Due to the lack of confirming evidence, it is difficult to assess the reports of low-level chemical agent detection by Czech and French forces between January 19 and 24, 1991. Consequently, the assessments of the incidents described in this report will remain interim until more substantial evidence is forthcoming. It is well documented that the Czech and French detectors alarmed, but many unknowns still remain, and there is little evidence of independent confirmation of the possible detections. This investigation has found no evidence of missile or artillery attacks, and no reported enemy activity at the time of the Czech and French reports. Further, the Czechs and the French have found no evidence of injuries resulting from chemical exposure in the areas of the reported detections.
Of their four possible chemical detections, the government of the Czech Republic recognizes only two, the January 19th report of possible nerve agent vapor that occurred near Hafar al Batin (Incident 1) and the report of the discolored sand near KKMC on January 24 (Incident 6). Although the United States cannot independently verify the Czech reports, the DoD is confident in the Czechs ability to detect the presence of chemical agents. This confidence is based on in-depth analysis by US technical experts of the Czechs technical competence and the reliability of the Czech equipment.
The government of France has never acknowledged any of their reported detections, and despite repeated requests of the French government, this investigation received no information about their detections. Consequently, their chemical detection capability and the technical accuracy of the detections cannot be assessed, and the information about the detections is incomplete.
Starting in late 1993, the US intelligence community, and the Department of Defense began to investigate the possible sources of the Czech and French reports. Efforts to determine possible sources included talks with Coalition nations, including the Czechs and French, examination of Czech equipment, research in DoD records, and computer modeling of hundreds of possible scenarios.
Despite an exhaustive examination, a distinct source of the chemical agents could not be determined. During the war, fallout from Coalition bombing of Iraqi chemical facilities was repeatedly speculated to be the cause of the possible detections. One proposed fallout theory postulated that winds aloft carried the chemicals to the locations where the detections took place. However, this analysis was based upon the releases occurring during the early morning hours on the dates of the detections and investigators have no evidence that this occurred. Investigators have been unable to identify a large release of agent from Coalition bombings of the An Nasiriyah, Al Muthanna, Ukhaydir, or Muhammadiyat facilities occurring prior to the Czech detections on January 19, 1991. United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors have concluded that no chemical munitions were destroyed at An Nasiriyah during the January 17th bombing; therefore, it was eliminated as a possible source for the detections. Furthermore, the earliest possible release date for Al Muthanna has been determined to be February 8, 1991. On January 20, 1991, Coalition bombing of the Ukhaydir facility may have caused a release of Mustard agent. The resulting Mustard plume is projected to have extended only 40 kilometers from the facility. Ukhaydir is several hundred kilometers from the Saudi border. Therefore, this release could not be the cause of any of the reported detections. Due to the complexity of the Muhammadiyat facility, research is continuing to determine when or if chemical munitions were destroyed there. Consequently, it is unclear at this time whether any chemical plume, even one below the general population limit (i.e., at a level the US government considers safe and non-threatening) reached the locations of the Czech and French detections in Hafar Al Batin and KKMC. Although the CIAs preliminary work, based on the early modeling of the possible release of agents from all four sites, concluded that they were not the source of Czech or French detections, investigators are reassessing each incident using more sophisticated techniques. The results will be published in separate case narratives.
As mentioned earlier, the Czech reports on January 19th (Incident 1) and on January 24th (Incident 6) were assessed as valid by the DoD in 1993, and credible by the CIA in 1996. These assessments were based on the capabilities of the Czech equipment and the known processes used by the Czech personnel. However, capable equipment and known analyses processes are insufficient to substantiate the presence of chemical warfare agents. To develop an assessment, a methodology must be followed that requires evidence of what was detected and under what circumstances it was detectect-i.e., some independent confirmation. Although this investigation has not been able to uncover such independent confirmation, the evidence that has been found does not change the original assessments.
For the remaining Czech incident and the combined Czech and French incidents, investigators have found no evidence that confirms any detection, obtained no details about them from either the French or the Czechs, and have been unable to postulate reasonable or logical potential sources for the chemical agents reported. Consequently, due to the overall lack of information, this investigations assessment for Incidents 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 as "Indeterminate." Without additional details, such as a potential source for the contamination, a more definitive assessment cannot be made.
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