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  Stealing the fire  
  A Mercenary Prometheus Serving Iraq`s Nuclear Ambitions  
  A Mercenary Prometheus Serving Iraq`s Nuclear Ambitions - Dieser Artikel steht auch als PDF zur Verfügung
  World set free
05.Dezember 2002

  Access of Evil
Jon Dolan, 16./22.OKtober 2002


  A Mercenary Prometheus Serving Iraq`s Nuclear Ambitions

By Dave Kehr

  The central figure in "Stealing the Fire," a video documentary by Jonh S. Friedman an Eric Nadler that opens today at the Cinema Village, is one Karl-Heinz Schaab, a deceptivley drab German technocrat whose only discernable character trait ia a weakness for bad wigs.
Mr. Schaab ia a colorless man who says little and reveals less. In a Munich court in 1999 he was convicted of selling German nuclear technology to Iraq: specifically, appropriating the secret plans for an array of centrifuges used to produce weapons-grade uranium.
The filmmakers attempt to follow Mr. Schaab`s trail in Iraq, where he met with Khidhir Hamza, the former director of Saddam Hussein`s nuclear project (who has since defected, and is interviewed in the film) and in Brazil, where, the filmmakers say, he was involved in a plan to build a Brazilian nuclear submarine.
Most of Mr. Schaab`s story is told through his defense lawyers. As the film cuts back an forth among Rio de Janeiro, Munich and Baghdad, with side trips to zurich and elsewhere, it takes on the the exotic coloration of a postwar espionage thriller, something the novelist Eric Ambler might have conceived on a tramp steamer crossing the Black Sea.
Adding a bitter paradox is that the centrifuge technology was first developed by scientists working for the third Reich`s atomic bomb project. Several of those scientist went on to work for the Soviets, the Americans or both during the cold war. The Nazis` corporate partner in their atom program was Degussa, a multinational corporation that continues, the filmmakers say, to peddle atomic technology to governments like those of the Iraq an Pakistan. Degussa`s corporate history, the film says, includes a contract with the SS to process the gold and silver fillings taken from the death camp inmates, as well to manufacture Zyklon B, the gas used many of them. The material is disparate and wide ranging, and it is often difficult to follow Mr. Friedman and Mr. Nadler down all the side streets and back alleys of their investigation. Their credibility is not helped by the corny rhetorical devices running throuh the film, including exaggratedly low camera angles out of "The Tird Man,"goofy digital stopmotion effects and a percussive score that casts an aura of "Our Man Flint" over the proceedings. But the original reporting at the heart of "Stealing the Fire" provokes questions that demand further investigation.