German Gave Key Bomb DetailsTo Iraq, Atomic Agency Reports

VIENNA -- A German nuclear scientist supplied Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with key details on uranium enrichment, central to Baghdad's secret bid to build a nuclear bomb, a UN atomic agency official said Thursday.

"Uranium enrichment was at the very heart of the secret bomb program," an official of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, said. "He passed on information about enriching uranium through the centrifuge," the official added in response to questions.

The agency uncovered fresh information about the German, who was not named, while studying papers yielded by the Iraqis following the defection of Hussein Kamel Hassam, Saddam's son-in-law, to Jordan last August. Hassam had directed Baghdad's plans to build weapons of mass destruction.

Evidence against the German was supplied in a secret IAEA report to the UN Security Council earlier this month.

"We have a lot of new evidence, which we have also passed on to the [state prosecutor's office] in Karlsruhe," the IAEA official said Thursday. A diplomatic source said the German scientist had been the subject of an investigation in 1991 but prosecutors did not have enough evidence against him.

"German authorities know who he is. He is not currently in Germany, but they also know where he is," the source said.

Germany's Bild newspaper said Thursday the engineer was a specialist in nuclear centrifuge systems to enrich uranium and had spied for Iraq.

German prosecutors declined to confirm if they had issued an arrest warrant for the engineer on treason charges.

Bild said the expert came from Kaufbeuren in southwest Germany and had worked at the German-Dutch company URENCO that manufactured the technology to enrich uranium.

During the Gulf War, more than a dozen German companies were investigated for equipping Iraq with technology for its nuclear program and weapons production.