Triggers 'not vital to Iraq'

LAWYERS representing two people jailed for trying to export nuclear triggers to Iraq say that United Nations inspectors have proof the devices could not have been used in Saddam Hussein's atomic weapons programme.

Inspections by UN teams conducted in Iraq since the sentencing of Ali Daghir and Jean Speckman, executives of Euromac, a Surrey-based import company, indicate that the 'triggers' did not feature in evidence gathered from the nuclear programme, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday.

Daghir was jailed for five years in June 1991 as a result of a British and American Customs and Excise operation which followed his attempts to buy 40 electrical capacitors for an Iraqi company. Customs alleged that the capacitors were for use in a nuclear weapon but Daghir and several expert witnesses said they could be used in a range of everyday electrical products.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, representing Daghir, successfully asked for funds to send Dr John Hassard, professor of nuclear physics at Imperial College, London, to Vienna to interview Professor Maurizio Zifferero, head of the UN inspection team in Iraq.

'We understand from Mr Zifferero's earlier report (to the UN) that the Iraqi nuclear programme is one in which these capacitors could have played no part whatsoever,' he said.

Mr Robertson estimated that it would be October before the appeal could be heard.

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