from continuing their assistance to Iraq. Whatever the authorities intended to accomplish, they failed miserably.
The only apparent effect appears to be that Hinze and others started to worry about Stemmler. However, Stemmler continued to be active in assisting Iraq, at least in Europe. He may have also continued to visit Iraq in his effort to obtain a position at the university. According to Hinze, the Iraqis would have likely encouraged Stemmler to believe this. At least, the story remained a good cover story for Stemmler, and Schaab continued to believe that Stemmler would obtain a position at the University of Baghdad.
September 1989 Meeting
With the delays in obtaining components and testing equipment for the prototype centrifuge, Iraqi centrifuge officials were under intense pressure by their superiors to show progress. As a result, they pressured Schaab and Hinze during a series of meeting held in Baghdad from September 4-7, 1989 to accelerate the delivery of centrifuge components and test equipment for the prototype machine. By this time, Iraq had agreed to pursue both maraging steel and carbon fiber rotors.
At one point during a meeting, Schaab was having a difficult discussion with Ubeidy about the time schedule for the delivery of a set of items needed for the prototype centrifuge program. Schaab told Ubeidy that he could not produce all the items on the proposed schedule. Schaab said Ubeidy was shaking in fright during these discussions. Ubeidy begged Schaab to sign the time schedule. If he did not sign, Ubeidy said that his superiors will "cut off my head." Nonetheless, Schaab stubbornly said he could not produce all the listed items on that schedule.
The Iraqis called in Hinze from another meeting to persuade Schaab to sign. Hinze told Schaab in private that he did not have to meet the schedule, but Ubeidy must not get into trouble. As a result, Schaab agreed to provide the items on a fixed, expedited schedule. The Iraqis made Hinze responsible for the time schedule for the delivery of the set of parts and required him to report regularly on progress in delivering these parts.
Hinze took the Iraqis concerns seriously. He believed that Ubeidy could be killed if he did not produce. But he also realized that the tasks must be realized for the sake of his own company. Schaab said that Hinze was very dependent on Iraqi business and needed Schaab to make these items, particularly the carbon fiber rotors.
Schaab said he did Hinze a big favor by agreeing to the schedule. He also believed he was protecting Ubeidy's life, which he said he would do again if he were put into a similar situation.
The major agreements of these meetings were summarized in a four-page hand-written document titled "Minutes of Meeting," dated September 7, 1989, and signed by Hinze, Schaab, and Mohammed (code name for Ubeidy), representing the two "parties." The document was written in English by non-native English speakers and thus has many grammatical and spelling mistakes. Listed below are condensed summaries of the minutes.
The document had a preface. It stated that during the period September 4-7, meetings were held between the two undersigned parties during which discussions centered on various outstanding technical matters and offers for the supply of parts and equipment. The following outlines the major agreements.
Air stand Iraq accepted the offer by Schaab. Furthermore, the following conditions were also binding although they were not included in the contract for the air stand. Its delivery shall be November 1st. Mr. Schaab shall be present for the delivery of the machines for a period of about one week in November. He guaranteed that this machine shall be able to perform a number of functions which shall later ensure the proper operation of the prototype machine. These functions were as follows:
To measure the vibration of the cylinder and adjust the needle bearing (part of the bottom bearing) to obtain the right position of the ball;
To arrive at the optimum gap between upper bearing magnets;
To arrive at the optimum gap between the motor stator and the rotating disk; and
To perform experiments to arrive at the best arrangement for damping the vibration of the scoop.
Rig for testing magnet rings They agreed that this machine was ordered from Schaab with the following clarifications that were to be treated as binding even though they were not included in the contract for this item:
The delivery shall be in the beginning of November;
This machine shall be able to perform the radial expanding of magnets (AlNiCo- type). Schaab stated that the expansion shall be 33 microns and the test machine will be able to qualify the magnets before their assembly in the centrifuge.
This rig shall include:
A calibration tool; and
A high quality electrical system.
Prototype This section involved both a preliminary and final stage.
In the preliminary stage, both sides agreed that the steps for attaining the prototype are as follows;
Preliminary testing in the air stand to obtain the parameters necessary for further testing in the mechanical test stand, also called the "dummy stand," [which can spin at full speed and enrich small quantities of uranium hexafluoride.] The testing period in the air stand shall be for about one week in November.
During this period, both the steel tubes and carbon fiber tubes shall be qualified.
These functions shall be performed with a complete rotor including "pressed cups" for the bottom bearing (a component Schaab also agreed to supply).
In the final stage, both sides agreed to carry out the complete assembly of the centrifuge rotor assembly for the mechanical testing. This period shall be about one month starting after the New Year holiday. The aims were:
Evaluate the mechanical performance of the machine at operating speeds;
Evaluate vacuum integrity;
Evaluate vacuum pump;
Evaluate its performance with process gas [uranium hexafluoride] during the following month.
Carbon fiber Cylinders Iraq accepted the offer for the supply of twenty (20) cylinders made from carbon fiber according to the following:
The delivery of the cylinders shall be in middle of December 1989 (15-24 Dec.);
The inner diameter of the cylinder shall be 145.85 +\- 0.07 mm.;
The length shall be 614 [word missing] and this length shall be exactly fixed before the end of September after Schaab calculates the reduction in the length of cylinder when it is spinning at 1050 Hz.;
The quality of the cylinder and its tolerances shall be suitable for centrifuges. These tolerances shall be fixed (illegible word). Schaab guaranteed their quality and agreed to certify the cylinders. Schaab expressed great confidence that the required specifications for cylinders shall by met (illegible word or words);
One engineer shall be present at the works of Schaab to assist in the production of these parts and to acquire the technology.
Steel Cylinders The problem of producing steel cylinders in the suitable quantities was still outstanding. This point was discussed at length during the meetings and the parties agreed to the following:
The certified production of the required cylinders with the required specifications was guaranteed;
The time of their delivery was set as November 1989;
Two specialists shall stay in H+H for the next trial period starting in the beginning of October;
The ordered flow-forming machine (DV 380) must be able to produce the required cylinders in the quality required. The produced cylinders must undergo successful runs in the air stand, the balancing machine, and the mechanical test stand. Tests of the flow-forming machine at H+H premises must be continued until acceptable cylinders are produced.
Dummy Stand (or Mechanical Test Stand) Designs shall be supplied by Schaab on September 25 with the important dimensions and tolerances.
A former MAN scientist who read the document at the request of ISIS said that the list of equipment is necessary for any program engaging in centrifuge work. He said the Iraqis could not have figured out this list of equipment by themselves. He added that the testing equipment is not that difficult to make, and once Iraq possessed and worked with these items, Iraq could remake them relatively easily.
At these meetings in September, Schaab and the Iraqis discussed the needle and the cup in which the ball of the needle sits. The cup must be machined quite precisely, within about two thousands of a millimeter. Schaab reluctantly, and under pressure, agreed to make the cup. Although he encountered difficulties in making this component, he eventually made them successfully.
In the end, Schaab could not meet the time schedule in the minutes. However, he did provide the vast bulk, if not all, of the items and technical assistance listed in the Minutes as his responsibility.
Design for Urenco Supercritical Centrifuge
One of Schaab and Stemmler's most troubling sales involved the sale of classified information about advanced Urenco supercritical centrifuges. This case illustrates the method they used to interest the Iraqis in what they had to sell and in the process made more money.
This information is based on Schaab's statements in 1999 and 2000. Stemmler had died several years earlier, and is not known to have discussed this sale.
This classified information included a number of designs for an experimental version of a Urenco, 3-meter long supercritical centrifuge named TC-11. Although Stemmler had provided a considerable number of classified documents directly to the Iraqis, he reportedly decided to recruit Schaab to sell this set of documents.
In August or September 1989, Stemmler invited Schaab to a meeting with the Iraqis in Auerbach, Germany, which is one or two hours south of Frankfurt. The Iraqis requested the meeting to discuss with Stemmler the test stand and other experimental equipment needed for the prototype program. The meetings apparently pre-dated the September meetings in Baghad, which Stemmler did not attend.
During the drive from Bavaria, Schaab said that Stemmler said that he had "harmless" centrifuge drawings, which he would like to sell to the Iraqis. Schaab was at first surprised that Stemmler talked about such sales, but Schaab saw that the documents were marked "official use only." This classification level involves documents that are considered secret, but not sufficiently so as to require that each document be registered and kept in a safe or under surveillance. Schaab said that documents marked with this classification level were "freely available to every MAN employee." Nonetheless, the documents are intended for individuals or firms on a "need to know basis."
Stemmler explained to Schaab that he had given many documents to Iraq and that sometimes he had received money for providing the documents. He thus assumed that in the future he was unlikely to get a good price for providing documents. He thus asked Schaab to offer the drawings instead of him.
When they arrived at their hotel in Auerbach, Stemmler showed Schaab the documents, including one or two original blueprints of gas centrifuge components. There was also a drawing of a multi-tube, or "supercritical," carbon-fiber centrifuge with a drawing of a bellows, which is a critical component in Urenco-type supercritical centrifuges.
He asked Stemmler where these drawings came from. He responded that Schaab should be able to imagine that himself. The drawings had the stamp of Uranit, which is the German Urenco company; MAN subcontracted with Uranit to make gas centrifuges. Because Stemmler had access to all departments at MAN and also had good relations with Uranit, Schaab thought that one of the two firms was the original source. However, Schaab claimed that Stemmler never told him the source of the documents.
Schaab agreed to try to sell the documents to the Iraqis. Stemmler suggested a price of 50,000 to 150,000 DM. In a surprising move, Schaab said that Stemmler said he wanted to have 20 percent for himself, and that the rest was for Schaab. Stemmler seemed sure that the Iraqis wanted the drawings, and that they were willing to pay.
That night, four Iraqis arrived at the hotel, including Ubeidy and Ali. The Iraqis discussed with Stemmler their questions about a mechanical test stand. A senior Iraqi said that he had soon to compile a design and order the parts, but needed more information from Stemmler before he could finalize the design.
They spoke again about the air stand. Schaab helped by drawing some sketches to illustrate Stemmler's technical explanations.
In the course of the meetings, Stemmler said that Schaab had documents which could be interesting. Schaab then went to get the documents and showed them to the Iraqis.
Contrary to what Stemmler had anticipated, the Iraqis didn't show a big interest in these drawings, Schaab said. Later, Schaab returned the documents to Stemmler, and they returned home together.
Two of the Iraqi participants in that meeting tell a slightly different version. They said that after examining the documents, they wanted to purchase them. But they said they needed time to negotiate a purchase price.
In late September or early October 1989, Ali telephoned Schaab and asked to meet in Vienna. The centrifuge team wanted to discuss again the drawings that they had seen in Auerbach. The actual date when the transfer occurred is not known. The Iraqis have stated that it occurred in August 1989; Schaab says late September or early October 1989. With no way to determine the date precisely, Schaab's date is judged accurate.
After the telephone call, Schaab contacted Stemmler. Schaab told Stemmler he had a "bad feeling about bringing these documents across the border." It appeared too unsafe, he added.
Schaab explained that Stemmler wanted to sell those documents to Iraq, and Schaab did not want to risk being caught with the documents if he was searched and questioned. Stemmler responded that he was permitted to have these documents, because he had invented the components described in them. Thus, he said he was the intellectual father and co-owner of these documents. Nonetheless, in light of Schaab's reservations, Stemmler brought the documents to Vienna.
Stemmler drove to Vienna, and he placed the documents in a safe, or locker, at a main train station. He met Schaab at the airport and gave him the key to the locker. Schaab took a taxi to the train station, retrieved the documents, and took them to a Sheraton hotel, where he met the Iraqis, including Ubeidy.
The Iraqis examined the documents and asked the price. A bit unsure, Schaab said he wanted 150,000 DM. The Iraqis said they would pay only 60,000 DM. After further negotiations, both sides agreed on 100,000 DM.
Among the drawings were in particular:
A drawing of an upper rotor end cap of a gas centrifuge complete with associated parts list with material designations;
A drawing of a ring magnet;
A drawing of a rotor magnet ready for installation;
A drawing of an outer casing with openings for a measuring sensor;
A drawing of a molecular pump inserted in the upper part of the outer casing;
Three drawings depicting carbon fiber tubes of different lengths;
A drawing of a bellows;
A drawing of a baffle;
Individual drawings of parts pertaining to the feed and extraction system for the process gas, including scoops;
Upper and lower outer casing lids; and
Although Iraq was mostly focusing on the one-rotor subcritical centrifuge design, the documents were nonetheless useful to Iraq's gas centrifuge program. Some of the drawings were of components that could be used in a subcritical centrifuge. In addition, after receiving the documents, Iraq redesigned some of its centrifuge buildings to hold the 3-meter machines, anticipating that it would eventually build them.
Despite the September agreement, Schaab said he did not make the carbon fiber rotors under the agreed schedule. In mid-November 1989, while on vacation in Cyprus, Iraq called and asked him to come to Baghdad. Although displeased to interrupt his vacation, he nonetheless traveled to Iraq. When he arrived, the Iraqis asked that he finally produce carbon-fiber rotor tubes.
Schaab also discussed supplying a press to insert the upper and lower end caps into a carbon fiber tube. He also explained the process of gluing the end caps into the tube.
At the end of the visit, he agreed to provide the equipment that could be attached to a balancing machine to hold centrifuge rotors. The Iraqis provided a drawing of two special "chucks" that would be used to hold the end caps of the rotor while it was in the balancing machine. Schaab ordered the chucks from another German company, and the Iraqis later picked them up at Rosch.
After returning to Germany, Schaab said he started producing a couple of sample carbon fiber tubes to determine the winding program and see if he could manufacture the tubes precisely. In January 1990, Stemmler and two Iraqis came to Rosch to pick up these tubes.
Approximately three or four days later, the Iraqis came back with changes in the winding pattern. The Iraqis asked Schaab to produce 15 such tubes. He produced 16 tubes that matched the Iraqi specifications. The Iraqis picked up these tubes at Rosch and put them into the trunk of their car.
Schaab convinced himself that the Iraqis wanted to pick up the rotors themselves because the rotors were too fragile to ship commercially. Schaab was not told anything about the transport route of the rotors he made, and he apparently did not want to know. He said that the Iraqis picked up the rotors from Rosch, "without my knowing where they would be taken." This arrangement permitted Schaab to state that Rosch did not export the carbon fiber rotors.
According to a trip report by Schaab found by German prosecutors at Rosch during a raid in the early 1990s, he visited Iraq in early January 1990. This trip, however, is not included in Schaab's 1999 court statement. On this trip, according to this report, he wrote that he notified IPC that he was denied an export license for the armored cars. He also said that on this trip he established a contract with the Iraqi Scientific Company (ISC) for the delivery of "transport palettes" or "isolation plates with a layer of electrostatic discharging material." These items have not been identified, but Rosch shipped them about one month later and charged ISC 79,000 DM against a letter of credit. Identifying this item is complicated because this and the other trip reports found during the raid were intended to provide a partial report of Schaab's activities in Iraq and hide his assistance to Iraq's gas centrifuge program.
In early 1990, an Iraqi centrifuge expert called Schaab from Switzerland. He said he did not have a visa for Germany, so he asked Schaab to come to Kreutzlingen, Switzerland where the Swiss company Alwo is located (see section "winding machine"). During this visit, the Iraqi explained that the layer structure of the carbon-fiber rotors had to be changed again, because of their new calculations. Iraq asked Schaab to make 20 more rotors, bringing the total to 38 tubes.
Iraq said that the rotors provided initially were not sufficiently balanced, according to their own examination of them in the balancing machine obtained from Reutlinger. The Iraqi experts conducted calculations to determine a new design that would be stronger. After making his own calculations, Schaab concluded that this thicker design was better. Iraq also picked up these rotors at Rosch.
On this trip, Schaab received an offer to wind 20 carbon-fiber rings, which would encircle and strengthen the baffles of a centrifuge. The Iraqis picked up the 20 carbon-fiber rings at Rosch in March 1990. They also asked Schaab to reinforce ring magnets with carbon-fiber. They provided the data necessary for the latter order, including the fiber-type and the measurements of the ring magnets.
Schaab's last known trip to Iraq was from April 8-25, 1990. In his court statement, Schaab said that near the end of his trip, he put together the air stand and assembled the rotor for use in the vacuum mechanical test stand. Rosch had sent the air stand to Iraq several months earlier by a forwarding agent. Schaab said that he declared this shipment truthfully, although he did not declare the shipment as an air stand for a gas centrifuge research program. Instead, he said the air stand was "broken down into its components and declared for shipment as follows: steel shafts, steel rings, steel plates, cradles, measurement recorder, motor with disk-shaped rotor, direct current supply, collar chucks, tachometer, and control cabinet." Only a "real insider," he added, could have figured out that the shipment was a disassembled air stand.
During the last three evenings of this trip, Schaab said he was picked up at his hotel and taken to a building about one half hour from his hotel. It was likely Rashdiya, as Iraq claims. Schaab claimed that the building was a university laboratory.
Schaab said that this building was the first laboratory he saw in Iraq. He was taken into a room with equipment that corresponded to a laboratory-scale operation. In the same room there was a press that was evidently not supplied by him, although he said he did provide the fixtures for pressing end caps into tubes (see below). There also was the set of chucks, which he had delivered to Iraq, and a frequency converter.
The air stand that he had delivered was in that room, but still in its original packaging. The Iraqis asked him to put together the air stand. Schaab said he was happy to do so because he believed that the client should receive a fully working tool. After assembling the air stand, it worked according to specifications.
Next, he pressed a ring magnet into one of his carbon-fiber rings. Together with the Iraqis, he glued and pressed (with the press-machine) the lower and upper maraging steel end caps into a carbon fiber tube. In order to harden the glue, the rotor was put in a laboratory oven for 12 hours. On this occasion, he was told that the end caps had been manufactured at Schaublin.
The next evening he screwed a ring magnet into the tube's upper end cap, which he had glued to the tube the previous night, and the needle with its ball into the bottom end cap. With this rotor assembly, the first simple experiments were done on the air stand.
That same evening, the Iraqis took Schaab to an adjacent room and showed him their mechanical test stand that they had obviously constructed and built themselves. Schaab judged that it had been poorly constructed. Earlier, Stemmler and he had faxed the Iraqis an offer to make a test stand, but the Iraqis did not accept their offer. He said, however, that this vacuum stand did use the design supplied by Stemmler and himself and sent to Iraq by facsimile under the September 1989 agreement.
Together with the Iraqis, he put the rotor from the air stand into the mechanical stand. This stand consisted of a steel outer casing, which did not have a molecular pump. The addition of a molecular pump would likely have made the stand suitable for uranium separation experiments. With the Iraqi stand, it was only possible to run the motor mechanically up to a certain speed. Despite the test stand's major failings, particularly in its ability to hold a vacuum, the Iraqis were obviously proud of their achievement, Schaab noted.
The next evening they tried to operate the test stand. But the vacuum was still insufficient to bring the rotor up to its desired speed. The vacuum broke down when only half of the desired speed was reached, probably because the friction was too high. The stand may have worked if there were a molecular pump, Schaab noted.
Finally, the experiment had to be stopped, but the machine was turned off so abruptly that the rotor was damaged. Further experiments were not done in his presence, he said.
Schaab also discussed other projects with the Iraqis on this visit. In a trip report found on the premises of Rosch during a raid by German investigators in the early 1990s, Schaab wrote about a set of meetings in IPC's offices in Baghdad where he discussed the supply of a "diamond-disk" cutting machine with the Iraqis. The stated purpose was cutting "fiber-glass reinforced glass plates." Schaab had received the initial data about the machine by telephone in March. Because Rosch could not make the machine, Schaab had collected bids from other companies in Germany, including one for 750,000 DM. After doubling the price to the Iraqis to cover development and construction costs, he presented his offer to the Iraqis. The Iraqis posed many questions about the system, raising questions in Schaab's mind whether the Iraqis would agree to purchase it.
The true end use of the cutting machine is unknown, although it could have been to cut carbon fiber rotors, a difficult process that uses a low-speed cutting machine. This trip report is believed to have been written by Schaab to present a false or incomplete picture of what he did in Iraq. Although the discussions about such a cutting machine likely happened, the true end use is not believed to have been stated correctly in this trip report.
Rosch did not receive an order from Iraq to make a carbon fiber winding machine. Instead, Iraq asked the Swiss company Alwo to manufacture the winding machine. Iraq said that it placed the order with Alwo in September 1989. IPC established a letter of credit on September 21, 1989 for 669,207 Swiss francs with Alwo.
Schaab said Hinze told him about the deal, which annoyed Schaab. Nonetheless, Schaab agreed to assist. At some point, Mr. Albrecht, the director of Alwo, visited Schaab with two colleagues and a draftsman from an engineering office known to Schaab. Schaab gave them extensive information about the mechanical and control equipment of the winding machine. The assistance was sufficient to convince the Iraqi centrifuge experts that Schaab designed the machine.
Schaab also provided special equipment in which the fiber is impregnated with resin right before it is wound on the machine. The construction of the machine was delayed for months. Alwo had difficulty obtaining a German license for the export of a Siemens CNC controller for the winding machine.
The contract for the machine included a training session and the production of 50 cylinders after the machine was running. Schaab was responsible for training, which he said was expected to occur at Rosch and take months.
Schaab also was going to program the machine in Iraq after it was installed. He would have punched the code into the machine himself. He said the process is difficult and could have taken as long as a month to finish. He said the controller of the machine did not have a slot for a disc or CD, so he would have had to do the programming on-site.
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the subsequent U.N. embargo on Iraq prevented the delivery of the winding machine to Iraq. In response, the centrifuge program decided to have Alwo send the winding machine to the Mitramas company in Singapore that served as a procurement front company for Iraq. The Iraqis said that they had earlier expanded their procurement network to Singapore to reduce suspicions about direct exports from Europe to Iraq. They believed that Singapore customs were more amenable to exports from Singapore to Jordon or Iraq. After the establishment of the U.N. embargo, Mitramas became critical to the centrifuge program's smuggling efforts.
According to Schaab, Alwo was taken by surprise by the embargo against Iraq and immediately faced financial difficulties because it could not receive payment from Iraq until it delivered the winding machine. In addition, Albrecht told Schaab that he had successfully contacted Ali, who agreed to take the winding machine but only if he also got an oven in which the resin-impregnated tube could be dried or "hardened." Albrecht, who didn't have the necessary knowledge to build such an oven, turned to Schaab for help in getting "out of a difficult situation." Schaab promised to help him.
Schaab and Albrecht travelled to Singapore in September 1990, where they met Ali and other Iraqis. Ali introduced them to Mr. Kong, a director of Mitramas. Alwo agreed to deliver the winding machine to Singapore, and Schaab agreed to send the oven to Singapore, as well.
Schaab said that the offer to build the oven came from Mitramas. For payment, a letter of credit was opened at the German Dresdener Bank. He then arranged to build the oven and to send it via carrier to Singapore.
Schaab said that in Singapore they discussed training on winding rotors. He denies he ever intended to conduct training in Iraq or elsewhere after the imposition of the embargo.
However, in an undated letter in German to Schaab from Allak, Ali's code name, Allak wrote that he will soon arrange payment for the tuition of the training program and the balance due for previous services. Both payments will be transferred to an account in Austria, he wrote. He added that the centrifuge program urgently needed 150 copper-beryllium pieces [cup of bottom bearing] of the same quality as Schaab "gave to us in the Far East, and you will soon be notified where to send them." The letter ends with Allak asking for Schaab to "let us know when the training course is scheduled to begin in order for us to take the necessary measures." He requested that Schaab send the information about the training program to "our friends in F.O. in order that they might quickly forward it to us." F.O. possibly refers to the German expression "Fern Ost," or Far East, and Mitramas in Singapore.
Iraqi centrifuge officials said that they expected the training to occur in Austria or South America. However, the Iraqi statements have not been entirely consistent, implying that the actual training may have been planned for elsewhere.
Hinze or Huetten are not believed to have been involved in this transaction. Hinze said he viewed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait as a major mistake and sufficient grounds for canceling its partnership with Iraq. [For more information, click here]
From Singapore, Iraq sent the winder and associated equipment to Jordan, where it was held because of the embargo. In 1995, the IAEA Action Team, charged by the UN Security Council to conduct nuclear inspections in Iraq, learned of the winding machine and later located it in a warehouse in Amman, where it had remained after it arrived in Jordan.
Taking Stock of What Schaab Provided
Schaab provided substantial assistance to the Iraqi gas centrifuge program. As in the case of the assistance by Stemmler and Busse, Schaab's aid dramatically shortened the time Iraq would have needed to successfully operate a gas centrifuge plant to make weapon-grade uranium for nuclear weapons.
During his meetings with the Iraqis in Europe and Baghdad, Schaab's technical advice and insights were invaluable. He was available to discuss Iraqi concerns and spot problems in their program. Much of his assistance was not available to the Iraqis from elsewhere.
He provided many classified documents to the Iraqi program. Between Stemmler and Schaab, Iraq received over 150 classified technical centrifuge reports, general assembly drawings, and component drawings. Some of the reports contained detailed information about manufacturing and operating centrifuges. They also contained classified information about some of the most advanced Urenco centrifuges.
Schaab assisted the Iraqis directly by assembling centrifuge components and some of their test equipment, such as the air stand and preparing a rotor for use in a mechanical test stand. Senior Iraqis were impressed with his ability to balance a rotor by just adjusting the bottom pin on the rotor.
He provided several centrifuge components, test equipment, and other items to the gas centrifuge program. These items include:
A high precision machine to perform preliminary balancing of a rotor. It can spin the rotor up to 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm);
A hydraulic device with a complicated measuring device that simulates the centrifugal forces encountered during the high speed spinning of the magnet inside the centrifuge. The Iraqis were encountering many failures in their AlNiCo ring magnets and the machine allowed them to test the ring magnets outside the centrifuge test stand.
An air stand;
Aluminum rings and other equipment used to press the end caps into the carbon fiber tube. This work must be done carefully to avoid damaging the end caps or tube;
Carbon fiber rings for baffles. These type of baffles, which can be as simple as an aluminum disk with carbon fiber wound around it, are relatively easy to make and are easier to use with a carbon fiber rotor;
Measuring devices, such as equipment to measure rotational velocity and distance and an oscilloscope;
38 carbon fiber rotors;
Hand press to put together the ball and pin of a bottom bearing;
A welding table and hood;
Two steel chucks (diameter 200 millimeters) that Rosch ordered from another firm that were used in the balancing machine to hold the end caps;
About 20-40 needles for the bottom bearing where the ball was welded to the pin. Although Schaab first declined to do this operation when asked by Stemmler, he later did so.
Cups for the bottom bearing made from copper-beryllium metal (diameter about 10 millimeters)
Schaab believed the Iraqis often over-specified what they needed in a component. If a tolerance in length of + 0.1 was acceptable, they would ask for + 0.01. He believed that they did this because of a misguided belief that being more accurate would enhance the chance of success. In fact, according to Schaab, many of their orders for parts were nearly impossible to fulfill. Manufacturing such items on a large scale was extremely difficult.
He often felt he had to confront the Iraqis and "put them back on the right level." When this happened, the Iraqis often became nervous and aggressive. He reckoned that they were afraid of their top management. Because of the Iraqi attitudes, Schaab felt that his relationship was strained with his Iraqi colleagues.
Schaab believed that Iraq had knowledgeable people who had studied in the United States and Europe. The Iraqis in general knew what they wanted in the gas centrifuge program, but they lacked the people to take their more theoretical knowledge and make the desired object. They were missing the middle level of technicians and experts between the senior project leader with the knowledge of what is needed and the operator of the machine. That person could translate a design into a set of machining steps. One of the reasons Schaab was important to the Iraqis was that he could be that middle person in addition to being the man at the machine.
The Iraqis stated that Schaab bought large quantities of carbon fiber (type T300 and M40) for them, but he denies he did so. Schaab knows who bought the carbon fiber, but he declined to provide the person's name.
Several Outstanding issues
Several issues concerning Schaab's role remain unresolved. A further discussion, however, can illuminate the difficulties of determining the truth in this complicated case.
"Stemmler" was the Source of Classified Information Stemmler is typically named as providing the bulk of the classified centrifuge documents to the Iraqis. He certainly did provide most documents. However, he may not have provided all of the classified documents attributed to him. Because he has been dead since about 1995, he is a convenient scapegoat.
Suspicion remains that another employee of MAN provided documents to Schaab. In one case, Schaab asked Stemmler for some information, and Stemmler said he could not get access to it. Schaab then reportedly asked a friend at MAN for that set of documents or drawings. The method of transfer of these documents was the same as stated by Iraq or others, but the source was not Stemmler, as stated. This person is not thought to have gone to Iraq, although he may have met the Iraqis at Rosch.
Schaab denies that there is another person. In any case, he is unlikely to cooperate because of fear of exposing a friend to a criminal investigation. He is also known to be loyal.
Bellows Iraq stated that, in October 1989, Schaab provided three sample bellows and at the same time offered to provide bellows-manufacturing equipment and know-how. Schaab repeated the latter offer in January 1990, according to Adel. Iraq also stated he offered to involve a "friend" who could assist in providing specific bellows know-how.
The Iraqis were impressed by Schaab's ability to sell them technology. Adel said that Schaab brought the bellows on the next visit after providing the 3-meter centrifuge design in Vienna. This design requires bellows, and his offer excited the Iraqis. They said Schaab knew how to time his offers and get money from them. Schaab denies all this.
Stemmler may have been the one who acquired three bellows from MAN and sold them to Iraq either directly or indirectly through a third person. Urenco bellows are highly classified and subject to special protection. Nonetheless, Stemmler would have had access to these highly sensitive components and could have removed them secretly, according to a former colleague at MAN. Several former MAN employees have stated that taking reject bellows from MAN would not have been that difficult, particularly in the 1970s.
Another Bank Account Suspicions remain that Iraq gave Schaab more money than what he said he received. Documents found in Iraq contain quotations to Rosch for equipment, parts, and personal services totaling 2.5 million DM. In the end, however, some of these items totaling one million DM were not provided by Schaab. In addition, he did not receive much of the fee for the assembly of the winding machine, which was quoted at 350,000 DM in these documents. However, other items not found on this list were provided by Schaab. Thus, the question remains whether Schaab received more money than he stated after his arrest.
Schaab said Rosch received only about one million DM. Company records support this conclusion. These funds were received through a series of letters of credit issued between July 1989 and January 1990.
Additional funds could have been deposited to other accounts. Schaab had an account in Austria. Ali, under the code name Allak, wrote in the letter mentioned above that he would deposit money into an Austrian account. Thus, funds in this account could have gone directly to Schaab.
Schaab, however, stated in the German prosecutor's deposition that this account was used to transfer money from Iraq to specific Iraqis in Europe. Although he established the account and had exclusive control over it, he said the money was not for him, except to cover his travel costs to Vienna. Schaab said that the account had a single purpose. Iraq at irregular intervals would transfer funds into the account in increments of about 50,000 DM up to a total of about 150,000-180,000 DM. Schaab would pick up the money in Vienna and take it to a certain Iraqi in Germany who Ali called his cousin. According to Schaab, the funds were used to provide commissions to Iraqis, such as Ali, and to cover other Iraqi expenses in Europe.
Schaab is reported to have had a secret bank account in Switzerland. Iraq may have paid Schaab through direct deposits into this account. Because of Swiss banking laws at the time, the bank did not reveal any information about this account.
Did Iraq Learn to Wind Carbon Fiber Rotors? In the September 1989 minutes between Schaab and the Iraqis, Schaab agreed to allow an Iraqi engineer to be present at Rosch to assist in the production of carbon fiber rotors and acquire the technology. Although Schaab admits he planned to train Iraqis in winding carbon fiber rotors, he denies he did any training.