LONDON (Apr. 18)
A British arms expert has cast doubt on allegations that steel tubing seized by customs officials were intended by Iraq for a “super-cannon” that could hurl chemical or nuclear projectiles at Israel.
The giant sections of reinforced steel tubes were confiscated at Middlesbrough in northeast England before they could be loaded aboard a ship for Iraq.
The British manufacturers and Iraqi authorities insisted they were for an oil pipeline. But some experts said they were the smooth-bore barrels of a huge artillery piece.
Henry Dodds of the authoritative Jane’s Defense Weekly says that although a long-range artillery project is feasible, he is not 100 percent certain that is what the steel tubes are for.
According to Dodds, their most likely use would be to place a satellite into orbit at low cost.
He said he doubted long-range artillery was intended, because a shell fired to a distance of 300 miles would have to reach very high altitudes.
Given such variables as air temperature, humidity and the Earth’s rotation, it is not likely to be very accurate, Dodds explained.