WEAPONS OF MASS
THE ASSESSMENT OF THE BRITISH
: Iraq’s Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programmes 9
: The role of intelligence 9
: Iraq’s programmes 1971–1998 11
: The current position 1998–2002 17
: History of UN Weapons Inspections 33
: Iraq under Saddam Hussein 43
FOREWORD BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE TONY BLAIR MP
The document published today is based, in large part, on the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The JIC is
at the heart of the British intelligence machinery. It is chaired by the Cabinet Office and made up of the heads of the
UK’s three Intelligence and Security Agencies, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, and senior officials from key
government departments. For over 60 years the JIC has provided regular assessments to successive Prime Ministers and
senior colleagues on a wide range of foreign policy and international security issues.
Its work, like the material it analyses, is largely secret. It is unprecedented for the Government to publish this kind
of document. But in light of the debate about Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), I wanted to share with the
British public the reasons why I believe this issue to be a current and serious threat to the UK national interest.
In recent months, I have been increasingly alarmed by the evidence from inside Iraq that despite sanctions, despite the
damage done to his capability in the past, despite the UN Security Council Resolutions expressly outlawing it, and
despite his denials, Saddam Hussein is continuing to develop WMD, and with them the ability to inflict real damage upon
the region, and the stability of the world.
Gathering intelligence inside Iraq is not easy. Saddam’s is one of the most secretive and dictatorial regimes in the
world. So I believe people will understand why the Agencies cannot be specific about the sources, which have formed the
judgements in this document, and why we cannot publish everything we know. We cannot, of course, publish the detailed
raw intelligence. I and other Ministers have been briefed in detail on the intelligence and are satisfied as to its
authority. I also want to pay tribute to our Intelligence and Security Services for the often extraordinary work that
What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical
and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend
the range of his ballistic missile programme. I also believe that, as stated in the document, Saddam will now do his
utmost to try to conceal his weapons from UN inspectors.
The picture presented to me by the JIC in recent months has become more not less worrying. It is clear that, despite
sanctions, the policy of containment has not worked sufficiently well to prevent Saddam from developing these weapons.
I am in no doubt that the threat is serious and current, that he has made progress on WMD, and that he has to be
Saddam has used chemical weapons, not only against an enemy state, but against his own people. Intelligence reports make
clear that he sees the building up of his WMD capability, and the belief overseas that he would use these weapons, as
vital to his
strategic interests, and in particular his goal of regional domination. And the document discloses that his military
planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them.
I am quite clear that Saddam will go to extreme lengths, indeed has already done so, to hide these weapons and avoid
giving them up.
In today’s inter-dependent world, a major regional conflict does not stay confined to the region in question. Faced with
someone who has shown himself capable of using WMD, I believe the international community has to stand up for itself and
ensure its authority is upheld.
The threat posed to international peace and security, when WMD are in the hands of a brutal and aggressive regime like
Saddam’s, is real. Unless we face up to the threat, not only do we risk undermining the authority of the UN, whose
resolutions he defies, but more importantly and in the longer term, we place at risk the lives and prosperity of our own
The case I make is that the UN Resolutions demanding he stops his WMD programme are being flouted; that since the
inspectors left four years ago he has continued with this programme; that the inspectors must be allowed back in to do
their job properly; and that if he refuses, or if he makes it impossible for them to do their job, as he has done in the
past, the international community will have to act.
I believe that faced with the information available to me, the UK Government has been right to support the demands that
this issue be confronted and dealt with. We must ensure that he does not get to use the weapons he has, or get hold of
the weapons he wants.
1. Under Saddam Hussein Iraq developed chemical and biological weapons, acquired missiles allowing it to attack
neighbouring countries with these weapons and persistently tried to develop a nuclear bomb. Saddam has used chemical
weapons, both against Iran and against his own people. Following the Gulf War, Iraq had to admit to all this. And in the
ceasefire of 1991 Saddam agreed unconditionally to give up his weapons of mass destruction.
2. Much information about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is already in the public domain from UN reports and from
Iraqi defectors. This points clearly to Iraq’s continuing possession, after 1991, of chemical and biological agents and
weapons produced before the Gulf War. It shows that Iraq has refurbished sites formerly associated with the production
of chemical and biological agents. And it indicates that Iraq remains able to manufacture these agents, and to use
bombs, shells, artillery rockets and ballistic missiles to deliver them.
3. An independent and well-researched overview of this public evidence was provided by the International Institute for
Strategic Studies (IISS) on 9 September. The IISS report also suggested that Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within
months of obtaining fissile material from foreign sources.
4. As well as the public evidence, however, significant additional information is available to the Government from
secret intelligence sources, described in more detail in this paper. This intelligence cannot tell us about everything.
However, it provides a fuller picture of Iraqi plans and capabilities. It shows that Saddam Hussein attaches great
importance to possessing weapons of mass destruction which he regards as the basis for Iraq’s regional power. It shows
that he does not regard them only as weapons of last resort. He is ready to use them, including against his own
population, and is determined to retain them, in breach of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR).
5. Intelligence also shows that Iraq is preparing plans to conceal evidence of these weapons, including incriminating
documents, from renewed inspections. And it confirms that despite sanctions and the policy of containment, Saddam has
continued to make progress with his illicit weapons programmes.
6. As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:
- continued to produce chemical and biological agents;
- military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own Shia population. Some of
these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them;
- command and control arrangements in place to use chemical and biological weapons. Authority ultimately resides with
Saddam Hussein. (There is intelligence that he may have delegated this authority to his son Qusai);
- developed mobile laboratories for military use, corroborating earlier reports about the mobile production of
biological warfare agents;
- pursued illegal programmes to procure controlled materials of potential use in the production of chemical and
biological weapons programmes;
- tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;
- sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that
could require it;
- recalled specialists to work on its nuclear programme;
- illegally retained up to 20 al-Hussein missiles, with a range of 650km, capable of carrying chemical or biological
- started deploying its al-Samoud liquid propellant missile, and has used the absence of weapons inspectors to work on
extending its range to at least 200km, which is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;
- started producing the solid-propellant Ababil-100, and is making efforts to extend its range to at least 200km, which
is beyond the limit of 150km imposed by the United Nations;
- constructed a new engine test stand for the development of missiles capable of reaching the UK Sovereign Base Areas in
Cyprus and NATO members (Greece and Turkey), as well as all Iraq’s Gulf neighbours and Israel;
- pursued illegal programmes to procure materials for use in its illegal development of long range missiles;
- learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and has already begun to conceal sensitive equipment and
documentation in advance of the return of inspectors.
7. These judgements reflect the views of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).
More details on the judgements and on the development of the JIC’s assessments since 1998 are set out in Part 1 of this
8. Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are in breach of international law. Under a series of UN Security Council
Resolutions Iraq is obliged to destroy its holdings of these weapons under the supervision of UN inspectors. Part 2 of
the paper sets out the key UN Security Council Resolutions. It also summarises the history of the UN inspection regime
and Iraq’s history of deception, intimidation and concealment in its dealings with the UN inspectors.
9. But the threat from Iraq does not depend solely on the capabilities we have described. It arises also because of the
violent and aggressive nature of Saddam Hussein’s regime. His record of internal repression and external aggression
gives rise to unique concerns about the threat he poses. The paper briefly outlines in Part 3 Saddam’s rise to power,
the nature of his regime and his history of regional aggression. Saddam’s human rights abuses are also catalogued,
including his record of torture, mass arrests and summary executions.
10. The paper briefly sets out how Iraq is able to finance its weapons programme.
Drawing on illicit earnings generated outside UN control, Iraq generated illegal income of some $3 billion in 2001.
IRAQ’S CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, NUCLEAR AND BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAMMES
THE ROLE OF INTELLIGENCE
1. Since UN inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in 1998, there has been little overt information on Iraq’s chemical,
biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Much of the publicly available information about Iraqi
capabilities and intentions is dated. But we also have available a range of secret intelligence about these programmes
and Saddam Hussein’s intentions. This comes principally from the United Kingdom’s intelligence and analysis agencies –
the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service, and the
Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). We also have access to intelligence from close allies.
2. Intelligence rarely offers a complete account of activities which are designed to remain concealed. The nature of
Saddam’s regime makes Iraq a difficult target for the intelligence services. Intelligence, however, has provided
important insights into Iraqi programmes and Iraqi military thinking. Taken together with what is already known from
other sources, this intelligence builds our understanding of Iraq’s capabilities and adds significantly to the analysis
already in the public domain. But intelligence sources need to be protected, and this limits the detail that can be made
3. Iraq’s capabilities have been regularly reviewed by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which has provided advice
to the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues on the developing assessment, drawing on all available sources. Part 1
of this paper includes some of the most significant views reached by the JIC between 1999 and 2002.
Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)
The JIC is a Cabinet Committee with a history dating back to 1936. The JIC brings together the Heads of the three
Intelligence and Security Agencies (Secret Intelligence Service, Government Communications Headquarters and the Security
Service), the Chief of Defence Intelligence, senior policy makers from the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, the
Home Office, the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry and representatives from other Government Departments
and Agencies as appropriate. The JIC provides regular intelligence assessments to the Prime Minister, other Ministers
and senior officials on a wide range of foreign policy and international security issues. It meets each week in the
IRAQ’S PROGRAMMES: 1971–1998
1. Iraq has been involved in chemical and biological warfare research for over 30 years. Its chemical warfare research
started in 1971 at a small, well guarded site at Rashad to the north east of Baghdad. Research was conducted there on a
number of chemical agents including mustard gas, CS and tabun. Later, in 1974 a dedicated organisation called al-Hasan
Ibn al-Haitham was established. In the late 1970s plans were made to build a large research and commercial-scale
production facility in the desert some 70km north west of Baghdad under the cover of Project 922. This was to become
Muthanna State Establishment, also known as al-Muthanna, and operated under the front name of Iraq’s State Establishment
for Pesticide Production. It became operational in 1982-83. It had five research and development sections, each tasked
to pursue different programmes. In addition, the al-Muthanna site was the main chemical agent production facility, and
it also took the lead in weaponising chemical and biological agents including all aspects of weapon development and
testing, in association with the military. According to information, subsequently supplied by the Iraqis, the total
production capacity in 1991 was 4,000 tonnes of agent per annum, but we assess it could have been higher. Al-Muthanna
was supported by three separate storage and precursor production facilities known as Fallujah 1, 2 and 3 near
Habbaniyah, north west of Baghdad, parts of which were not completed before they were heavily bombed in the 1991 Gulf
2. Iraq started biological warfare research in the mid-1970s. After small-scale research, a purpose-built research and development facility was authorised
at al-Salman, also known as Salman Pak. This is surrounded on three sides by the Tigris river and situated some 35km
south of Baghdad. Although some progress was made in biological weapons research at this early stage, Iraq decided to
concentrate on developing chemical agents and their delivery systems at al-Muthanna. With the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq
War, in the early 1980s, the biological weapons programme was revived. The appointment of Dr Rihab Taha in 1985, to head
a small biological weapons research team at al-Muthanna,
Effects of Chemical Weapons
Mustard is a liquid agent, which gives off a hazardous vapour, causing burns and blisters to exposed skin. When inhaled,
mustard damages the respiratory tract; when ingested, it causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It attacks and damages the eyes,
mucous membranes, lungs, skin, and blood-forming organs.
Tabun, sarin and VX are all nerve agents of which VX is the most toxic.
They all damage the nervous system, producing muscular spasms and paralysis. As little as 10 milligrammes of VX on the
skin can cause rapid death.
helped to develop the programme. At about the same time plans were made to develop the Salman Pak site into a secure
biological warfare research facility. Dr Taha continued to work with her team at al-Muthanna until 1987 when it moved to
Salman Pak, which was under the control of the Directorate of General Intelligence. Significant resources were provided
for the programme, including the construction of a dedicated production facility (Project 324) at al-Hakam.
Agent production began in 1988 and weaponisation testing and later filling of munitions was conducted in association
with the staff at Muthanna State Establishment. From mid-1990, other civilian facilities were taken over and some
adapted for use in the production and research and development of biological agents. These included:
- al-Dawrah Foot and Mouth Vaccine Institute which produced botulinum toxin and conducted virus research. There is some
intelligence to suggest that work was also conducted on anthrax;
- al-Fudaliyah Agriculture and Water Research Centre where Iraq admitted it undertook aflatoxin production and genetic
- Amariyah Sera and Vaccine Institute which was used for the storage of biological agent seed stocks and was involved in
3. By the time of the Gulf War Iraq was producing very large quantities of chemical and biological agents. From a series
of Iraqi declarations to the UN during the 1990s we know that by 1991 they had produced at least:
- 19,000 litres of botulinum toxin, 8,500 litres of anthrax, 2,200 litres of aflatoxin and were working on a number of
The effects of biological agents
Anthrax is a disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus Anthracis. Inhalation anthrax is the manifestation of the disease likely
to be expected in biological warfare. The symptoms may vary, but can include fever and internal bleeding. The incubation
period for anthrax is 1 to 7 days, with most cases occurring within 2 days of exposure.
Botulinum toxin is one of the most toxic substances known to man. The first symptoms of poisoning may appear as early as 1 hour post
exposure or as late as 8 days after exposure, with the incubation period between 12 and 22 hours.
Paralysis leads to death by suffocation.
Aflatoxins are fungal toxins, which are potent carcinogens. Most symptoms take a long time to show. Food products contaminated by
aflatoxins can cause liver inflammation and cancer. They can also affect pregnant women, leading to stillborn babies and
children born with mutations.
Ricin is derived from the castor bean and can cause multiple organ failure leading to death within one or two days of
- 2,850 tonnes of mustard gas, 210 tonnes of tabun, 795 tonnes of sarin and cyclosarin, and 3.9 tonnes of VX.
4. Iraq’s nuclear programme was established under the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission in the 1950s. Under a nuclear co-operation agreement signed
with the Soviet Union in 1959, a nuclear research centre, equipped with a research reactor, was built at Tuwaitha, the
main Iraqi nuclear research centre. The research reactor worked up to 1991. The surge in Iraqi oil revenues in the early
1970s supported an expansion of the research programme. This was bolstered in the mid-1970s by the acquisition of two
research reactors powered by highly enriched uranium fuel and equipment for fuel fabrication and handling. By the end of
1984 Iraq was self-sufficient in uranium ore. One of the reactors was destroyed in an Israeli air attack in June 1981
shortly before it was to become operational; the other was never completed.
5. By the mid-1980s the deterioration of Iraq’s position in the war with Iran prompted renewed interest in the military
use of nuclear technology. Additional resources were put into developing technologies to enrich uranium as fissile
material (material that makes up the core of a nuclear weapon) for use in nuclear weapons. Enriched uranium was
preferred because it could be more easily produced covertly than the alternative, plutonium. Iraq followed parallel
programmes to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU), electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) and gas centrifuge
enrichment. By 1991 one EMIS enrichment facility was nearing completion and another was under construction.
However, Iraq never succeeded in its EMIS technology and the programme had been dropped by 1991. Iraq decided to
concentrate on gas centrifuges as the means for producing the necessary fissile material. Centrifuge facilities were
also under construction, but the centrifuge design was still being developed. In August 1990 Iraq instigated a crash
programme to develop a single nuclear weapon within a year. This programme envisaged the rapid development of a small 50
machine gas centrifuge cascade to produce weapons-grade HEU using fuel from the Soviet research reactor, which was
already substantially enriched, and unused fuel from the reactor bombed by the Israelis. By the time of the Gulf War,
the crash programme had made little progress.
6. Iraq’s declared aim was to produce a missile warhead with a 20-kiloton yield and weapons designs were produced for
the simplest implosion weapons. These were similar to the device used at Nagasaki in 1945. Iraq was also working on more Effect of a 20-kiloton nuclear detonation
A detonation of a 20-kiloton nuclear warhead over a city might flatten an area of approximately 3 square miles. Within
1.6 miles of detonation, blast damage and radiation would cause 80% casualties, three-quarters of which would be fatal.
Between 1.6 and 3.1 miles from the detonation, there would still be 10% casualties.
advanced concepts. By 1991 the programme was supported by a large body of Iraqi nuclear expertise, programme
documentation and databases and manufacturing infrastructure. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported
that Iraq had:
- experimented with high explosives to produce implosive shock waves;
- invested significant effort to understand the various options for neutron initiators;
- made significant progress in developing capabilities for the production, casting and machining of uranium metal.
7. Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq had a well-developed ballistic missile industry.
Many of the missiles fired in the Gulf War were an Iraqi modified version of the SCUD missile, the al-Hussein, with an
extended range of 650km. Iraq had about 250 imported SCUD-type missiles prior to the Gulf War plus an unknown number of
indigenously produced engines and components. Iraq was working on other stretched SCUD variants, such as the al-Abbas,
which had a range of 900km. Iraq was also seeking to reverse-engineer the SCUD engine with a view to producing new
missiles. Recent intelligence indicates that they may have succeeded at that time. In particular, Iraq had plans for a
new SCUD-derived missile with a range of 1200km. Iraq also conducted a partial flight test of a multi-stage satellite
launch vehicle based on SCUD technology, known as the al-Abid.
Also during this period, Iraq was developing the Badr-2000, a 700-1000km range two-stage solid propellant missile (based
on the Iraqi part of the 1980s CONDOR-2 programme run in co-operation with Argentina and Egypt). There were plans for
1200–1500km range solid propellant follow-on systems.
The use of chemical and biological weapons
8. Iraq had made frequent use of a variety of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. Many of the casualties are
still in Iranian hospitals suffering from the long-term effects of numerous types of cancer and lung diseases. In 1988
Saddam also used mustard and nerve agents against Iraqi Kurds at Halabja in northern Iraq (see box on p15). Estimates
vary, but according to Human Rights Watch up to 5,000 people were killed.
The short-range mobile SCUD ballistic missile was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950s, drawing on the technology
of the German V-2 developed in World War II.
For many years it was the mainstay of Soviet and Warsaw Pact tactical missile forces and it was also widely exported.
Recipients of Soviet-manufactured SCUDs included Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and Libya, although not all were sold directly
by the Soviet Union.
9. Iraq used significant quantities of mustard, tabun and sarin during the war with Iran resulting in over 20,000
Iranian casualties. A month after the attack on Halabja, Iraqi troops used over 100 tonnes of sarin against Iranian
troops on the al-Fao peninsula. Over the next three months Iraqi troops used sarin and other nerve agents on Iranian
troops causing extensive casualties.
10. From Iraqi declarations to the UN after the Gulf War we know that by 1991 Iraq had produced a variety of delivery
means for chemical and biological agents including over 16,000 free-fall bombs and over 110,000 artillery rockets and
shells. Iraq also admitted to the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) that it had 50 chemical and 25 biological warheads
available for its ballistic missiles.
The Attack on Halabja
On Friday 17th March 1988 the village of Halabja was bombarded by Iraqi warplanes. The raid was over in minutes. Saddam
Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people. A Kurd described the effects of a chemical attack on another
village: “My brothers and my wife had blood and vomit running from their noses and their mouths. Their heads were tilted
to one side. They were groaning. I couldn’t do much, just clean up the blood and vomit from their mouths and try in
every way to make them breathe again. I did artificial respiration on them and then I gave them two injections each. I
also rubbed creams on my wife and two brothers.”
(From “Crimes Against Humanity” Iraqi National Congress.)
Among the corpses at Halabja, children were found dead where they had been playing outside their homes. In places,
streets were piled with corpses.
The use of ballistic missiles
11. Iraq fired over 500 SCUD-type missiles at Iran during the Iran-Iraq War at both civilian and military targets, and
93 SCUD-type missiles during the Gulf War.
The latter were targeted at Israel and Coalition forces stationed in the Gulf region.
12. At the end of the Gulf War the international community was determined that Iraq’s arsenal of chemical and biological
weapons and ballistic missiles should be dismantled. The method chosen to achieve this was the establishment of UNSCOM
to carry out intrusive inspections within Iraq and to eliminate its chemical and biological weapons and ballistic
missiles with a range of over 150km. The IAEA was charged with the abolition of Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme.
Between 1991 and 1998 UNSCOM succeeded in identifying and destroying very large quantities of chemical weapons and
ballistic missiles as well as associated production facilities. The IAEA also destroyed the infrastructure for Iraq’s
nuclear weapons programme and removed key nuclear materials. This was achieved despite a continuous and sophisticated
programme of harassment, obstruction, deception and denial (see Part 2). Because of this UNSCOM concluded by 1998 that
it was unable to fulfil its mandate. The inspectors were withdrawn in December 1998.
13. Based on the UNSCOM report to the UN Security Council in January 1999 and earlier UNSCOM reports, 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 nerve agent;
- 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;
- growth media procured for biological agent production (enough to produce over three times the 8,500 litres of anthrax
spores Iraq admits to having manufactured);
- over 30,000 special munitions for delivery of chemical and biological agents.
14. The departure of UNSCOM meant that the international community was unable to establish the truth behind these large
discrepancies and greatly diminished its ability to monitor and assess Iraq’s continuing attempts to reconstitute its
THE CURRENT POSITION: 1998–2002
1. This chapter sets out what we know of Saddam Hussein’s chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile
programmes, drawing on all the available evidence.
While it takes account of the results from UN inspections and other publicly available information, it also draws
heavily on the latest intelligence about Iraqi efforts to develop their programmes and capabilities since 1998. The main
conclusions are that:
- Iraq has a useable chemical and biological weapons capability, in breach of UNSCR 687, which has included recent
production of chemical and biological agents;
- Saddam continues to attach great importance to the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles
which he regards as being the basis for Iraq’s regional power. He is determined to retain these capabilities;
- Iraq can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of artillery shells, free-fall bombs,
sprayers and ballistic missiles;
- Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons, in breach of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty
and in breach of UNSCR 687. Uranium has been sought from Africa that has no civil nuclear application in Iraq;
- Iraq possesses extended-range versions of the SCUD ballistic missile in breach of UNSCR 687 which are capable of
reaching Cyprus, Eastern Turkey, Tehran and Israel. It is also developing longer-range ballistic missiles;
- Iraq’s current military planning specifically envisages the use of chemical and biological weapons;
- Iraq’s military forces are able to use chemical and biological weapons, with command, control and logistical
arrangements in place. The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons within 45 minutes of a decision to do so;
- Iraq has learnt lessons from previous UN weapons inspections and is already taking steps to conceal and disperse
sensitive equipment and documentation in advance of the return of inspectors;
- Iraq’s chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes are well-funded.
CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessment: 1999–2002
2. Since the withdrawal of the inspectors the JIC has monitored evidence, including from secret intelligence, of
continuing work on Iraqi offensive chemical and biological warfare capabilities. 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. Iraq had also been trying to procure dual-use materials
and equipment which could be used for a biological warfare programme. Personnel known to have been connected to the
biological warfare programme up to the Gulf War had been conducting research into pathogens. There was intelligence that
Iraq was starting to produce biological warfare agents in mobile production facilities. Planning for the project had
begun in 1995 under Dr Rihab Taha, known to have been a central player in the pre-Gulf War programme. The JIC concluded
that Iraq had sufficient expertise, equipment and material to produce biological warfare agents within weeks using its
legitimate bio-technology facilities.
3. In mid-2001 the JIC assessed that Iraq retained some chemical warfare agents, precursors, production equipment and
weapons from before the Gulf War.
These stocks would enable Iraq to produce significant quantities of mustard gas within weeks and of nerve agent within
months. The JIC concluded that intelligence on Iraqi former chemical and biological warfare facilities, their limited
reconstruction and civil production pointed to a continuing research and development programme. These chemical and
biological capabilities represented the most immediate threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Since 1998 Iraqi development of mass destruction weaponry had been helped by the absence of inspectors and the increase
in illegal border trade, which was providing hard currency.
4. In the last six months the JIC has confirmed its earlier judgements on Iraqi chemical and biological warfare
capabilities and assessed that Iraq has the means to deliver chemical and biological weapons.
5. Subsequently, intelligence has become available from reliable sources which complements and adds to previous
intelligence and confirms the JIC assessment that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons. The intelligence also shows
that the Iraqi leadership has been discussing a number of issues related to these weapons. This intelligence covers:
- Confirmation that chemical and biological weapons play an important role in Iraqi military thinking: intelligence shows that Saddam attaches great importance to the possession of chemical and biological weapons which he
regards as being the basis for Iraqi regional power. He believes that respect for Iraq rests on its possession of these
weapons and the missiles capable of delivering them. Intelligence indicates that Saddam is determined to retain this
capability and recognises that Iraqi political weight would be diminished if Iraq’s military power rested solely on its
conventional military forces.
- Iraqi attempts to retain its existing banned weapons systems: Iraq is already taking steps to prevent UN weapons inspectors finding evidence of
its chemical and biological weapons programme. Intelligence indicates that Saddam has learnt lessons from previous
weapons inspections, has identified possible weak points in the inspections process and knows how to exploit them.
Sensitive equipment and papers can easily be concealed and in some cases this is already happening. The possession of
mobile biological agent production facilities will also aid concealment efforts. Saddam is determined not to lose the
capabilities that he has been able to develop further in the four years since inspectors left.
- Saddam’s willingness to use chemical and biological weapons: intelligence indicates that as part of Iraq’s military planning Saddam is willing to use chemical and biological
weapons, including against his own Shia population. Intelligence indicates that the Iraqi military are able to deploy
chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so.
Chemical and biological agents: surviving stocks
6. When confronted with questions about the unaccounted stocks, Iraq has claimed repeatedly that if it had retained any
chemical agents from before the Gulf War they would have deteriorated sufficiently to render them harmless. But 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.
7. Iraq has claimed that all its biological agents and weapons have been destroyed.
No convincing proof of any kind has been produced to support this claim. In particular, Iraq could not explain large
discrepancies between the amount of growth media (nutrients required for the specialised growth of agent) it procured
before 1991 and the amounts of agent it admits to having manufactured. The discrepancy is enough to produce more than
three times the amount of anthrax allegedly manufactured.
Chemical agent: production capabilities
8. Intelligence shows that Iraq has continued to produce chemical agent. During the Gulf War a number of facilities
which intelligence reporting indicated were directly or indirectly associated with Iraq’s chemical weapons effort were
attacked and damaged. Following the ceasefire UNSCOM destroyed or rendered harmless facilities and equipment used in
Iraq’s chemical weapons programme.
Other equipment was released for civilian use either in industry or academic institutes, where it was tagged and
regularly inspected and monitored, or else placed under camera monitoring, to ensure that it was not being misused. This
monitoring ceased when UNSCOM withdrew from Iraq in 1998. However, capabilities remain and, although the main chemical
weapon production facility at al-Muthanna was completely destroyed by UNSCOM and has not been
rebuilt, other 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.
9. Other dual-use facilities, which are capable of being used to support the production of chemical agent and
precursors, have been rebuilt and re-equipped.
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 (see figure 1), which is a chemical research
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.
FIGURE 1: THE IBN SINA COMPANY AT TARMIYAH
10. 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.
11. Iraq has retained the expertise for chemical warfare research, agent production and weaponisation. Most of the
personnel previously involved in the programme remain in country. While UNSCOM found a number of technical manuals (so
called “cook books”) for the production of chemical agents and critical precursors, Iraq’s claim to have unilaterally
destroyed the bulk of the documentation cannot be confirmed and is almost certainly untrue. Recent intelligence
indicates that Iraq is still discussing methods of concealing such documentation in order to ensure that it is not
discovered by any future UN inspections.
Biological agent: production capabilities
12. We know from intelligence that Iraq has continued to produce biological warfare agents. As with some chemical
equipment, UNSCOM only destroyed equipment that could be directly linked to biological weapons production. Iraq also has
its own engineering capability to design and construct biological agent associated fermenters, centrifuges, sprayer
dryers and other equipment and is judged to be self-sufficient in the technology required to produce biological weapons.
The Problem of Dual-Use Facilities
Almost all components and supplies used in weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes are dual-use.
For example, any major petrochemical or biotech industry, as well as public health organisations, will have legitimate
need for most materials and equipment required to manufacture chemical and biological weapons. Without UN weapons
inspectors it is very difficult therefore to be sure about the true nature of many of Iraq’s facilities.
For example, Iraq has built a large new chemical complex, Project Baiji, in the desert in north west Iraq at al-Sharqat
(see figure 2). This site is a former uranium enrichment facility which was damaged during the Gulf War and rendered
harmless under supervision of the IAEA. Part of the site has been rebuilt, with work starting in 1992, as a chemical
Despite the site being far away from populated areas it is surrounded by a high wall with watch towers and guarded by
armed guards. Intelligence reports indicate that it will produce nitric acid which can be used in explosives, missile
fuel and in the purification of uranium.
FIGURE 2: AL-SHARQAT CHEMICAL PRODUCTION FACILITY
experienced personnel who were active in the programme have largely remained in the country. Some dual-use equipment has
also been purchased, but without monitoring by UN inspectors Iraq could have diverted it to their biological weapons
programme. This newly purchased equipment and other equipment previously subject to monitoring could be used in a
resurgent biological warfare programme. Facilities of concern include:
- the Castor Oil Production Plant at Fallujah: this was damaged in UK/US air attacks in 1998 (Operation Desert Fox) but
has been rebuilt. The residue from the castor bean pulp can be used in the production of the biological agent ricin;
- the al-Dawrah Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Institute: which was involved in biological agent production and research
before the Gulf War;
- the Amariyah Sera and Vaccine Plant at Abu Ghraib: UNSCOM established that this facility was used to store biological
agents, seed stocks and conduct biological warfare associated genetic research prior to the Gulf War. It has now
expanded its storage capacity.
13. UNSCOM established that Iraq considered the use of mobile biological agent production facilities. In the past two
years evidence from defectors has indicated the existence of such facilities. Recent intelligence confirms that the
Iraqi military have developed mobile facilities. These would help Iraq conceal and protect biological agent production
from military attack or UN inspection.
Chemical and biological agents: delivery means
14. Iraq has a variety of delivery means available for both chemical and biological agents. These include:
- free-fall bombs: Iraq acknowledged to UNSCOM the deployment to two sites of free-fall bombs filled with biological
agent during 1990–91. These bombs were filled with anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin. Iraq also acknowledged
possession of four types of aerial bomb with various chemical agent fills including sulphur mustard, tabun, sarin and
- artillery shells and rockets: Iraq made extensive use of artillery munitions filled with chemical agents during the
Iran-Iraq War. Mortars can also be used for chemical agent delivery. Iraq is known to have tested the use of shells and
rockets filled with biological agents. Over 20,000 artillery munitions remain unaccounted for by UNSCOM;
- helicopter and aircraft borne sprayers: Iraq carried out studies into aerosol dissemination of biological agent using
these platforms prior to 1991.
UNSCOM was unable to account for many of these devices. It is probable that Iraq retains a capability for aerosol
dispersal of both chemical and biological agent over a large area;
- al-Hussein ballistic missiles (range 650km): Iraq told UNSCOM that it filled 25 warheads with anthrax, botulinum toxin
and aflatoxin. Iraq also
developed chemical agent warheads for al-Hussein. Iraq admitted to producing 50 chemical warheads for al-Hussein which
were intended for the delivery of a mixture of sarin and cyclosarin. However, technical analysis of warhead remnants has
shown traces of VX degradation product which indicate that some additional warheads were made and filled with VX;
- al-Samoud/Ababil-100 ballistic missiles (range 150km plus): it is unclear if chemical and biological warheads have
been developed for these systems, but given the Iraqi experience on other missile systems, we judge that Iraq has the
technical expertise for doing so;
- L-29 remotely piloted vehicle programme (see figure 3): we know from intelligence that Iraq has attempted to modify
the L-29 jet trainer to allow it to be used as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) which is potentially capable of
delivering chemical and biological agents over a large area.
Chemical and biological warfare: command and control
15. The authority to use chemical and biological weapons ultimately resides with Saddam but intelligence indicates that
he may have also delegated this authority to his son Qusai. Special Security Organisation (SSO) and Special Republican
Guard (SRG) units would be involved in the movement of any chemical and biological weapons to military units. The Iraqi
military holds artillery and missile systems at Corps level throughout the Armed Forces and conducts regular training
with them. The Directorate of Rocket Forces has operational control of strategic missile systems and some Multiple
Launcher Rocket Systems.
Chemical and biological weapons: summary
16. Intelligence shows that Iraq has covert chemical and biological weapons programmes, in breach of UN Security Council
Resolution 687 and has continued to produce chemical and biological agents. Iraq has:
- chemical and biological agents and weapons available, both from pre-Gulf War stocks and more recent production;
- the capability to produce the chemical agents mustard gas, tabun, sarin, cyclosarin, and VX capable of producing mass
FIGURE 3: THE L-29 JET TRAINER
- a biological agent production capability and can produce at least anthrax, botulinum toxin, aflatoxin and ricin. Iraq
has also developed mobile facilities to produce biological agents;
- a variety of delivery means available;
- military forces, which maintain the capability to use these weapons with command, control and logistical arrangements
Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessments: 1999–2001
17. Since 1999 the JIC has monitored Iraq’s attempts to reconstitute its nuclear weapons programme. In mid-2001 the JIC
assessed that Iraq had continued its nuclear research after 1998. The JIC drew attention to intelligence that Iraq had
recalled its nuclear scientists to the programme in 1998. Since 1998 Iraq had been trying to procure items that could be
for use in the construction of centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium.
Iraqi nuclear weapons expertise
18. Paragraphs 5 and 6 of Chapter 2 describe the Iraqi nuclear weapons programme prior to the Gulf War. It is clear from
IAEA inspections and Iraq’s own declarations that by 1991 considerable progress had been made in both developing methods
to produce fissile material and in weapons design. The IAEA dismantled the physical infrastructure of the Iraqi nuclear
Elements of a nuclear weapons programme: nuclear fission weapon
A typical nuclear fission weapon consists of:
- fissile material for the core which gives out huge amounts of explosive energy from nuclear reactions when made “super
critical” through extreme compression. Fissile material is usually either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or weapons-grade
— HEU can be made in gas centrifuges (see separate box on p25);
— plutonium is made by reprocessing fuel from a nuclear reactor;
- explosives which are needed to compress the nuclear core. These explosives also require a complex arrangement of
detonators, explosive charges to produce an even and rapid compression of the core;
- sophisticated electronics to fire the explosives;
- a neutron initiator to provide initial burst of neutrons to start the nuclear reactions.
programme, including the dedicated facilities and equipment for uranium separation and enrichment, and for weapon
development and production, and removed the remaining highly enriched uranium. But Iraq retained, and retains, many of
its experienced nuclear scientists and technicians who are specialised in the production of fissile material and weapons
design. Intelligence indicates that Iraq also retains the accompanying programme documentation and data.
19. Intelligence shows that the present Iraqi programme is almost certainly seeking an indigenous ability to enrich
uranium to the level needed for a nuclear weapon.
It indicates that the approach is based on gas centrifuge uranium enrichment, one of the routes Iraq was following for
producing fissile material before the Gulf War. But Iraq needs certain key equipment, including gas centrifuge
components and components for the production of fissile material before a nuclear bomb could be developed.
20. Following the departure of weapons inspectors in 1998 there has been an accumulation of intelligence indicating that
Iraq is making concerted covert efforts to acquire dual-use technology and materials with nuclear applications.
Iraq’s known holdings of processed uranium are under IAEA supervision. But there is intelligence that Iraq has sought
the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Iraq has no active civil nuclear power programme or nuclear
power plants and therefore has no legitimate reason to acquire uranium.
Gas centrifuge uranium enrichment
Uranium in the form of uranium hexafluoride is separated into its different isotopes in rapidly spinning rotor tubes of
special centrifuges. Many hundreds or thousands of centrifuges are connected in cascades to enrich uranium. If the
lighter U235 isotope is enriched to more than 90% it can be used in the core of a nuclear weapon.
Weaponisation is the conversion of these concepts into a reliable weapon. It includes:
- developing a weapon design through sophisticated science and complex calculations;
- engineering design to integrate with the delivery system;
- specialised equipment to cast and machine safely the nuclear core;
- dedicated facilities to assemble the warheads;
- facilities to rigorously test all individual components and designs; The complexity is much greater for a weapon that
can fit into a missile warhead than for a larger Nagasaki-type bomb.
21. Intelligence shows that other important procurement activity since 1998 has included attempts to purchase:
- vacuum pumps which could be used to create and maintain pressures in a gas centrifuge cascade needed to enrich
- an entire magnet production line of the correct specification for use in the motors and top bearings of gas
centrifuges. It appears that Iraq is attempting to acquire a capability to produce them on its own rather than rely on
- Anhydrous Hydrogen Fluoride (AHF) and fluorine gas. AHF is commonly used in the petrochemical industry and Iraq
frequently imports significant amounts, but it is also used in the process of converting uranium into uranium
hexafluoride for use in gas centrifuge cascades;
- one large filament winding machine which could be used to manufacture carbon fibre gas centrifuge rotors;
- a large balancing machine which could be used in initial centrifuge balancing work.
22. Iraq has also made repeated attempts covertly to acquire a very large quantity (60,000 or more) of specialised
aluminium tubes. The specialised aluminium in question is subject to international export controls because of its
potential application in the construction of gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium, although there is no definitive
intelligence that it is destined for a nuclear programme.
Nuclear weapons: timelines
23. In early 2002, the JIC assessed that UN sanctions on Iraq were hindering the import of crucial goods for the
production of fissile material. The JIC judged
Iraq’s civil nuclear programme
- Iraq’s long-standing civil nuclear power programme is limited to small scale research. Activities that could be used
for military purposes are prohibited by UNSCR 687 and 715.
- Iraq has no nuclear power plants and therefore no requirement for uranium as fuel.
- Iraq has a number of nuclear research programmes in the fields of agriculture, biology, chemistry, materials and
pharmaceuticals. None of these activities requires more than tiny amounts of uranium which Iraq could supply from its
- Iraq’s research reactors are non-operational; two were bombed and one was never completed.
that while sanctions remain effective Iraq would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon. If they were removed or prove
ineffective, it would take Iraq at least five years to produce sufficient fissile material for a weapon indigenously.
However, we know that Iraq retains expertise and design data relating to nuclear weapons.
We therefore judge that if Iraq obtained fissile material and other essential components from foreign sources the
timeline for production of a nuclear weapon would be shortened and Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon in between one
and two years.
Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessment: 1999–2002
24. In mid-2001 the JIC drew attention to what it described as a “step-change” in progress on the Iraqi missile
programme over the previous two years. It was clear from intelligence that the range of Iraqi missiles which was
permitted by the UN and supposedly limited to 150kms was being extended and that work was under way on larger engines
for longer-range missiles.
25. In early 2002 the JIC concluded that Iraq had begun to develop missiles with a range of over 1,000kms. The JIC
assessed that if sanctions remained effective the Iraqis would not be able to produce such a missile before 2007.
Sanctions and the earlier work of the inspectors had caused significant problems for Iraqi missile development. In the
previous six months Iraqi foreign procurement efforts for the missile programme had been bolder. The JIC also assessed
that Iraq retained up to 20 al-Hussein missiles from before the Gulf War.
The Iraqi ballistic missile programme since 1998
26. Since the Gulf War, Iraq has been openly developing two short-range missiles up to a range of 150km, which are
permitted under UN Security Council Resolution 687. The al-Samoud liquid propellant missile has been extensively tested
and is being deployed to military units. Intelligence indicates that at least 50 have been produced. Intelligence also
indicates that Iraq has worked on extending its range to at least 200km in breach of UN Security Resolution 687.
Production of the solid propellant Ababil-100 (Figure 4) is also underway, probably as an unguided rocket at this stage.
There are also plans to extend its range to at least 200km. Compared to liquid propellant missiles, those powered by
FIGURE 4: ABABIL-100
propellant offer greater ease of storage, handling and mobility. They are also quicker to take into and out of action
and can stay at a high state of readiness for longer periods.
27. According to intelligence, Iraq has retained up to 20 al-Hussein missiles (Figure 5), in breach of UN Security
Council Resolution 687. These missiles were either hidden from the UN as complete systems, or re-assembled using
illegally retained engines and other components. We judge that the engineering expertise available would allow these
missiles to be maintained effectively, although the fact that at least some require re-assembly makes it difficult to
judge exactly how many could be available for use. They could be used with conventional, chemical or biological warheads
and, with a range of up to 650km, are capable of reaching a number of countries in the region including Cyprus, Turkey,
Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel.
FIGURE 5: AL-HUSSEIN
28. Intelligence has confirmed that Iraq wants to extend the range of its missile systems to over 1000km, enabling it to
threaten other regional neighbours. This work began in 1998, although efforts to regenerate the long-range ballistic
missile programme probably began in 1995. Iraq’s missile programmes employ hundreds of people. Satellite imagery (Figure
6) has shown a new engine test stand being constructed (A), which is larger than the current one used for al-Samoud (B),
and that formerly used for testing SCUD engines (C) which was dismantled under UNSCOM supervision. This new stand will
be capable of testing engines for medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) with ranges over 1000km, which are not
permitted under UN Security Council Resolution 687.
Such a facility would not be needed for systems that fall within the UN permitted range of 150km. The Iraqis have
recently taken measures to conceal activities at this site. Iraq is also working to obtain improved guidance technology
to increase missile accuracy.
FIGURE 6: AL-RAFAH/SHAHIYAT LIQUID PROPELLANT ENGINE STATIC TEST STAND
29. The success of UN restrictions means the development of new longer-range missiles is likely to be a slow process.
These restrictions impact particularly on the:
- availability of foreign expertise;
- conduct of test flights to ranges above 150km;
- acquisition of guidance and control technology.
30. Saddam remains committed to developing longer-range missiles. Even if sanctions remain effective, Iraq might achieve
a missile capability of over 1000km within 5 years (Figure 7 shows the range of Iraq’s various missiles).
31. Iraq has managed to rebuild much of the missile production infrastructure destroyed in the Gulf War and in Operation
Desert Fox in 1998 (see Part 2). New missile-related infrastructure is also under construction. Some aspects of this,
including rocket propellant mixing and casting facilities at the al-Mamoun Plant, appear to replicate those linked to
the prohibited Badr-2000 programme (with a planned range of 700–1000km) which were destroyed in the Gulf War or
dismantled by UNSCOM. A new plant at al-Mamoun for indigenously producing ammonium perchlorate, which is a key
ingredient in the production of solid propellant rocket motors, has also been constructed. This has been provided
illicitly by NEC Engineers Private Limited, an Indian chemical engineering firm with extensive links in Iraq, including
to other suspect facilities such as the Fallujah 2 chlorine plant. After an extensive investigation, the Indian
authorities have recently suspended its export licence, although other individuals and companies are still illicitly
procuring for Iraq.
32. Despite a UN embargo, Iraq has also made concerted efforts to acquire additional production technology, including
machine tools and raw materials, in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1051. The embargo has succeeded in blocking
many of these attempts, such as requests to buy magnesium powder and ammonium chloride. But we know from intelligence
that some items have found their way to the Iraqi ballistic missile programme. More will inevitably continue to do so.
Intelligence makes it clear that Iraqi procurement agents and front companies in third countries are seeking illicitly
to acquire propellant chemicals for Iraq’s ballistic missiles. This includes production level quantities of near
complete sets of solid propellant rocket motor ingredients such as aluminium powder, ammonium perchlorate and hydroxyl
terminated polybutadiene. There have also been attempts to acquire large quantities of liquid propellant chemicals such
as Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and diethylenetriamene. We judge these are intended to support production and
deployment of the al-Samoud and development of longer-range systems.
FIGURE 7: CURRENT AND PLANNED/POTENTIAL BALLISTIC MISSILES
FUNDING FOR THE WMD PROGRAMME
33. The UN has sought to restrict Iraq’s ability to generate funds for its chemical, biological and other military
programmes. For example, Iraq earns money legally under the UN Oil For Food Programme (OFF) established by UNSCR 986,
whereby the proceeds of oil sold through the UN are used to buy humanitarian supplies for Iraq. This money remains under
UN control and cannot be used for military procurement. However, the Iraqi regime continues to generate income outside
UN control either in the form of hard currency or barter goods (which in turn means existing Iraqi funds are freed up to
be spent on other things).
34. These illicit earnings go to the Iraqi regime. They are used for building new palaces, as well as purchasing luxury
goods and other civilian goods outside the OFF programme. Some of these funds are also used by Saddam Hussein to
maintain his armed forces, and to develop or acquire military equipment, including for chemical, biological, nuclear and
ballistic missile programmes. We do not know what proportion of these funds is used in this way. But we have seen no
evidence that Iraqi attempts to develop its weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missile programme, for example
through covert procurement of equipment from abroad, has been inhibited in any way by lack of funds. The steady increase
over the last three years in the availability of funds will enable Saddam to progress the programmes faster.
Iraq’s illicit earnings
Year Amount in $billions
1999 0.8 to 1
2000 1.5 to 2
2002 3 (estimate)
UN sanctions on Iraq prohibit all imports to and exports from Iraq. The UN must clear any goods entering or leaving. The
UN also administers the Oil for Food (OFF) programme. Any imports entering Iraq under the OFF programme are checked
against the Goods Review List for potential military or weapons of mass destruction utility.
HISTORY OF UN WEAPONS INSPECTIONS
1. During the 1990s, beginning in April 1991 immediately after the end of the Gulf War, the UN Security Council passed a
series of resolutions [see box] establishing the authority of UNSCOM and the IAEA to carry out the work of dismantling
Iraq’s arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes and long-range ballistic missiles.
These resolutions were passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which is the instrument that allows the UN Security
Council to authorise the use of military force to enforce its resolutions.
2. As outlined in UNSCR 687, Iraq’s chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes were also a breach of Iraq’s
- The 1925 Geneva Protocol which bans the use of chemical and biological weapons;
UN Security Council Resolutions relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction
UNSCR 687, April 1991 created the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and required Iraq to accept, unconditionally, “the destruction, removal or
rendering harmless, under international supervision” of its chemical and biological weapons, ballistic missiles with a
range greater than 150km, and their associated programmes, stocks, components, research and facilities.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was charged with abolition of Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme. UNSCOM and
the IAEA must report that their mission has been achieved before the Security Council can end sanctions. They have not
yet done so.
UNSCR 707, August 1991, stated that Iraq must provide full, final and complete disclosure of all its programmes for weapons of mass
destruction and provide unconditional and unrestricted access to UN inspectors. For over a decade Iraq has been in
breach of this resolution. Iraq must also cease all nuclear activities of any kind other than civil use of isotopes.
UNSCR 715, October 1991 approved plans prepared by UNSCOM and IAEA for the ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) arrangements to implement
UNSCR 687. Iraq did not accede to this until November 1993.
OMV was conducted from April 1995 to 15 December 1998, when the UN left Iraq.
UNSCR 1051, March 1996 stated that Iraq must declare the shipment of dual-use goods which could be used for mass destruction weaponry
- the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention which bans the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or
retention of biological weapons;
- the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which prohibits Iraq from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons.
3. UNSCR 687 obliged Iraq to provide declarations on all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction programmes within 15
days and accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless under international supervision of its chemical,
biological and nuclear programmes, and all ballistic missiles with a range beyond 150km. Iraq did not make a
satisfactory declaration within the specified time-frame.
Iraq accepted the UNSCRs and agreed to co-operate with UNSCOM. The history of the UN weapons inspections was
characterised by persistent Iraqi obstruction.
Iraqi Non-Co-operation with the Inspectors
4. The former Chairman of UNSCOM, Richard Butler, reported to the UN Security Council in January 1999 that in 1991 a
decision was taken by a high-level Iraqi Government committee to provide inspectors with only a portion of its
proscribed weapons, components, production capabilities and stocks.
UNSCOM concluded that Iraqi policy was based on the following actions:
- to provide only a portion of extant weapons stocks, releasing for destruction only those that were least modern;
- to retain the production capability and documentation necessary to revive programmes when possible;
- to conceal the full extent of its chemical weapons programme, including the VX nerve agent project; to conceal the
number and type of chemical and biological warheads for proscribed long-range missiles;
- and to conceal the existence of its biological weapons programme.
5. In December 1997 Richard Butler reported to the UN Security Council that Iraq had created a new category of sites,
“Presidential” and “sovereign”, from which it claimed that UNSCOM inspectors would henceforth be barred. The terms of
the ceasefire in 1991 foresaw no such limitation. However, Iraq consistently refused to allow UNSCOM inspectors access
to any of these eight Presidential sites. Many of these so-called “palaces” are in fact large compounds which are an
integral part of Iraqi counter-measures designed to hide weapons material (see photograph on p35).
UNSCOM and the IAEA were given the remit to designate any locations for inspection at any time, review any document and
interview any scientist, technician or other individual and seize any prohibited items for destruction.
A photograph of a “presidential site” or what have been called “palaces”.
The total area taken by Buckingham Palace and its grounds has been superimposed to demonstrate their comparative size
Boundary of presidential site
Iraq’s policy of deception
Iraq has admitted to UNSCOM to having a large, effective, system for hiding proscribed material including documentation,
components, production equipment and possibly biological and chemical agents and weapons from the UN. Shortly after the
adoption of UNSCR 687 in April 1991, an Administrative Security Committee (ASC) was formed with responsibility for
advising Saddam on the information which could be released to UNSCOM and the IAEA. The Committee consisted of senior
Military Industrial Commission (MIC) scientists from all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programmes. The Higher
Security Committee (HSC) of the Presidential Office was in overall command of deception operations. The system was
directed from the very highest political levels within the Presidential Office and involved, if not Saddam himself, his
youngest son, Qusai. The system for hiding proscribed material relies on high mobility and good command and control. It
uses lorries to move items at short notice and most hide sites appear to be located close to good road links and
telecommunications. The Baghdad area was particularly favoured. In addition to active measures to hide material from the
UN, Iraq has attempted to monitor, delay and collect intelligence on UN operations to aid its overall deception plan.
6. Once inspectors had arrived in Iraq, it quickly became apparent that the Iraqis would resort to a range of measures
(including physical threats and psychological intimidation of inspectors) to prevent UNSCOM and the IAEA from fulfilling
7. In response to such incidents, the President of the Security Council issued frequent statements calling on Iraq to
comply with its disarmament and monitoring obligations.
8. Iraq denied that it had pursued a biological weapons programme until July 1995.
In July 1995, Iraq acknowledged that biological agents had been produced on an industrial scale at al-Hakam. Following
the defection in August 1995 of Hussein Kamil, Saddam’s son-in-law and former Director of the Military Industrialisation
Commission, Iraq released over 2 million documents relating to its mass destruction weaponry programmes and acknowledged
that it had
Iraqi obstruction of UN weapons inspection teams
- firing warning shots in the air to prevent IAEA inspectors from intercepting nuclear related equipment (June 1991);
- keeping IAEA inspectors in a car park for 4 days and refusing to allow them to leave with incriminating documents on
Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme (September 1991);
- announcing that UN monitoring and verification plans were “unlawful” (October 1991);
- refusing UNSCOM inspectors access to the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture.
Threats were made to inspectors who remained on watch outside the building. The inspection team had reliable evidence
that the site contained archives related to proscribed activities;
- in 1991–2 Iraq objected to UNSCOM using its own helicopters and choosing its own flight plans. In January 1993 it
refused to allow UNSCOM the use of its own aircraft to fly into Iraq;
- refusing to allow UNSCOM to install remote-controlled monitoring cameras at two key missile sites (June-July 1993);
- repeatedly denying access to inspection teams (1991- December 1998);
- interfering with UNSCOM’s helicopter operations, threatening the safety of the aircraft and their crews (June 1997);
- demanding the end of U2 overflights and the withdrawal of US UNSCOM staff (October 1997);
- destroying documentary evidence of programmes for weapons of mass destruction (September 1997).
pursued a biological programme that led to the deployment of actual weapons.
Iraq admitted producing 183 biological weapons with a reserve of agent to fill considerably more.
9. Iraq tried to obstruct UNSCOM’s efforts to investigate the scale of its biological weapons programme. It created
forged documents to account for bacterial growth media, imported in the late 1980s, specifically for the production of
anthrax, botulinum toxin and probably plague. The documents were created to indicate that the material had been imported
by the State Company for Drugs and Medical Appliances Marketing for use in hospitals and distribution to local
authorities. Iraq also censored documents and scientific papers provided to the first UN inspection team, removing all
references to key individuals, weapons and industrial production of agents.
Inspection of Iraq’s biological weapons programme In the course of the first biological weapons inspection in August 1991, Iraq claimed that it had merely conducted a
military biological research programme. At the site visited, al-Salman, Iraq had removed equipment, documents and even
entire buildings. Later in the year, during a visit to the al-Hakam site, Iraq declared to UNSCOM inspectors that the
facility was used as a factory to produce proteins derived from yeast to feed animals.
Inspectors subsequently discovered that the plant was a central site for the production of anthrax spores and botulinum
toxin for weapons. The factory had also been sanitised by Iraqi officials to deceive inspectors. Iraq continued to
develop the al-Hakam site into the 1990s, misleading UNSCOM about its true purpose.
Another key site, the Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Institute at al-Dawrah which produced botulinum toxin and probably
anthrax was not divulged as part of the programme. Five years later, after intense pressure, Iraq acknowledged that tens
of tonnes of bacteriological warfare agent had been produced there and at al-Hakam.
As documents recovered in August 1995 were assessed, it became apparent that the full disclosure required by the UN was
far from complete.
Successive inspection teams went to Iraq to try to gain greater understanding of the programme and to obtain credible
supporting evidence. In July 1996 Iraq refused to discuss its past programme and doctrine forcing the team to withdraw
in protest. Monitoring teams were at the same time finding undisclosed equipment and materials associated with the past
programme. In response, Iraq grudgingly provided successive disclosures of its programme which were judged by UNSCOM and
specially convened international panels to be technically inadequate.
In late 1995 Iraq acknowledged weapons testing the biological agent ricin, but did not provide production information.
Two years later, in early 1997, UNSCOM discovered evidence that Iraq had produced ricin.
10. Iraq has yet to provide any documents concerning production of agent and subsequent weaponisation. Iraq destroyed,
unilaterally and illegally, some biological weapons in 1991 and 1992 making accounting for these weapons impossible. In
addition, Iraq cleansed a key site at al-Muthanna, its main research and development, production and weaponisation
facility for chemical warfare agents, of all evidence of a biological programme in the toxicology department, the
animal-house and weapons filling station.
11. Iraq refused to elaborate further on the programme during inspections in 1997 and 1998, confining discussion to
previous topics. In July 1998 Tariq Aziz personally intervened in the inspection process stating that the biological
programme was more secret and more closed than other mass destruction weaponry programmes.
He also played down the significance of the programme. Iraq has presented the biological weapons programme as the
personal undertaking of a few misguided scientists.
12. At the same time, Iraq tried to maintain its nuclear weapons programme via a concerted campaign to deceive IAEA
inspectors. In 1997 the IAEA Director General stated that the IAEA was “severely hampered by Iraq’s persistence in a
policy of concealment and understatement of the programme’s scope”.
13. Despite the conduct of the Iraqi authorities towards them, both UNSCOM and the IAEA Action Team have valuable
records of achievement in discovering and exposing Iraq’s biological weapons programme and destroying very large
quantities of chemical weapons stocks and missiles as well as the infrastructure for Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme.
14. Despite UNSCOM’s efforts, following the effective ejection of UN inspectors in December 1998 there remained a series
of significant unresolved disarmament issues. In summarising the situation in a report to the UN Security Council, the
UNSCOM Chairman, Richard Butler, indicated that:
- contrary to the requirement that destruction be conducted under international supervision “Iraq undertook extensive,
unilateral and secret destruction of large quantities of proscribed weapons and items”;
- and Iraq “also pursued a practice of concealment of proscribed items, including weapons, and a cover up of its
activities in contravention of Council resolutions”.
Overall, Richard Butler declared that obstructive Iraqi activity had had “a significant impact upon the Commission’s
Withdrawal of the inspectors
15. By the end of 1998 UNSCOM was in direct confrontation with the Iraqi Government which was refusing to co-operate.
The US and the UK had made clear that anything short of full co-operation would make military action unavoidable.
Richard Butler was requested to report to the UN Security Council in December 1998 and stated that, following a series
of direct confrontations, coupled with the systematic refusal by Iraq to co-operate, UNSCOM was no longer able to
perform its disarmament mandate. As a direct result on 16 December the weapons inspectors were withdrawn. Operation
Desert Fox was launched by the US and the UK a few hours afterwards.
Operation Desert Fox (16–19 December 1998)
Operation Desert Fox targeted industrial facilities related to Iraq’s ballistic missile programme and a suspect
biological warfare facility as well as military airfields and sites used by Iraq’s security organisations which are
involved in its weapons of mass destruction programmes. Key facilities associated with Saddam Hussein’s ballistic
missile programme were significantly degraded.
UNSCOM and IAEA achievements
UNSCOM surveyed 1015 sites in Iraq, carrying out 272 separate inspections.
Despite Iraqi obstruction and intimidation, UN inspectors uncovered details of chemical, biological, nuclear and
ballistic missile programmes. Major UNSCOM/IAEA achievements included:
- the destruction of 40,000 munitions for chemical weapons, 2,610 tonnes of chemical precursors and 411 tonnes of
chemical warfare agent;
- the dismantling of Iraq’s prime chemical weapons development and production complex at al-Muthanna and a range of key
- the destruction of 48 SCUD-type missiles, 11 mobile launchers and 56 sites, 30 warheads filled with chemical agents,
and 20 conventional warheads;
- the destruction of the al-Hakam biological weapons facility and a range of production equipment, seed stocks and
growth media for biological weapons;
- the discovery in 1991 of samples of indigenously-produced highly enriched uranium, forcing Iraq’s acknowledgement of
uranium enrichment programmes and attempts to preserve key components of its prohibited nuclear weapons programme;
- the removal and destruction of the infrastructure for the nuclear weapons programme, including the al-Athir
The situation since 1998
16. There have been no UN-mandated weapons inspections in Iraq since 1998. In an effort to enforce Iraqi compliance with
its disarmament and monitoring obligations, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1284 in December 1999. This
established the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) as a successor organisation
to UNSCOM and called on Iraq to give UNMOVIC inspectors “immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all
areas, facilities, equipment, records and means of transport”. It also set out the steps Iraq needed to take in return
for the eventual suspension and lifting of sanctions. A key measure of Iraqi compliance would be full co-operation with
UN inspectors, including unconditional, immediate and unrestricted access to any and all sites, personnel and documents.
17. For the past three years, Iraq has allowed the IAEA to carry out an annual inspection of a stockpile of nuclear
material (depleted natural and low-enriched uranium). This has led some countries and western commentators to conclude
erroneously that Iraq is meeting its nuclear disarmament and monitoring obligations. As the IAEA has pointed out in
recent weeks, this annual inspection does “not serve as a substitute for the verification activities required by the
relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council”.
18. Dr Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, and Dr Mohammed El-Baradei, the Director General of the IAEA, have
declared that in the absence of inspections it is impossible to verify Iraqi compliance with its UN disarmament and
monitoring obligations. In April 1999 an independent UN panel of experts noted that “the longer inspection and
monitoring activities remain suspended, the more difficult the comprehensive implementation of Security Council
resolutions becomes, increasing the risk that Iraq might reconstitute its proscribed weapons programmes”.
19. The departure of the inspectors greatly diminished the ability of the international community to monitor and assess
Iraq’s continuing attempts to reconstitute its chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
IRAQ UNDER SADDAM HUSSEIN
1. The Republic of Iraq is bounded by Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Syria and the Persian Gulf. Its
population of around 23 million is ethnically and religiously diverse. Approximately 77% are Arabs. Sunni Muslims form
around 17% of the Arab population and dominate the government. About 60% of Iraqis are Shias and 20% are Kurds. The
remaining 3% of the population consists of Assyrians, Turkomans, Armenians, Christians and Yazidis.
2. Public life in Iraq is nominally dominated by the Ba’ath Party (see box on p44).
But all real authority rests with Saddam and his immediate circle. Saddam’s family, tribe and a small number of
associates remain his most loyal supporters.
He uses them to convey his orders, including to members of the government.
3. Saddam uses patronage and violence to motivate his supporters and to control or eliminate opposition. Potential
rewards include social status, money and better access to goods. Saddam’s extensive security apparatus and Ba’ath Party
network provides oversight of Iraqi society, with informants in social, government and military organisations. Saddam
practises torture, execution and
Saddam Hussein’s rise to power
Saddam Hussein was born in 1937 in the Tikrit district, north of Baghdad. In 1957 he joined the Ba’ath Party. After
taking part in a failed attempt to assassinate the Iraqi President, Abdul Karim Qasim, Saddam escaped, first to Syria
and then to Egypt. In his absence he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Saddam returned to Baghdad in 1963 when the Ba’ath Party came to power.
He went into hiding after the Ba’ath fell from power later that year. He was captured and imprisoned, but in 1967
escaped and took over responsibility for Ba’ath security. Saddam set about imposing his will on the Party and
establishing himself at the centre of power.
The Ba’ath Party returned to power in 1968. In 1969 Saddam became Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council,
Deputy to the President, and Deputy Secretary General of the Regional Command of the Ba’ath. In 1970 he joined the
Party’s National Command and in 1977 was elected Assistant Secretary General. In July 1979, he took over the Presidency
of Iraq. Within days, five fellow members of the Revolutionary Command Council were accused of involvement in a coup
attempt. They and 17 others were summarily executed.
other forms of coercion against his enemies, real or suspected. His targets are not only those who have offended him,
but also their families, friends or colleagues.
4. Saddam acts to ensure that there are no other centres of power in Iraq. He has crushed parties and ethnic groups,
such as the communists and the Kurds, which might try to assert themselves. Members of the opposition abroad have been
the targets of assassination attempts conducted by Iraqi security services.
5. Army officers are an important part of the Iraqi government’s network of informers. Suspicion that officers have
ambitions other than the service of the President leads to immediate execution. It is routine for Saddam to take
pre-emptive action against those who he believes might conspire against him.
Internal Repression – the Kurds and the Shias
6. Saddam has pursued a long-term programme of persecution of the Iraqi Kurds, including through the use of chemical
weapons. During the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam appointed his cousin, Ali Hasan al-Majid, as his deputy in the north. In
Saddam Hussein’s security apparatus
Saddam relies on a long list of security organisations with overlapping responsibilities. The main ones are:
- The Special Security Organisation oversees Saddam’s security and monitors the loyalty of other security services. Its recruits are predominantly from
- The Special Republican Guard is equipped with the best available military equipment. Its members are selected on the basis of loyalty to the regime.
- The Directorate of General Security is primarily responsible for countering threats from the civilian population.
- The Directorate of General Intelligence monitors and suppresses dissident activities at home and abroad.
- The Directorate of Military Intelligence’s role includes the investigation of military personnel.
- The Saddam Fidayeen, under the control of Saddam’s son Udayy, has been used to deal with civil disturbances.
The Iraqi Ba’ath Party
The Ba’ath Party is the only legal political party in Iraq. It pervades all aspects of Iraqi life. Membership, around
700,000, is necessary for self-advancement and confers benefits from the regime.
1987-88, al-Majid led the “Anfal” campaign of attacks on Kurdish villages.
Amnesty International estimates that more than 100,000 Kurds were killed or disappeared during this period.
7. After the Gulf War in 1991 Kurds in the north of Iraq rose up against Baghdad’s rule. In response the Iraqi regime
killed or imprisoned thousands, prompting a humanitarian crisis. Over a million Kurds fled into the mountains and tried
to escape Iraq.
8. Persecution of Iraq’s Kurds continues, although the protection provided by the northern No-Fly Zone has helped to
curb the worst excesses. But outside this zone the Baghdad regime has continued a policy of persecution and
9. The regime has used chemical weapons against the Kurds, most notably in an attack on the town of Halabja in 1988 (see
Part 1 Chapter 2 paragraph 9). The implicit threat of the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds and others is an
important part of Saddam’s attempt to keep the civilian population under control.
10. The regime has tried to displace the traditional Kurdish and Turkoman populations of the areas under its control,
primarily in order to weaken Kurdish claims to the oil-rich area around the northern city of Kirkuk. Kurds and other
non-Arabs are forcibly ejected to the three northern Iraqi governorates, Dohuk, Arbil and Sulaimaniyah, which are under
de facto Kurdish control. According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) Special Rapporteur for
Iraq, 94,000 individuals have been expelled since 1991.
Agricultural land owned by Kurds has been confiscated and redistributed to Iraqi Arabs. Arabs from southern Iraq have
been offered incentives to move into the Kirkuk area.
11. After the 1979 revolution that ousted the Shah in Iran, Saddam intensified a campaign against the Shia Muslim
majority of Iraq, fearing that they might be encouraged by the new Shia regime in Iran.
12. On 1 March 1991, in the wake of the Gulf War, riots broke out in the southern city of Basra, spreading quickly to
other cities in Shia-dominated southern Iraq.
Repression and control: some examples
- A campaign of mass arrests and killing of Shia activists led to the execution of the Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr and his
sister in April 1980.
- In 1983 80 members of another leading Shia family were arrested. Six of them, all religious leaders, were executed.
- A massive chemical weapons attack on Kurds in Halabja town in March 1988 killing 5000 and injuring 10,000 more.
- A large number of officers from the Jabbur tribe were executed in the early 1990s for the alleged disloyalty of a few
The regime responded by killing thousands. Many Shia tried to escape to Iran and Saudi Arabia.
13. Some of the Shia hostile to the regime sought refuge in the marshland of southern Iraq. In order to subjugate the
area, Saddam embarked on a large-scale programme to drain the marshes to allow Iraqi ground forces to eliminate all
opposition there. The rural population of the area fled or were forced to move to southern cities or across the border
Saddam Hussein’s Wars
14. As well as ensuring his absolute control inside Iraq, Saddam has tried to make Iraq the dominant power of the
region. In pursuit of these objectives he has led Iraq into two wars of aggression against neighbours, the Iran-Iraq war
and the invasion of Kuwait.
15. With the fall of the Shah in Iran in 1979, relations between Iran and Iraq deteriorated sharply. In September 1980
Saddam renounced a border treaty he had agreed with Iran in 1975 ceding half of the Shatt al-Arab waterway to Iran.
Shortly thereafter, Saddam launched a large-scale invasion of Iran. He believed that he could take advantage of the
state of weakness, isolation and disorganisation he perceived in post-revolutionary Iran. He aimed to seize territory,
including that ceded to Iran a few years earlier, and to assert Iraq’s position as a leader of the Arab world. Saddam
expected it to be a short, sharp campaign. But the conflict lasted for eight years. Iraq fired over 500 ballistic
missiles at Iranian targets, including major cities.
16. It is estimated that the Iran-Iraq war cost the two sides a million casualties. Iraq used chemical weapons
extensively from 1984. Some twenty thousand Iranians were killed by mustard gas and the nerve agents tabun and sarin,
all of which Iraq still possesses. The UN Security Council considered the report prepared by a team of three specialists
appointed by the UN Secretary General in March 1986, following which the President made a statement condemning Iraqi use
of chemical weapons. This marked the first time a country had been named for violating the 1925 Geneva Convention
banning the use of chemical weapons.
17. The cost of the war ran into hundreds of billions of dollars for both sides. Iraq gained nothing. After the war
ended, Saddam resumed his previous pursuit of primacy in the Gulf. His policies involved spending huge sums of money on
Opposition to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war
During the war Saddam’s security apparatus ensured that any internal dissent or opposition was quickly eliminated. In
1982 he quickly purged a group within Iraq’s ruling clique which had suggested that the war might be brought to an end
more quickly if Saddam stood down.
military equipment. But Iraq was burdened by debt incurred during the war and the price of oil, Iraq’s only major
export, was low.
18. By 1990 Iraq’s financial problems were severe. Saddam looked at ways to press the oil-producing states of the Gulf
to force up the price of crude oil by limiting production and waive the $40 billion that they had loaned Iraq during its
war with Iran. Kuwait had made some concessions over production ceilings. But Saddam blamed Kuwait for over-production.
When his threats and blandishments failed, Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. He believed that occupying Kuwait could
19. Saddam also sought to justify the conquest of Kuwait on other grounds. Like other Iraqi leaders before him, he
claimed that, as Kuwait’s rulers had come under the jurisdiction of the governors of Basra in the time of the Ottoman
Empire, Kuwait should belong to Iraq.
20. During its occupation of Kuwait, Iraq denied access to the Red Cross, which has a mandate to provide protection and
assistance to civilians affected by international armed conflict. The death penalty was imposed for relatively minor
“crimes” such as looting and hoarding food.
21. In an attempt to deter military action to expel it from Kuwait, the Iraqi regime took hostage several hundred
foreign nationals (including children) in Iraq and Kuwait and prevented thousands more from leaving, in direct
contravention of international humanitarian law. Hostages were held as human shields at a number of strategic military
and civilian sites.
22. At the end of the Gulf War, the Iraqi army fleeing Kuwait set fire to over 1,160 Kuwaiti oil wells with serious
23. More than 600 Kuwaiti and other prisoners of war and missing persons are still unaccounted for. Iraq refuses to
comply with its UN obligation to account for the missing. It has provided sufficient information to close only three
Abuses by Iraqi forces in Kuwait
- Robbery and rape of Kuwaitis and expatriates.
- Summary executions.
- People dragged from their homes and held in improvised detention centres.
- Amnesty International has listed 38 methods of torture used by the Iraqi occupiers. These included beatings, breaking
of limbs, extracting finger and toenails, inserting bottle necks into the rectum, and subjecting detainees to mock
- Kuwaiti civilians arrested for “crimes” such as wearing beards.
Abuse of human rights
24. This section draws on reports of human rights abuses from authoritative international organisations, including
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
25. Human rights abuses continue within Iraq. People continue to be arrested and detained on suspicion of political or
religious activities or often because they are related to members of the opposition. Executions are carried out without
due process of law. Relatives are often prevented from burying the victims in accordance with Islamic practice.
Thousands of prisoners have been executed.
26. Saddam has issued a series of decrees establishing severe penalties for criminal offences. These include amputation,
branding, cutting off ears, and other forms of mutilation. Anyone found guilty of slandering the President has their
Human rights: abuses under Saddam Hussein
- 4000 prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib Prison in 1984.
- 3000 prisoners were executed at the Mahjar Prison between 1993 and 1998.
- About 2500 prisoners were executed between 1997 and 1999 in a “prison cleansing” campaign.
- 122 male prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib prison in February/ March 2000. A further 23 political prisoners were
executed there in October 2001.
- In October 2000 dozens of women accused of prostitution were beheaded without any judicial process. Some were accused
for political reasons.
- Women prisoners at Mahjar are routinely raped by their guards.
- Methods of torture used in Iraqi jails include using electric drills to mutilate hands, pulling out fingernails,
knife cuts, sexual attacks and ‘official rape’.
- Prisoners at the Qurtiyya Prison in Baghdad and elsewhere are kept in metal boxes the size of tea chests. If they do
not confess they are left to die.
Saddam Hussein’s family
27. Saddam’s son Udayy maintained a private torture chamber known as the Red Room in a building on the banks of the
Tigris disguised as an electricity installation. He created a militia in 1994 which has used swords to execute victims
outside their own homes. He has personally executed dissidents, for instance in the Shia uprising at Basra which
followed the Gulf War.
28. Members of Saddam’s family are also subject to persecution. A cousin of Saddam, Ala Abd al-Qadir al-Majid, fled to
Jordan from Iraq citing disagreements with the regime over business matters. He returned to Iraq after the Iraqi
Ambassador in Jordan declared publicly that his life was not in danger.
He was met at the border by Tahir Habbush, Head of the Directorate of General Intelligence (the Mukhabarat), and taken
to a farm owned by Ali Hasan al-Majid.
At the farm Ala was tied to a tree and executed by members of his immediate family who, following orders from Saddam,
took it in turns to shoot him
Human Rights – mistreatment in Abu Ghraib Prison
Abdallah, a member of the Ba’ath Party whose loyalty became suspect was imprisoned for four years at Abu Ghraib in the
1980s. On the second day of his imprisonment, the men were forced to walk between two rows of five guards each to
receive their containers of food. While walking to get the food, they were beaten by the guards with plastic telephone
cables. They had to return to their cells the same way, so that a walk to get breakfast resulted in twenty lashes.
According to Abdallah, “It wasn’t that bad going to get the food, but coming back the food was spilled when we were
beaten.” The same procedure was used when the men went to the bathroom. On the third day, the torture continued. “We
were removed from our cells and beaten with plastic pipes.
This surprised us, because we were asked no question. Possibly it was being done to break our morale”, Abdallah
speculated. The torture escalated to sixteen sessions daily. The treatment was organised and systematic. Abdallah was
held alone in a 3x2-meter room that opened onto a corridor. “We were allowed to go to the toilet three times a day, then
they reduced the toilet to once a day for only one minute. I went for four years without a shower or a wash”, Abdallah
said. He also learned to cope with the deprivation and the hunger that accompanied his detention: “I taught myself to
drink a minimum amount of water because there was no placed to urinate. They used wooden sticks to beat us and sometimes
the sticks would break. I found a piece of a stick, covered with blood, and managed to bring it back to my room. I ate
it for three days. A person who is hungry can eat anything. Pieces of our bodies started falling off from the beatings
and our skin was so dry that it began to fall off. I ate pieces of my own body. “No one, not Pushkin, not Mahfouz, can
describe what happened to us. It is impossible to describe what living this day to day was like.
I was totally naked the entire time. Half of the original groups [of about thirty men] died. It was a slow type of
continuous physical and psychological torture.
Sometimes, it seemed that orders came to kill one of us, and he would be beaten to death”. ( Source: Human Rights Watch)
29. Some 40 of Saddam’s relatives, including women and children, have been killed.
His sons-in-law Hussein and Saddam Kamil had defected in 1995 and returned to Iraq from Jordan after the Iraqi
government had announced amnesties for them. They were executed in February 1996.
Human Rights – individual testimony
“…I saw a friend of mine, al-Shaikh Nasser Taresh al-Sa’idi, naked. He was handcuffed and a piece of wood was placed
between his elbows and his knees. Two ends of the wood were placed on two high chairs and al-Shaikh Nasser was being
suspended like a chicken. This method of torture is known as al-Khaygania (a reference to a former security director
known as al-Khaygani).
An electric wire was attached to al-Shaikh Nasser’s penis and another one attached to one of his toes. He was asked if
he could identify me and he said “this is al-Shaikh Yahya”. They took me to another room and then after about 10 minutes
they stripped me of my clothes and a security officer said “the person you saw has confessed against you”. He said to me
“You followers of [Ayatollah] al-Sadr have carried out acts harmful to the security of the country and have been
distributing anti-government statements coming from abroad”. He asked if I have any contact with an Iraqi religious
scholar based in Iran who has been signing these statements. I said “I do not have any contacts with him”… I was then
left suspended in the same manner as al-Shaikh al-Sa’idi. My face was looking upward. They attached an electric wire on
my penis and the other end of the wire is attached to an electric motor. One security man was hitting my feet with a
cable. Electric shocks were applied every few minutes and were increased. I must have been suspended for more than an
hour. I lost consciousness. They took me to another room and made me walk even though my feet were swollen from beating…
They repeated this method a few times.” ( Source: Amnesty International, testimony from an Iraqi theology student from Saddam City)
Human Rights –individual testimony
In December 1996, a Kurdish businessman from Baghdad was arrested outside his house by plainclothes security men.
Initially his family did not know his whereabouts and went from one police station to another inquiring about him. Then
they found out that he was being held in the headquarters of the General Security Directorate in Baghdad. The family was
not allowed to visit him. Eleven months later the family was told by the authorities that he had been executed and that
they should go and collect his body. His body bore evident signs of torture. His eyes were gouged out and the empty eye
sockets filled with paper. His right wrist and left leg were broken. The family was not given any reason for his arrest
and subsequent execution. However, they suspected that he was executed because of his friendship with a retired army
general who had links with the Iraqi opposition outside the country and who was arrested just before his arrest and also
executed. ( Source: Amnesty International)
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