Kalroy Was Here

Eighth man from Adam, an artificer of metals

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Aluminum Tubes and Iraq

I was reading a thingy at spinsanity about the justifications given for the war on Iraq. The aluminum tubes thing came up and they went with the IAEA’s take on it. Now I doubt el Baradei would know a machine tool if it bit him on the ass, but reading some of the stuff at spinsanity I would’ve expected better of them.

"Specifically, the tubes are the wrong size for uranium enrichment and the IAEA has secured extensive documentation proving that Iraq has been trying for years to purchase such tubes for use in artillery rockets."

Here’s the problem with that, any journeyman machinist with a decent conventional lathe could cut one down to dimensions with a tolerance of +/- 1/10,000th of an inch. An extremely good CNC machine could get tolerances in the millionth of an inch; we’re basically talking about getting it to a ‘finish’ state. This was pointed out by Colin Powell when he addressed the UN, but I hardly ever see that pointed out. Heck, I could get better than +/- .0001 with a 1950’s Cincinati. But then I learned my trade in aerospace and showing off in that way was pretty normal for us. Things like getting parts to less than a ‘tenth’ and welding aluminum cans or stainless foil were usually good for a beer, peer recognition and simple blue-collar fun.