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Profile: Joe T.


Positions that Joe T. has held:




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Joe T. actively participated in the following events:


Early 1980s      Complete Iraq timeline

       At this time, an engineer named “Joe T.,” is working in the gas centrifuge program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work pertains not to actual centrifuges, but to the platforms upon which the centrifuges are installed. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

(1999)      Complete Iraq timeline

       Joe T. begins working in the Winpac unit of the CIA, which analyzes intelligence related to dual-use technology and export controls. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03; New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

2000      Complete Iraq timeline

       US intelligence learns from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) that Iraq has made arrangements to purchase tubes, made of 7075-T6 aluminum, from China through Garry Cordukes, the director of the Australian company International Aluminum Supply. The company is associated with Kam Kiu Propriety Limited, a subsidiary of the Chinese company that will manufacture the aluminum tubes. Concerned that the tubes may be related to Iraqi efforts to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, an Australian intelligence agent contacts Cordukes to obtain a sample of the tubes for examination. A CIA agent, Joe T., is said to have played a significant part in this discovery. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

(Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001      Complete Iraq timeline

       Almost immediately after Joe T.'s theory is circulated through US intelligence and science circles, a team of centrifuge physicists at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other similar institutions review the case. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; Australian Broadcasting Corporation; New York Times, 10/3/2004] The team includes Dr. Jon A. Kreykes, head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group; Dr. Duane F. Starr, an expert on nuclear proliferation threats; and Dr. Edward Von Halle, a retired Oak Ridge nuclear expert. They are advised by Dr. Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on centrifuges, and Dr. Gernot Zippe, one of the German scientists who developed an early uranium centrifuge in the 1950s (see 1950s). On August 17, the team publishes a classified Technical Intelligence Note which details why they believe the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were not intended for use in a gas centrifuge. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
The tubes sought by Iraq are very different from tubes Iraq used previously in its centrifuge prototypes before the first Gulf War. The intercepted aluminum tubes are significantly longer and narrower. [Washington Post, 8/10/03; New York Times, 10/3/2004]
Aluminum has not been used in gas centrifuges since the 1950s (see After the 1950s). Furthermore, Iraq is known to have had the blueprints for a more efficient centrifuge, which used maraging steel and carbon fiber, not aluminum (see (Late 1980s)). [Washington Post, 8/10/03] “Aluminum was a huge step backwards,” Dr. Houston Wood will later explain to the New York Times. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
There are no known centrifuge machines “deployed in a production environment” that use tubes with such a small diameter. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
The tubes' walls, measuring 3.3 millimeters, are three times too thick for “favorable use” in a “Zippe-type” centrifuge, which requires tubes with a thickness of no more than 1.1 millimeter. [New York Times, 10/3/2004; Washington Post, 8/10/03]
The tubes are anodized, which is “not consistent” with a uranium centrifuge because the anodized coating can react with uranium gas. [New York Times, 10/3/2004] Houston G. Wood later tells The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03] Though the scientists' report concludes that “rocket production is the much more likely end use for these tubes,” [New York Times, 10/3/2004] Joe T. sticks with his theory. His position is backed by CIA director George Tenet. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Joe T., Gernot Zippe, Houston G. Wood III, Edward Von Halle, Jon A. Kreykes, Duane F. Starr

April 10, 2001      Complete Iraq timeline

       A classified intelligence report, based primarily on the work of junior CIA analyst Joe T., concludes that the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes sought by Iraq from China (see 2000)“have little use other than for a uranium enrichment program.” The report is passed on to the White House. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

July 2001      Complete Iraq timeline

       The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obtains a few samples of the 7075-T6 aluminum tubes that were seized by the CIA and Jordanian secret service. They examine the tubes and initially are quite skeptical that the Iraqis intended to use them as rotors in a gas centrifuge. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] Later this month, CIA agent Joe T. flies to Vienna and presents his case to the IAEA. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation; New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Andrew Wilkie, Jacques Bautes] But experts at the agency disagree with his conclusions and explain to him why the believe his analysis is wrong. “They pointed out errors in his calculations. They noted design discrepancies,” an unnamed senior US official will later tell the New York Times. [New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed US official] David Albright, a physicist and former weapons inspector, who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, similarly explains to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “The view in Vienna in the summer of 2001 was ‘Maybe this guy has a clever idea, but he really is just grabbing at almost straws to prove his case, and when he's debunked in one model, he then shifts it and tries to make his information fit another centrifuge model.’ And yet whenever you confronted him with the facts or the weaknesses in argument, he always came back with the same answer— ‘It's only for centrifuges.’ ” When Joe T. returns to Washington, he tells his superiors at the CIA that the IAEA agrees with his theory. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] But according to an unnamed senior US official, scientists at the IAEA send a summary of their views on the tubes to the US government. [New York Times, 10/3/2004 Sources: Unnamed US official]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

Fall 2001      Complete Iraq timeline

       Joe T., an analyst for the CIA, gives a presentation in Room 6526 of the State Department's Office of Strategic Proliferation on his theory that a confiscated shipment of 7075-T6 aluminum tubes destined for Iraq (see July 2001) had been intended for use in a gas centrifuge program. Present at the meeting is Greg Theilmann, head of the nuclear proliferation monitoring division at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, who is not at all impressed with Joe T.'s argument. “I found the presentation to be unpersuasive,” Thielmann later explains to Vanity Fair. “He seemed far more a man on a mission than an objective analyst. He had something to sell.” Also in attendance is a scientist from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory who also disagrees with Joe T.'s conclusions. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 281]
People and organizations involved: Greg Thielmann, Joe T.

(Early September 2002)      Complete Iraq timeline

       Democratic senators begin pressing for a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. They want it completed before they vote on a resolution that would authorize the use of force against Iraq. Though NIEs usually take months to prepare, US intelligence services will finish the report by the beginning of the following month (see October 1, 2002). The last NIE on Iraq had been done in 2000. [New York Times, 10/3/2004; Independent, 11/3/03]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

January 22, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       CIA agent Joe T. travels to Vienna, Austria, where he attempts to convince IAEA nuclear scientists they were wrong to conclude that the aluminum tubes imported by Iraq, but intercepted in Jordan, were not meant to be used as rotors in a centrifuge program. The thrust of his argument is that the tubes' dimensions are overly precise and that they are made of a special aluminum alloy that is “excessively strong.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence, US administration, and/or UN inspectors] But the presentation is not convincing. “Everybody was embarrassed when he came and made this presentation, embarrassed and disgusted,” one participant later recalls to the New York Times. “We were going insane, thinking, ‘Where is he coming from?’” [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
People and organizations involved: Joe T.

Between June 3, 2003 and June 17, 2003      Complete Iraq timeline

       Mahdi Obeidi is taken into custody by US Special Forces. He is released on June 17, 2003. During his detention, Obeidi is interviewed by US authorities seeking to learn more about Saddam's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. But instead of meeting with a US nuclear physicist as Obeidi expects, he is interviewed by CIA agent Joe T., the main proponent of the theory that the 81mm aluminum tubes Iraq attempted to import in July 2001 (see July 2001) had been meant for a centrifuge program. Joe's area of expertise, however, is not nuclear physics. His background relates to export controls (see Early 1980s) (see (1999)). When asked about Saddam's efforts to develop nuclear weapons, Obeidi does not tell Joe T. what he wants to hear. Instead, he tells him that Saddam abandoned the program in 1991 as the Iraqi government had claimed in its December 7 declaration to the UN. He adds that if the program had been restarted, he would have known about it. He also says that the tube shipment confiscated by the CIA in July 2001 was completely unrelated to nuclear weapons. Those tubes—with a diameter of 81mm—could not have been used in the gas centrifuge designed by Obeidi, which specified tubes with a 145mm diameter. “The physics of a centrifuge would not permit a simple substitution of aluminum tubes for the maraging steel and carbon fiber designs used by Obeidi,” The Washington Post will later report. Obeidi and his family will later move to a CIA safe house in Kuwait. [Washington Post, 10/18/03; Newsweek, 8/8/03 Sources: David Albright] At the end of the summer, he will receive permission to move to an East Coast suburb on the basis of Public Law 110 , which allows “those who help the United States by providing valuable intelligence information” to resettle in the US. [CIA, 11/02/03 Sources: David Kay]
People and organizations involved: Joe T., Mahdi Obeidi

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