Summary of claims
UK dossier, 24
September 2002, p.18: "In the first half of 2000 the JIC noted
intelligence on Iraqi attempts to procure dual-use chemicals and on the
reconstruction of civil chemical production at sites formerly associated
with the chemical warfare programme."
Key post-war readings: Bob Drogin, "The
Vanishing", The New Republic,14 July 2003: includes detailed
interviews with four Iraqi officials involved in activities relating to
chemical weapons facilities before and after 1991.
(a) Existing chemical weapons
Department, 12 September 2002, p.9: "Gaps identified by UNSCOM
in Iraqi accounting and current production capabilities strongly suggest
that Iraq maintains stockpiles of chemical agents, probably VX, sarin,
cyclosarin and mustard."
October 2002, p.10: "More than 10 years after the Gulf war,
gaps in Iraqi accounting and current production capabilities strongly
suggest that Iraq maintains a stockpile of chemical agents, probably
VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard. [...] Iraq probably has stocked
at least 100 metric tons (MT) and possibly as much as 500 MT of CW
dossier, 24 September 2002, p.18: "In mid-2001 the
JIC assessed that Iraq retained some chemical warfare agents [...]
and weapons from before the Gulf War."
of Defense, 8 October 2002: 200 metric tons of VX, 200 metric
tons of G-Agents (sarin) and 200 metric tons of mustard are unaccounted
dossier, 24 September 2002, p.19: "Iraq has admitted
to UNSCOM to having the knowledge and capability to add stabiliser
to nerve agent and other chemical warfare agents which would prevent
such decomposition. In 1997 UNSCOM also examined some munitions which
had been filled with mustard gas prior to 1991 and found that they
remained very toxic and showed little sign of deterioration."
Evaluation. It should be noted firstly that the UK and
US have never claimed that Iraq continued to produce chemical
or biological weapons in the period of UNSCOM inspections, between
1991 and 1998 (although they do claim that infrastructure and
equipment for the production of non-conventional weapons was
developed). As a result, a stockpile of existing weapons must
consist of those produced prior to 1991, or after 1998. Any
material produced after 1998 is discussed below, in the sections
Up to 1998, a substantial part of the work of the weapons inspectors
in Iraq was to track down chemical and biological agents that
Iraq had produced before their entry in 1991, and to check the
documentation that showed how much of each agent Iraq had manufactured.
However, the amount Iraq is thought to have produced in the
1980s was found to be greater than the quantity that Iraq or
the inspectors verified as having destroyed. The discrepancy
between the two levels is the amount that remains - in the inspectors'
language - "unaccounted for".
The levels of agents that are unaccounted for in this way is
large, as many of the US and UK claims above rightly identify.
But the fact that these quantities are unaccounted for does
not mean that they still exist. Iraq has never provided a full
declaration of its use of chemical weapons against Iran in the
1980-88 war, and it claims to have destroyed large quantities
of its own stocks of these weapons in 1991 without keeping sufficient
proof of its actions.
It may also be the case that Iraq had in fact produced more
of these agents than they had declared to UNSCOM or that UNSCOM
itself had uncovered. This possibility is mentioned in the excerpt
below, from the CIA in October 2002.
In some cases, it is quite clear that any stocks that were
retained no longer exist in usable form. Most chemical and biological
agents are subject to processes of deterioration. A working
paper by UNSCOM from January 1998 noted that: "Taking into consideration
the conditions and the quality of CW-agents and munitions produced
by Iraq at that time, there is no possibility of weapons remaining
from the mid-1980's" (quoted
in Arms Control Today, June 2000). As discussed below,
mustard constitutes an exception to this general pattern. This
point was acknowledged by UNMOVIC in its 6 March 2003
working document, specifically about remaining warheads which
had been filled with chemical agents, but seemingly applicable
to any storage of chemical weapons:
"While 155-mm projectiles filled with Mustard could
be stored for decades, it is less likely that any remaining
warheads filled with nerve agents would still be viable combat
Disarmament Issues" (6 March 2003), p.55.
If the allegations that Iraq possessed a stockpile of illicit
weapons were to be true, then the UK and US would need to present
credible evidence that Iraq had managed to stabilise its chemical
and biological agents to a greater extent than it is previously
thought to have done. The UK dossier does not make this claim,
except as an unsubstantiated assertion that Iraq had "the knowledge
and capability to add stabiliser to nerve agent and other chemical
warfare agents which would prevent such decomposition." The
fact that this assertion falls short of the claim that Iraq
actually achieved the stabilisation of its chemical agents
can be taken as an acknowledgement that no evidence has been
discovered - after over 7 years of intrusive inspections and
11 years of intelligence gathering - to demonstrate Iraq's retention
of stabilised chemical or biological agents.
CIA, October 2002,
p.10: "UNSCOM discovered a document at Iraqi Air Force headquarters
in July 1998 showing that Iraq overstated by at least 6,000 the number
of chemical bombs it told the UN it had used during the Iran-Iraq
War - bombs that remain are unaccounted for." [sic]
Powell, 5 February 2003: "If we consider just one category
of missing weaponry -- 6,500 bombs from the Iran-Iraq war -- UNMOVIC
says the amount of chemical agent in them would be in the order of
1,000 tons. These quantities of chemical weapons are now unaccounted
Iraq provided the 6-page "Air Force" document to
UNMOVIC on 30 November 2002, as discussed in an
article in The Times of 21 December. After reviewing it,
Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, in his notes
for briefing the Security Council of 9 January 2003, stated:
"The so-called Air Force document, which was provided
separately from the Declaration, relates to the consumption
of chemical munitions in the Iraq/Iran war. It was hoped that
the submission of this document would help verify material
balances regarding special munitions. After having analysed
the document, we have concluded that it will in fact not contribute
to resolving this issue. There remains therefore, a significant
discrepancy concerning the numbers of special munitions."
Dr Blix elaborated on these comments in his update
to the Security Council on 27 January 2003:
"The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were
dropped by the Iraqi Air Force between 1983 and 1988, while
Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this
period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount
of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of
about 1,000 tonnes. In the absence of evidence to the contrary,
we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for."
Dr Blix clarified his position in his briefing
to the Security Council on 14 February 2003:
"To take an example, a document, which Iraq provided,
suggested to us that some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent were
'unaccounted for'. One must not jump to the conclusion that
More details are provided in the UNMOVIC Working Document
of 6 March 2003: "Unresolved
Disarmament Issues", p.50:
"The 'Air Force document' recently received by UNMOVIC
introduces additional uncertainty in accounting as it indicates
that 6,526 fewer aerial CW bombs (of gauges 250, 500 and DB-2
types) had been consumed during the Iraq Iran
War. Iraq has explained that the 'Air Force' document, which
had been complied [sic] by one of its officers in 1995,
was incomplete. According to Iraq, data on consumption of
CW filled munitions positioned at three airbases was not included
as the airbases had been occupied in 1991 and the records
destroyed. This explanation is being reviewed by UNMOVIC."
Of these, 450 aerial bombs contained mustard, and would still
be viable ("Unresolved
Disarmament Issues", pp.76-77). The others,
containing Sarin and Tabun, would no longer be of use (see below).
dossier, 24 September 2002, p.16: "we assess that when the
UN inspectors left Iraq they were unable to account for: up to 360
tonnes of bulk chemical warfare agent, including 1.5 tonnes of VX
Department, 19 December 2002: "In 1999, UN Special
Commission and international experts concluded that Iraq needed to
provide additional, credible information about VX production. The
[Iraqi] declaration provides no information to address these concerns.
What is the Iraqi regime trying to hide by not providing this information?"
House, January 2003, p.6: "In 1999, UN Special Commission
and international experts concluded that Iraq needed to provide additional,
credible information about VX production. UNSCOM concluded that Iraq
had not accounted for 1.5 tons of VX, a powerful nerve agent. Former
UNSCOM head Richard Butler wrote that a missile warhead of the
type Iraq has made and used can hold some 140 liters of VX [...].
A single such warhead would contain enough of the chemical to kill
up to 1 million people."
Condoleezza Rice, "Why
We Know Iraq is Lying", New York Times, 23 January
2003: "Iraq has also failed to provide United Nations inspectors
with documentation of its claim to have destroyed its VX stockpiles."
Powell, 5 February 2003: "It took years for Iraq to finally
admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent, VX.
[...] UNSCOM also gained forensic evidence that Iraq had produced
VX and put it into weapons for delivery. Yet, to this day, Iraq denies
it had ever weaponized VX. And on January 27, UNMOVIC told this council
that it has information that conflicts with the Iraqi account of its
Department, 27 February 2003: "The UN concluded that
Iraq had not accounted for 1.5 tons of the VX agent. Just one drop
is enough to kill a person."
Evaluation. Iraq attempted to produce VX nerve agent
using four different methods from 1987 to 1991. These are detailed
in UNMOVIC's working paper, "Unresolved
Disarmament Issues" (6 March 2003), pp.79-83.
Iraq declared that it produced 2.4 tonnes of VX in production
trials from late 1987 to May 1988, but that this material degraded
rapidly and was completely destroyed later in 1988. This account
has been generally accepted (ibid., pp.79-80).
Iraq also produced 1.5 tonnes according to a second method
(which UNMOVIC refer to as "route B") from April 1988
to April 1990. It is this quantity that the UK and Secretary
Powell, among others, are referring to above. However, two factors
would indicate that the 1.5 tonnes of VX nerve agent no longer
exist in operational form.
Firstly, Iraq claimed that this quantity of VX
was discarded unilaterally by dumping it on the ground. VX degrades
rapidly if placed onto concrete (see this report
of 15 November 2002). In accordance with Iraq's claim, UNSCOM
tested the site at which the VX was reportedly dumped. UNSCOM's
1999 report states in Appendix II, paragraph 16:
"Traces of one VX-degradation product and a chemical
known as a VX-stabilizer were found in the samples taken from
the VX dump sites."
However, from this information alone, UNSCOM was not able to
make "a quantified assessment"; that is, they were
not able to verify that all 1.5 tonnes of the agent had been
Iraq at first denied the production of VX. When confronted
with the evidence of its past VX production by UNSCOM, to explain
the lack of documentary proof of the destruction of this quantity
of VX, it "provided UNSCOM with handwritten notes that
recorded the issuance of oral instructions, inter alia, to destroy
any evidence indicating the presence of VX and a key precursor
of VX, 'Iraqi choline'" ("Unresolved
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.80).
Since then, it has provided further material from late February
2003 and on 14 March 2003 to substantiate its case, material
that is currently being assessed.
Secondly, VX produced according to "route
B" degrades rapidly. According to UNMOVIC:
"VX produced through route B must be used relatively
quickly after production (about 1 to 8 weeks), which would
probably be satisfactory for wartime requirements."
Disarmament Issues" (6 March 2003), p.82
This conclusion is confirmed by other independent assessments.
For example, the International Institute for Strategic Studies
(IISS) strategic dossier of September 2002 records the status
of VX produced before the Gulf War: "Any VX produced by Iraq
before 1991 is likely to have decomposed over the past decade
[...]. Any G-agent or V-agent stocks that Iraq concealed from
UNSCOM inspections are likely to have deteriorated by now."
(pp. 52 and 53).
Iraq also used two further methods to produce VX: route C seems
to have been unsuccessful, but route D did result in the production
of "high purity VX [..] in laboratory/pilot-scale equipment"
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.82).
According to UNMOVIC, any VX produced according to route D could
have been stabilised, and could remain viable. However, there
is no evidence that Iraq did ever produce significant quantities
of VX through route D. As UNMOVIC record:
"Based upon the documents provided by Iraq, it is doubtful
that any significant quantities of VX were produced using
this route before the Gulf war."
Disarmament Issues" (6 March 2003), p.82.
Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Iraq would have produced
VX through route D during the Gulf War due to the more complex
process that would have been involved. As UNMOVIC record:
"During times of war, or imminent war, it would make
sense for Iraq to produce VX through route B, which involves
only about half as many process steps as route D."
Disarmament Issues" (6 March 2003), p.82.
In April/May 1998, UNSCOM passed samples from missile warhead
fragments to a United States laboratory, which reported in June
1998 that they had found VX degradation products on the missile
warheads. This was seen as indicating at the time that Iraq
had stabilised VX sufficiently and had managed to weaponise
it (in contrast to the Government of Iraq's own claims). However,
further tests on fragments from the same missile warheads at
two other laboratories (in Switzerland and France), and at the
same United States laboratory with further samples, "found
no nerve agent degradation products" (ibid.,
p.82). The chemical in question "could also originate
from other compounds such as precursors or, according to some
experts, a detergent" (ibid., p.81).
Key post-war readings: Bob Drogin, "The
Vanishing", The New Republic,14 July 2003: includes
detailed interview with a senior scientist involved in the production
of VX prior to 1990.
Department, 12 September 2002, p.9: "Iraq has not [..] accounted
for about 550 artillery shells filled with mustard agent." (repeated
October 2002, p.10).
Department, 19 December 2002: "In January 1999, the
UN Special Commission reported that Iraq failed to provide credible
evidence that 550 mustard gas-filled artillery shells... had been
lost or destroyed. [...] Again, what is the Iraqi regime trying to
hide by not providing this information?" (partially repeated
House, January 2003, p.6).
Powell, 5 February 2003: "Saddam Hussein has never accounted
for vast amounts of chemical weaponry: 550 artillery shells with mustard
Department, 27 February 2003: "UNMOVIC has reported
that Iraq failed to provide evidence to account for 1,000 tons of
mustard gas, 550 mustard gas-filled munitions [..]".
|Evaluation. A "blister agent", mustard has a longer
shelf-life than G-series nerve agents. As the final assessment
report from UNSCOM recorded:
"a dozen mustard-filled shells were recovered at a
former CW storage facility in the period 1997 - 1998 [..].
After seven years, the purity of mustard ranged between 94
(Enclosure 1 to the Annex of the Letter to the President
of the Security Council, 29 January 1999, S/1999/94, para.33;
However, mustard has a high volume-to-effectiveness ratio.
As the IISS record in the strategic dossier, at p.43:
"large amounts of mustard are necessary for effective
military operations. Roughly, one tonne of agent is needed
to effectively contaminate 2.6 square kilometres of territory,
if properly disseminated."
Iraq declared that it filled approximately 13,000 artillery
shells with mustard prior to 1991. UNSCOM accounted for 12,792
of these shells, and destroyed them in the period of 1992-94.
However, Iraq also declared that 550 mustard-filled artillery
shells had been lost in the aftermath of the Gulf War; it later
(in March 2003) claimed that this figure was arrived at by way
of approximating the amount used, for which reliable records
are not available, and thus the quantity unaccounted for is
simply a result of the use of unreliable approximations. UNMOVIC
report that the 550 artillery shells would contain between them
"a couple of tonnes of agent" ("Unresolved
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.76). The
extent to which these - if they still existed - could constitute
an ongoing danger should be assessed in light of the need to
deploy large amounts of mustard for effective use.
Iraq has also cooperated in the destruction of remaining mustard
items. 10 artillery shells were found by UNSCOM but were not
destroyed before UNSCOM withdrew in 1998. As requested, Iraq
kept these shells at al-Mutanna facility, where they were identified
by UNMOVIC on 4
December 2002. On 11
February 2003, UNMOVIC reported:
"An UNMOVIC chemical team went to Al Mutanna, approximately
140 km north of Baghdad in preparation for the beginning of
the process of destroying 10 155mm artillery shells and four
plastic containers filled with mustard gas. The destruction
process will begin tomorrow and is expected to last four to
five days to complete. UNMOVIC chemical inspectors will work
with an Iraqi team in the destruction process. These artillery
shells were scheduled to be destroyed by the United Nations
Special Commission (UNSCOM) in 1998 but the plan was halted
when UNSCOM withdrew from Iraq."
Technical problems were subsequently reported, but destruction
continued from 25
February 2003, and was completed by 5
With regard to the "1,000 tons of mustard gas", referred
to by the State Department on 27 February 2003, this seems to
be an exaggeration. The only mustard that is unaccounted for
except for the artillery shells is the discrepancy revealed
in the Air Force document between the aerial bombs that Iraq
claims it used in the Iran-Iraq war and the lower figure for
those used in that document (see above).
As Hans Blix said (quoted above), the total amount of chemical
agents in these bombs could be around 1,000 tonnes. However,
a considerable proportion of this would be made up of Sarin
and Tabun bombs, agents that would not have lasted for more
than a few months, and not mustard.
(iv) G-agents (nerve agents)
of Defense, 8 October 2002: 200 metric tons of G-agents (sarin)
are unaccounted for.
Evaluation. The main G-agents produced by Iraq were
Tabun, Sarin and Cyclosarin. It is generally accepted that Iraq
stopped producing Tabun in 1986 (UNMOVIC accept that this account
"is plausible and appears to be supported by UNSCOMs
findings", in "Unresolved
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.68), in
favour of concentrating on the producing of Sarin and Cyclosarin.
These agents deteriorate rapidly, especially if impurities
are present in their manufacture. This seems to have been the
case with Iraq's nerve agents. The Persian Gulf War Illnesses
Task Force of the US Department of Defense gave the following
assessment in March 2001:
"Impure or improperly stored sarin is unstable and degrades
over time. US experts consider chemical warfare agents less
than 50 percent pure to be militarily ineffective. Western
sources estimate the sarin Iraq produced never exceeded 60
percent purity, and Iraq reported that poor operating practices
at Al Muthanna limited the purity of sarin to between 20 and
50 percent. Since it contained at least 40 percent impurities
when manufactured, sarin produced at Al Muthanna had a short
shelf life. The CIA estimates the chemical warfare agent in
the rockets stored at Al Muthanna had deteriorated to approximately
18 percent purity by the time that Bunker 2 was destroyed,
leaving about 1600 kilograms (1.6 metric tons) of viable sarin."
"The Gulf War Air Campaign - Possible Chemical Warfare Agent
Release at Al Muthanna, February 8, 1991", 19 March 2001;
The taskforce of the Department of Defense attributed the high
level of Iraqi cooperation in revealing the scale of its earlier
chemical programme to the fact that the Iraqi government realised
that the nerve agents it had produced were no longer viable:
"We believe Iraq was largely cooperative on its latest declarations
because many of its residual munitions were of little use
- other than bolstering the credibility of Iraq's declaration
- because of chemical agent degradation and leakage problems."
"Chemical Warfare Agent Issues During the Persian Gulf War",
Persian Gulf War Illnesses Task Force, April 2002; at: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/gulfwar/cwagents/cwpaper1.htm
A similar assessment was made by the CIA in a memorandum from
"Iraq is not able to make good-quality chemical agents. Technical
failures have reduced their purity and caused problems in
storage and handling. This is a particular problem for the
sarin- type nerve agents (GB and GF). These both contain hydrofluoricacid
(HF), an impurity that attacks metal surfaces and catalyzes
nerve agent decomposition. This leads to metal failure and
leaks in the ammunition, increasing handling hazards. [...]
Lower purity significantly limits shelf life and reduces toxic
effects when the munition is employed. [...] The nerve agent
should have already begun to deteriorate, and decomposition
should make most of the nerve agent weapons unserviceable
by the end of March 1991."
"Iraq: Potential for Chemical Weapon Use", 25 January 1991;
This assessment is repeated in the IISS strategic dossier of
9 September 2002: "As a practical matter, any nerve agent from
this period [pre-1991] would have deteriorated by now.." (p.51)
UNMOVIC have also acknowledged this conclusion with regard
to specific substances:
Tabun: "documentary evidence suggests that Tabun
was produced using process technology and quality control methodologies
that would result in the agent being degraded to a very low
quality through the action of a resulting by-product."
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.68).
Sarin / Cyclosarin: "According to documents discovered
by UNSCOM in Iraq, the purity of Sarin-type agents produced
by Iraq were on average below 60%, and dropped below Iraqs
established quality control acceptance level of 40% by purity
some 3 to 12 months after production. [...] There is no
evidence that any bulk Sarin-type agents remain in Iraq
- gaps in accounting of these agents are related to Sarin-type
agents weaponized in rocket warheads and aerial bombs. Based
on the documentation found by UNSCOM during inspections in Iraq,
Sarin-type agents produced by Iraq were largely of low quality
and as such, degraded shortly after production. Therefore, with
respect to the unaccounted for weaponized Sarin-type agents,
it is unlikely that they would still be viable today."
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, pp.72-73).
(b) Existing chemical precursors
Department, 12 September 2002, p.9: "Iraq has not accounted
for hundreds of tons of chemical precursors and tens of thousands of
unfilled munitions, including Scud variant missile warheads."
24 September 2002, p.16: "we assess that when the UN inspectors
left Iraq they were unable to account for [...] up to 3,000 tonnes of
precursor chemicals, including approximately 300 tonnes which, in the
Iraqi chemical warfare programme, were unique to the production of VX".
24 September 2002, p.18: "In mid-2001 the JIC assessed that
Iraq retained some chemical [..] precursors, production equipment [..]
from before the Gulf War. These stocks would enable Iraq to produce
significant quantities of mustard gas within weeks and of nerve agent
October 2002, p.10: "Iraq probably has concealed precursors,
production equipment, documentation, and other items necessary for continuing
its CW effort. Baghdad never supplied adequate evidence to support its
claims that it destroyed all of its CW agents and munitions. Thousands
of tons of chemical precursors and tens of thousands of unfilled munitions,
including Scud- variant missile warheads, remain unaccounted for."
Department, 19 December 2002: "The Iraqi regime has
never adequately accounted for hundreds, possibly thousands, of tons
of chemical precursors. Again, what is the Iraqi regime trying to hide
by not providing this information?" (repeated in White
House, January 2003, p.6).
Bush, 28 January 2003: "Our intelligence officials estimate
that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons
of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical
agents could also kill untold thousands."
Powell, 5 February 2003: "Saddam Hussein has never accounted
[...] enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500
tons of chemical agents."
Evaluation. Chemical precursors do have a significantly
longer shelf-life than the agents themselves. UNSCOM did recognise
that it was unable to account for the balance between the precursor
chemicals that Iraq is known to have had in 1991, and those that
were verifiably destroyed. The total declared by Iraq - either
produced by Iraq or imported - amounted to some 20,150 tonnes.
Of these, 14,500 tonnes were used for the production of chemical
weapons or for producing other precursors (leaving a balance of
5,650 tonnes unused for this purpose). Iraq further declared that
it had in January 1991 a total of 3,915 tonnes of precursors left
from the original 20,150 tonnes, with the discrepancy of 1,735
tonnes lost as a result of unsuitable storage, leaks, spillages
Out of the 3,915 tonnes that Iraq claimed it still had in January
1991, UNSCOM accounted for 2,850 tonnes. The remainder was declared
by Iraq either as having been destroyed unilaterally (242 tonnes)
or having been destroyed during the Gulf War (823 tonnes). Iraq
includes in the first of those categories - unilateral destruction
in mid-1991 - all precursor chemicals for VX.
UNSCOM's assessment for each relevant precursor chemical that
Iraq held in January 1991 is in Appendix II, para.22 of its January
1999 report. For some precursor chemicals, UNSCOM was able
to account for the entire quantity held by Iraq; but with a number
of other chemicals -- such as dimethylaminohydrochloride, for
the production of Tabun; thionylchloride, for the production of
G-agents, mustard and VX; methylphosphonyl difluoride (MPF) for
G-agents; P2S5, diisopropyl amine, chloroethanol and choline for
VX -- UNSCOM was able to verify that destruction of these chemicals
had taken place, but was unable to verify the amount. To take
the example of dimethylaminohydrochloride, Iraq claimed that it
had 295 tonnes in January 1991; but that approximately 30 tonnes
were destroyed in the Gulf War. UNSCOM noted that "Evidence
of destruction was seen by UNSCOM", but that "Accounting
was not possible due to the state of destruction". Separately,
272 tonnes were destroyed under UNSCOM supervision.
Given UNSCOM's inability to discern the quantities of materials
destroyed in 1991, it is difficult to see how Iraq could ever
verify that this material no longer exists, particularly the material
destroyed when the buildings they were in were bombed. It is also
difficult to see how the US has arrived at a figure of 500 tonnes
of potential production from retained precursors, as this figure
is not mentioned in any UNSCOM or UNMOVIC reports.
It is also unclear to what extent Iraq has, pace the State
Department, provided an adequate account of what happened to other
chemical precursors it held in 1991. According to Hans Blix, Executive
Chairman of UNMOVIC, in his notes
for briefing the Security Council of 19 December 2002, in
the Iraqi declaration of 7 December 2002:
"there are some sections of new material. In the chemical
weapons field, Iraq has further explained its account of the
material balance of precursors for chemical warfare agents."
As the declaration is not in the public realm, it is impossible
to assess if Iraq has provided further evidence of its claim to
have unilaterally destroyed in 1991 its remaining stocks of precursor
chemicals. It is noticeable also that UNMOVIC recorded on 6 March
2003 that "no evidence of precursors has so far been observed
by UNMOVIC inspection teams" ("Unresolved
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.74).
Department, 12 September 2002, p.9: "Iraq continues to rebuild
and expand dual-use infrastructure that it could quickly divert to chemical
weapons production, such as chlorine and phenol plants."
Many of the most detailed claims made about Iraq since 1998
have been related to the rebuilding of facilities that were formerly
associated with chemical and biological weapons. It is noticeable
that few of these claims are that a specific facility is currently
being used for the production of chemical or biological warfare
agents. Instead, the facilities are identified as being capable
of producing such agents as well as civilian products, or that the
material that is being produced could be used in the development
of illicit weapons.
Unless there is a reliable assessment that the production
undertaken at these facilities is part of a chemical and biological
warfare programme, the information presented in these claims cannot
be taken as demonstrating that Iraq has recently produced illicit
chemical and biological agents. Indeed, UNMOVIC inspections have
not discovered any facilities in Iraq currently engaged in the production
of chemical or biological weapons. A significant example is the
description provided by UNMOVIC for the facilities required to produce
"Iraq does not appear to have a dedicated facility
capable of producing Mustard and its key precursors. Significant
modifications would be required to convert existing chemical production
facilities for this purpose. Iraq would have to utilize corrosion
resistant equipment (for the processing of the chlorinating
agent), which it possesses in limited quantities. However, Iraq
had some items of dual-use equipment distributed all over the
country at legitimate facilities that could be removed and assembled
for the construction of a dedicated Mustard production plant".
Disarmament Issues", 6 March 2003, p.77).
The example of mustard is significant because, according to UNMOVIC,
"Mustard would be the easiest agent for Iraq to produce indigenously."
(a) Fallujah II (100 km north-west of Baghdad),
in al-Saqlawiyya area of al-Anbar province
24 September 2002, p.20: "plants formerly associated
with the chemical warfare programme have been rebuilt. These include
the chlorine and phenol plant at Fallujah 2 near Habbaniyah. In addition
to their civilian uses, chlorine and phenol are used for precursor chemicals
which contribute to the production of chemical agents."
Department, 12 September 2002, p.9: "Iraq is seeking to purchase
chemical weapons agent precursors and applicable production equipment,
and is making an effort to hide activities at the Fallujah plant, which
was one of Iraq's chemical weapons production facilities before the
Gulf War. At Fallujah and three other plants, Iraq now has chlorine
production capacity far higher than any civilian need for water treatment,
and the evidence indicates that some of its chlorine imports are being
diverted for military purposes."
October 2002, pp.10-11: "Baghdad continues to rebuild and expand
dual-use infrastructure that it could divert quickly to CW production.
The best examples are the chlorine and phenol plants at the Fallujah
II facility. Both chemicals have legitimate civilian uses but also are
raw materials for the synthesis of precursor chemicals used to produce
blister and nerve agents. Iraq has three other chlorine plants that
have much higher capacity for civilian production; these plants and
Iraqi imports are more than sufficient to meet Iraq's civilian needs
for water treatment. Of the 15 million kg of chlorine imported under
the UN Oil-for-Food Program since 1997, Baghdad used only 10 million
kg and has 5 million kg in stock, suggesting that some domestically
produced chlorine has been diverted to such proscribed activities as
CW agent production.
Fallujah II was one of Iraq's principal CW precursor production facilities
before the Gulf war. In the last two years the Iraqis have upgraded
the facility and brought in new chemical reactor vessels and shipping
containers with a large amount of production equipment. They have expanded
chlorine output far beyond pre-Gulf war production levels - capabilities
that can be diverted quickly to CW production. Iraq is seeking to purchase
CW agent precursors and applicable production equipment and is trying
to hide the activities of the Fallujah plant."
Powell, 5 February 2003: "Iraq has rebuilt key portions of
the Tareq State Establishment. Tareq includes facilities designed specifically
for Iraqs chemical weapons program and employs key figures from
Evaluation. This site, which used to produce chemical
weapons precursors, was bombed in the Gulf War, and its remaining
stocks were removed and destroyed by UNSCOM. It was inactive in
1998. The claims that it now produces chlorine and phenol (ie
carbolic acid), which could serve as precursors for the production
of weapons, were not substantiated in UK and US reports. These
chemicals could also be used as disinfectants and in water treatment,
and so the production of these chemicals in themselves would not
necessarily be evidence for a weapons programme.
Results of UN inspections. Fallujah II was inspected by
UNMOVIC inspectors on 9 December 2002. In contrast to the extensive
claims of the CIA and the State Department, UNMOVIC found that
the chlorine plant was not even in use:
"Two separate chemical plants are in the factory area
and their major activity is the production of phenol and chlorine.
The chlorine plant is currently inoperative. The
site contains a number of tagged dual-use items of equipment,
which were all accounted for. All key buildings were inspected
in addition to the chlorine and phenol plants. The objectives
of the visit were successfully achieved."
IAEA / UNMOVIC press statement, 9 December 2002 (emphasis
Further inspections by UNMOVIC chemical teams have taken place
December 2002, 8
January 2003, and 2
March 2003. An aerial inspection took place on 31
January 2003. The report of the inspection on 17
January 2003 repeated the finding that "The chlorine
plant is currently inoperative."
Fallujah II is also sometimes referred to Tareq State Establishment
(or Tareq State Enterprise). Secretary Powell used this name for
the facility, as listed above; he may have used the alternate
name to make refutation of his claims harder.
(b) Ibn Sina, Tarmiyya (68km northwest of
24 September 2002, p.20: "New chemical facilities have been
built, some with illegal foreign assistance, and are probably fully
operational or ready for production. These include the Ibn Sina Company
at Tarmiyah, which is a chemical research centre. It undertakes research,
development and production of chemicals previously imported but not
now available and which are needed for Iraq's civil industry. The Director
General of the research centre is Hikmat Na'im al-Jalu who prior to
the Gulf War worked in Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and after the
war was responsible for preserving Iraq's chemical expertise."
Evaluation. This is a reference to the Research Centre
for Industrial Chemistry which was established in March 1992.
According to IAEA reports from 1993
the Centre was engaged in small scale chemical recovery work,
such as the purification of phosphoric acid and the recovery of
vanadium from coal ash.
Results of UN inspection. The IAEA continues to monitor
the site. On 11 December 2002, after an IAEA inspection, a joint
update stated that the monitors "inspected the new activities
at the site and verified that no nuclear activities remain or
have been initiated." There were further inspections by an UNMOVIC
chemical team on 4
January 2003 and by a missile team on 11
(c) al-Qa'qa' (60km southwest of Baghdad)
24 September 2002, p.20: "Parts of the al-Qa'qa' chemical complex
damaged in the Gulf War have also been repaired and are operational.
Of particular concern are elements of the phosgene production plant
at al-Qa'qa'. These were severely damaged during the Gulf War, and dismantled
under UNSCOM supervision, but have since been rebuilt. While phosgene
does have industrial uses it can also be used by itself as a chemical
agent or as a precursor for nerve agent."
(d) al-Musayyib (south of Baghdad)
Powell, 5 February 2003: "I'm going to show you a small part
of a chemical complex called "Al Musayyib", a site that Iraq
has used for at least three years to transship chemical weapons from
production facilities out to the field. In May 2002, our satellites
photographed the unusual activity in this picture. Here we see
cargo vehicles are again at this transshipment point, and we can see
that they are accompanied by a decontamination vehicle associated with
biological or chemical weapons activity. What makes this picture significant
is that we have a human source who has corroborated that movement of
chemical weapons occurred at this site at that time. So it's not just
the photo and it's not an individual seeing the photo. It's the photo
and then the knowledge of an individual being brought together to make
the case. This photograph of the site taken two months later, in July,
shows not only the previous site which is the figure in the middle at
the top with the bulldozer sign near it, it shows that this previous
site, as well as all of the other sites around the site have been fully
bulldozed and graded. The topsoil has been removed. The Iraqis literally
removed the crust of the earth from large portions of this site in order
to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years
of chemical weapons activity."
Evaluation. It seems highly unlikely that residue of 3
years of chemical transshipment could be completely hidden simply
by removing the topsoil. As Jonathan Ban of the Washington-based
Chemical and Biological Arms Control
Institute said in response to the claims of Secretary Powell:
"I find it very difficult to believe that if there was
chemical weapons contamination in the area that the Iraqis would
be able to completely get rid of that contamination. The image
shows that there are some areas of ground on the site that haven't
been graded and I think the inspectors would be able to take
samples from there to prove conclusively whether or not there
has been recent chemical weapons activity".
Guardian, 6 February 2003.
Instead, detailed analysis of the facilities at al-Musayyib would
be likely to yield physical evidence. This is what inspectors
have been trying to find. A first visit to a pesticide store there
was successfully completed on 13
December 2002. UNMOVIC reported on 11
"An UNMOVIC multidisciplinary team inspected the Al Musaayaib
Ammo Depot, an ammunition storage area south of Baghdad on 10
February. The team inspected bunkers, warehouses, small buildings
and storage areas."
Any evidence of chemical transshipment will be reported to the
Security Council. No such evidence has been reported to date.