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Use of Radioactive Material in SCUD Warhead (S)

Filename:005bk.91p

[   (b)(2)   ][   (b)(6)   ]

	19 Feb 91

Background Paper for the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

SUBJECT:   Use of Radioactive Material in SCUD Warhead (S)

1.  PURPOSE:  To provide an assessment of the likelihood and 
effect of Iraqi use of radioactive material in SCUD warhead.

2.  POINTS OF MAJOR INTEREST:

    a.  Likelihood of Use:  Iraq has the potential to develop and 
use a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) based on placing 
radioactive material in a SCUD warhead.  There is no [   (b)(1) 
sec 1.3(a)(4)   ] that this is being done, but Iraq has made many 
claims about having surprise weapons.  Iraq's leadership almost 
certainly intends to use all available weaponry at its disposal if 
the viability of the Saddam-led Baath regime is threatened.  This 
situation would pertain if Saddam were to be removed and succeeded 
by other members of the Revolutionary Command Council, as well.  
DIA also considers it likely that if Iraq's borders are breached 
by coalition ground forces that this event too, would cross Iraq's 
threshold for employing nonconventional weapons.  Iraq's leaders 
are reasonably well-informed on U.S. nuclear and chemical 
capabilities.  A U.S. threat of retaliation is unlikely to deter 
Iraq.  Inside the Kuwait Theater of Operations (KTO), Iraq would 
probably employ nonconventional weapons, like the RDD, if its 
forces were about to suffer a significant and serious defeat.

    b.  Availability of Radioactive Material:  Iraq has four 
sources of radioactive materials: spent reactor fuel, commercially 
produced and purchased radioisotopes (i.e., Cobalt 60 for medical 
uses), Iraqi made radioisotopes, and low level radioactive waste 
from laboratory and medical procedures.  Little is known about the 
total inventory of Iraqi radioactive material, but the last two
sources would probably be very low activity or short lived 
medical/experimental isotopes, and the overall inventory is 
assessed to be quite small.  

    c.  Area Contaminated:  Area of contamination is a complex 
question that varies with:

        (l)  Weight of warhead (and therefore range of SCUD):  
Determines amount of material spread.

        (2)  Ratio of explosive weight to radioactive material 
weight:  More explosive means wider dispersion pattern, but less 
active material carried.

        (3)  Height of burst:  The higher the burst, the wider the 
pattern.

        (4)  Particle size of contaminant:  Larger particles 
travel farther (in the absence of wind effects), but are easier to 
find and remove.  If the goal is to produce a heavy concentration 
to greatly restrict access, then the area of contamination will 
necessarily be smaller than if the goal is to spread material out 
as much as possible as a weapon of psychological terror (if not 
actual danger) against civilian populations.

    d.  Delivery Scenarios:  Iraq could deliver its radioactive 
material in three forms: liquid solution, mechanically chopped 
(pre-loading) small pellets, and large, crude chunks.  Iraq has 
not demonstrated nor is assessed to have either a liquid filled 
warhead or an airburst fuse, however, there are three potential 
delivery scenarios: maximum pellet/chunk dispersion using largest 
possible high explosive warhead (short range, less than 300 km); 
pellet/chunk dispersion using less energetic warhead (longer 
range, 300-600 km);'and low airburst liquid or powder wind driven 
dispersion in the manner of chemical agents  Pellet (or chunk) 
dispersion would be very uneven, with discrete pieces scattered or 
imbedded throughout the area.  Ground burst could scatter pieces 
to approximately the same maximum distances as airburst, but far 
more fragments would be contained much closer (several hundred 
meters) to the point of impact. Liquid or powder dispersion 
provides more uniform, difficult to remove coverage.  Processing 
of material into liquid, powder, or pellet form could be difficult 
and dangerous to operators.  High activity warheads could be very 
dangerous to handling and launch crews.  Airburst could be caused 
by SCUD intercept.

        (l)  Maximum dispersal is only available at short ranges 
due to weight of high explosive required and could contaminate ; 3 
mile diameter circle [   (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)   ], but at a fairly 
low level of contamination.

        (2)  Liquid dispersal in the same manner as for chemical 
agents could result in a contaminated area of several square 
miles, with hazard dropping off rapidly with distance from 
explosion.

        (3)  Less energetic pellet/chunk dispersion for longer 
range warhead, would most likely result in a contaminated area 
about 900 feet in diameter.  Some larger pieces could be thrown 
several thousand feet.

        (4)  Ground burst would produce contamination over several 
hundred meter radius, although some larger pieces may be thrown 
several thousand feet.

3.  EXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS:

    a.  In no case is an RDD expected to be militarily 
significant.  U.S. forces in the theater have equipment and 
training for operations in a nuclear environment, an environment 
that an RDD does not even approach.  U.S. NBC protective clothing 
cannot prevent soldiers from receiving radiation doses in a 
contaminated environment, but does shield against some radiation 
types and
prevents direct skin and lung contact.  This, coupled with proper 
radiation monitoring and exposure time limitations, provides 
excellent practical protection.

    b.  Without a detailed knowledge of the Iraqi radioisotope 
inventory, the degree of possible contamination is impossible to 
predict.  Any dispersal pattern will produce small areas of 
relatively high contamination, and large areas much less so.  In 
no circumstance is an RDD expected to produce an area of immediate
lethality hazard.  Washdown and scrapedown of contaminated 
surfaces is very effective in dose reduction.  Proper monitoring 
and detection is important to preclude long term exposure in high 
activity areas.  Residual low activity may result in exposure in 
excess of the guidelines for long term (months or years) civilian 
residence in contaminated areas.

PREPARED BY: [   (b)(2)   ][   (b)(6)   ]  APPROVED BY:
 



 

 



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