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CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE IN THE KUWAIT THEATER OF OPERATIONS; IRAQ'S CAPABILITY AND POSTURING (U)
CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE
IN THE KUWAIT THEATER OF OPERATIONS;
IRAQ'S CAPABILITY AND POSTURING (U)
Iraq maintains the most extensive chemical and biological warfare
capability in the Third World. Baghdad's forces have a range of
chemical agents and delivery means, as well as the experience and
training needed to use chemical weapons effectively. Biological
weapons have only been developed recently.
Iraq is likely to use CW as an integral part of tactical
operations to protect key political, military, or economic
strategic areas. One such area is the northern portion of the
Kuwait Theatre of Operations (KTO).
At present, Iraq is not prepared to launch an offensive against
allied forces in Saudi Arabia supported by chemical weapons. Iraq
is prepared to defend some strategic assets in the KTO with
chemical weapons including the Rumailah oil field and Warbah and
Bubiyan Islands in response to an attack in southern Kuwait.
The effectiveness of long-range chemical weapons against deep
targets is unpredictable. We believe Iraq calculates chemical use
against these targets, especially from aircraft, as an
Iraq is assessed to have some biological delivery capability. The
use of BW weapons by Iraq would probably be strategic, prior to
the initiation of hostilities. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ]
(U) Iraq's CBW Capabilities
Chemical Agents (See Table 1.) Iraq's CW agents used in the war
with Iran include the persistent blister agent mustard, the
semipersistent nerve agents tabun (GA) and GF, and the
nonpersistent nerve agent sarin (GB). After the war, Iraq
investigated and may have subsequently produced small amounts of
the persistent nerve agent VX. The nerve agent soman (GD) and the
psychochemical BZ may also be under development, and Iraq may have
an interest in cyanide agents and phosgene oxime.
Iraq has produced chemical agents impregnated on a carrier
material, usually a fine dust. These dusty agents, are
disseminated as a dry aerosol and may be difficult to detect.
They can cause casualties more rapidly than the agent alone and
have the ability to penetrate semi-permeable protective suits
under certain conditions. In 1984, Iraq used weapons containing a
impregnated with mustard against Iran. Iraq has the technology to
develop dusty forms of nerve agents and possibly other toxic
materials, but we do not believe they have done so.
Biological Weapons Iraq has developed anthrax and botulinum toxin
as biological agents. Other agents such as staphylococcal
enterotoxin, clostridium and cholera may also have been
(U) Chemical Weapons Iraq has a variety of chemical weapons
systems available (See Table 2.)
Biological Weapons Iraq is assessed to have weaponized
anthrax and botulinum toxin. The type and number of weapons or
dissemination systems Iraq has are not known. Candidate systems
include cluster bombs, missile warheads and spray systems.
(U) Binary Weapons
In April 1990, Saddam Husayn announced that Iraq had binary
chemical weapons. DIA assesses that Iraq has produced at least
some binary weapons, most likely containing agent GB or GF. VX,
an agent under development, is also a candidate for a binary
configuration. Iraq's unitary chemical stockpile is assessed to
have low agent purity and therefore limited storage life; this is
an especially serious problem for their nerve agents. Since the
component chemicals in binaries are easier to purify than finished
chemical agent due to their lower toxicity, binaries would help
extend the shelf life of Baghdad's CW stocks. Binary fills
simplify production and storage of chemical munitions, but binary
rounds deliver relatively less agent per round than unitary
(U) CBW Delivery
Baghdad used several means of chemical delivery in the war with
Iran: aerial bombs, air-to-surface rockets, artillery and mortar
rounds, and multiple rocket launchers (MRL). After the war, Iraq
added cluster bombs and missile warheads to its arsenal. Iraq
also increased the size of the MRL warhead, tripling its agent
content. Iraq is the only country known to have helicopter
rockets with chemical fills.
Iraqi forces made effective use of their chemical superiority in
the final offensives in the war with Iran. During the spring 1988
campaigns, Iraq had carefully rehearsed its scheme for attacks
against Iranian offensives. The Iraqi battle plans called for use
of chemicals against selected targets. Using chemicals at
advantageous times, forward targets were neutralized using
nonpersistent nerve agent, while deeper targets were saturated
with persistent agents. Since Iran had only limited protective
means, these attacks were often effective. Also, there was no
credible threat of Iranian retaliation with chemical weapons.
Prior to these 1988 offensive uses, Iraqi chemical attacks were
not as effective due to inexperience which was manifested in a
of weather conditions and improper weapons delivery. While Iraq
used chemicals often, their effectiveness was also reduced by
restrictive control of the weapons. When chemical release
authority was delegated to field commanders later in the war, the
effectiveness of chemical attacks improved.
Biological Tactics There is no reliable information on
how Iraq might use their BW weapons. The most suitable way to use
these weapons is in a clandestine manner prior to the outset of
hostilities. The incubation period of hours to days that occurs
between the initial exposure and illness or death make BW an
unreliable tactical weapon. BW does have the potential to Case
injury and death to a large population over widely dispersed
(U) Current Deployment
Iraq is prepared to use chemical weapons in some parts of
the KTO. Iraq has concentrated its CW support activity in that
portion of the KTO where the Republican Guards and supporting
artillery are deployed. Based on the current defensive posture of
Iraqi ground forces, any near term Iraqi chemical attack in the
KTO would most likely occur in response to an allied incursion
an area of strategic importance to Iraq. Accordingly, Iraq has
been doing CW training and establishing decontamination stations
in critical locations to support chemical weapons use in defense
of strategic areas.
(U) Ground Forces
Iraqi disposition in Kuwait is to defend on successive
lines from the Saudi border to the northern portion of Kuwait.
Disposition of ground and air forces indicates that the northern
area, including the Rumailah oil field and Warbah and Bubiyan
islands will be the final defensive line. The disposition of
CW units and instances of CW-related activity show that Iraq has
prepared an area in Southeastern Iraq/Northern Kuwait which
coincides with this line. The assessment that Iraq is likely to
use CW in this area is based on the presence of GFC units,
emphasis on CW training, CW training sites, and deployment of
preferred systems for chemical delivery.
Republican Guards, probably Iraq's most experienced units
in conducting combat operations with chemical weapons, have been
deployed in the northern KTO. Numerous instances of CW training
and chemical unit field deployments have also been noted in these
areas. Chemical munitions may already be fielded with these
units; if not, they could be supplied with chemical ammunition
Iraq regards its 155mm artillery as the weapon of choice
for ground force delivery of CW due to its extended range of about
38-40 km. Over half of the 155mm artillery battalions in the KTO
are located within Republican Guard Assembly areas and near
Authority for initial offensive or defensive use of CW
probably rests with Saddam Husayn; however, during the Iran-Iraq
war authority for ground force CW employment was subsequently
delegated to individual Corps Commanders. The Republican Guard
Forces Command (RGFC) would probably be the first corps level
organization to receive this authority and likely has integrated
CW into operational plans.
Iraqi chemical capabilities along the Iraq-Turkey-Syria
border have also been improved. One decontamination site has been
located in this area. CW training for units in this area as well
as other chemical-related activity along the Turkish border
suggest a high degree of readiness to operate in a chemically
contaminated environment in order to protect to the northern
border. At present
Iraq does not have significant force deployments, extensive CW
capable artillery systems, or other CW assets in the north and,
therefore, is much less prepared to conduct CW operations there
than in the KTO.
(U) Air Force
CW-related activity at airfields and at CW bunkers near
airfields indicates that Iraq has prepared for air delivery of
chemical weapons. Since the start of the current crisis
CW-related activity, air-delivery systems, and chemical bunkers
have been noted at the following airfields: H3, Mosul, Qayarrah
West, Kirkuk, Al Taqqadum, Tallil, Ubaydah bin Al Jarrah, and
helicopter base). For an air delivered CW attack in the KTO, Iraq
would likely stage aircraft from Tall iI and An Nasiriyah because
of their proximity to the front.
Prior to a chemical attack during the Iran-Iraq War,
stake-bed trucks, special canisters and crates, and
decontamination vehicles handled chemical munitions at special
bunkers and airfields. Once use of CW had been authorized, the
munitions were loaded onto CW-capable aircraft, primarily Fitters
helicopters. This activity has not yet been noted at any of the
DIA believes Iraq has chemical warheads for its modified
SCUD-B short range ballistic missiles (SRBM). Due to the poor
accuracy and limited chemical payloads of the missiles they have
only limited military effectiveness. However, they could be used
as terror weapons against civilian population centers.
Chemical-related activity has been noted near SCUD launch sites at
H2 in Western Iraq and at the two launch positions northwest of Al
Basrah in Southern Iraq.
DIA believes that most of Iraq's chemical munitions remain
in Iraq. Few indicators of chemical weapons deployment have been
observed in the KTO. The special storage bunkers used to store
chemicals at other locations in Iraq have not been established in
Kuwait. The Ras Al Qulayah naval base has a decontamination unit
and an associated decontamination site, and the Al Jaber airfield
has some hardened hangarettes. If Iraq deploys chemicals to the
KTO, these sites could be storage or staging areas for chemical
Recently, some CW decontamination trenches have been
prepared in Kuwait. There are also indications that some chemical
defense units may have deployed to Kuwait at key points in the
Iraqi defensive scheme.
(U) Likelihood of CW use
Iraqi use of chemical weapons against the allied forces in
Saudi Arabia or Israel is less likely than was the continued use
of these weapons during the war with Iran. The allied forces have
significantly greater military capabilities than Iran had during
the Iran-Iraq war. Before initiating chemical warfare, Iraq must
consider several factors: quality of opposing forces, uncertainty
of results, reliability of supply, and possible retaliation.
Compared with the poorly trained and equipped Iranian
troops, Iraq now faces forces with effective chemical protective
equipment and training. Iraqi intelligence has concluded that
allied force protective measures are ineffective, however.
During the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq used its air superiority to
deliver bombs on virtually any target. In the Desert Shield
situation, allied air defenses and air superiority will make
delivery by Iraqi aircraft difficult at best. Deep targets could
be attacked by missiles, but such attacks would be of questionable
reliability due to limited payloads and accuracy.
The generally poor quality of chemical agent in Iraq's
arsenal will probably reduce the reliability of Iraq's chemical
attacks. Iraq is trying to improve agent quality by introducing
binary weapons into their inventory, but the extent of this
substitution for unitary munitions is unknown.
If CW production facilities are destroyed, Iraq could be
forced into a decision to use their deployed chemical weapons
quickly before losing a chemical option. On the other hand, they
might conserve use of CW until a crucial need existed. Due to the
poor quality of at least some of their chemical stocks, Iraq could
be forced into a "use it or lose it" situation with their
Chemical use against the allied forces would risk
retaliation in kind. Syria, Egypt and the United States have
chemical arsenals, and could retaliate with chemicals. The
United, Kingdom has threatened a nuclear response to chemical
attacks. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(5) ]
Use of biological agents, if confirmed and traced to Iraq,
could lead to severe retaliation.
(U) Possible Targets
Airbases, supply centers or assembly areas in Saudi Arabia
could be targets for chemical attacks. Such attacks would have a
low probability of halting military operations, however. Iraq
would face a determined, capable air defense system which would
make it difficult to achieve reliable delivery of aerial bombs.
The only reliable means of penetrating these defenses would be the
use of missiles. However, Iraq's missiles are inaccurate, and
have limited agent payloads; launching enough missiles to assure
commanders that airbase operations could be halted or reduced
could not be done with the present number of Iraqi missile
launchers. This problem is most severe for the extended range Al
Husayn and Al Abbas missiles.
A variant of an all-out attack on an airbase would be launching a
few missiles at the base in an attempt to force use of protective
ensembles. This less certain course could result in a lower level
of activity at the airbase, reducing sortie rates and overall
effectiveness of airbases defenses. Such a tactic could make the
base more vulnerable to a later attack since the personnel manning
the base would suffer a significant degradation of long and short
term performance through heat stress as well as undetermined
Special forces attacks using chemicals or possibly biological
agents are another means of introducing these agents against
targets in the rear area.
Terrorists use of chemicals against civilian or military targets
could be a more likely way to employ chemicals. Such use might be
difficult to trace to Iraqi origins. Iraq has threatened to use
terrorism against Western forces and may calculate that such use
is an acceptable risk. Supply of chemical or possibly biological
agents to terrorists could be part of Iraq's strategy.
Iraq is expected to retain its significant chemical and biological
capability, and will likely attempt to improve its capability to
deliver both chemical and biological agents. As a result of
Iraq's use of chemicals in the war with Iran, Baghdad recognizes
the utility of chemical arsenal. Since their BW arsenal is a new
development, the probable effectiveness of biological weapons
cannot be assessed.
While Iraq has shown that it can use chemicals effectively, use of
chemicals against allied forces in Saudi Arabia or against Israel
is not certain. Compared to Iran, the allied forces in Saudi
Arabia are much better prepared to cope with chemical attacks.
Also, the threat of allied force retaliation with conventional,
chemical or nuclear weapons will have to be an important
consideration in Iraqi war planning for chemical strikes.
Iraq is not prepared to launch an offensive supported by chemical
weapons at this time against allied forces in Saudi Arabia. Their
force disposition and deployment will to be changed significantly
to support such a course.
DIA assesses that chemical attacks against deep targets in Saudi
Arabia have only limited changes of success as long as air defense
systems, protective training and discipline are maintained in a
high state of readiness. The Iraqi chemical arsenal will have to
achieve further improvements in weapons accuracy and performance
to assure Baghdad's commanders that chemical attacks are
The recent introduction of biological weapons into Iraq's arsenal
is difficult to assess. The potential of biological weapons to
cause death and injury is greater than that of chemical weapons
due to their greater toxicity and lethality. However, the agents
Iraq has selected for weaponization are most suitable for
strategic use prior to the outset of hostilities.
At present, Iraq is not ready to take advantage of any
vulnerabilities created by a biological attack, and is therefore
unlikely to use these weapons.
[ (b)(6) ]
TABLE 1 IRAQ-CHEMICAL AGENTS (U)
AGENT STATUS TYPE PERSISTENCE
Mustard Confirmed Vesicant Persistent
Sarin Confirmed Nerve Nonpersistent
Tabun Confirmed Nerve Semipersistent
GF Confirmed Nerve Semipersistent
Dusty Mustard Confirmed Vesicant Nonpersistent
VX Probable Nerve Persistent
Soman Possible Nerve Semipersistent
* Dusty Mustard is a dissemination means, not a different agent.
This material is a chemical agent impregnated on a carrier
material. The persistence of dusty mustard depends on the
carrier's physical characteristics, while its toxity is a result
of the mustard agent on the dust.
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