UNSCOM Investigations at Khamisiyah

In April 1991, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687, setting specific terms for a formal cease-fire to end the conflict between Iraq, Kuwait and the countries cooperating with Kuwait [68]. In May 1991, in response to UN Security Council Resolution 687, the Iraqis declared to UNSCOM that "Khamisiyah (Nasiriyah)" was a chemical weapons storage site, although it was not included in their first declaration to the UN in April 1991. This was confusing information because it referred to two locations, a known site (Nasiriyah), and an as yet unknown site (Khamisiyah).

In October 1991, UNSCOM sent a team to inspect six of the sites which were not near Baghdad. The site map provided to the UNSCOM Team was labeled "An Nasiriyah Depot S.W. (Khamisiyah)," and it depicted the layout of what U.S. Intelligence knew as An Nasiriyah ASP. However, the UNSCOM Team was not taken to An Nasiriyah, but to a different site, which is now known to be Khamisiyah. They were shown artillery shells and rockets in two separate areas apart from the main ASP (see Figure 2). An open area, 3 kilometers west of the bunkers, contained 6,323 155mm artillery shells filled with mustard agent. These shells were undamaged and were stored in an orderly fashion (in several stacks/clusters) under tarpaulins, using the natural terrain features to hide them. The second area, located in a "pit" south of the main bunker complex, contained 297 122mm rockets in three to four "heaps," some of which were damaged but most were intact. Some rockets were neatly laid out, while others appeared to have been bulldozed into piles or heaps. Many rockets were leaking, and plastic inserts and other features characteristic of chemical munitions were observed, so UNSCOM personnel drilled into one of the intact rockets to take a sample. The sample was later analyzed and found to be a chemical warfare nerve agent (sarin/cyclosarin (GB/GF)).

The Iraqis told UNSCOM in 1991 that chemical rockets found in the "pit" had been salvaged from Bunker 73, which had been destroyed as part of the demolition operations by Coalition Forces. UNSCOM acknowledged that Bunker 73 appeared damaged, but did not thoroughly inspect the bunker. Chemical agent monitoring at the bunker site was negative. No other observations were documented concerning remains of munitions, such as whether there were observable plastic inserts or other paraphernalia characteristic of chemical munitions.

In November 1991, the U.S. Intelligence Community became aware of the results of the UNSCOM Khamisiyah Ammunition Storage Facility site visit [69]. The U.S. Intelligence Community did not believe Iraqi accounts to the UN that chemical weapons had been blown up at Khamisiyah by the coalition forces at the end of the war [70]. They believed the Iraqis were engaged in possible deception, consistent with the observations of UNSCOM in their inspections and analysis of Iraqi declarations [71].

Despite their doubts, intelligence analysts initiated a search for any U.S. units involved in blowing up munitions at Khamisiyah. A response to their request dated 12 November 1991 indicates that they had "received information from ARCENT [the Army Central Command] to the fact that 24th Mechanized Infantry Division was located in the vicinity of Tall al Lahm, but [were] unable to confirm if U.S. troops did in fact destroy buildings at this particular site." [72] ARCENT mistakenly identified the 24th Infantry Division as being in the area at the time, although they had not carried out the demolition at Khamisiyah. The ARCENT lead was followed, and a 20 November 1991 message notes that "Info on Tall al Lahm Ammo Depot was passed to ... G-2 Office, Ft. Stewart, GA," Headquarters of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division. Further, this message states "info on presence of troops there and their activities during Desert Storm were requested...." [73] The IAD has followed that lead; after more than five years, the person contacted at Fort Stewart has no specific recollection of being contacted or of any specific subsequent actions taken. Additional follow-up has provided no further leads at this point [74].

During a March 1992 visit, the UNSCOM Team consolidated and destroyed at least 500 122mm rockets. According to the UNSCOM press release [75].

on 30 March 1992, the munitions destroyed included full, partially full, and empty rockets. This number includes the 297 rockets mentioned previously, which were found in the "pit". In addition to the rockets destroyed in the March 1992 site visit, more than 200 [76].

rockets were unearthed by the Iraqis in the "pit" and shipped to Al Muthanna for destruction. More than 700 rockets or major rocket parts in all were found in the "pit" area. The actual number of rockets in the "pit" and Bunker 73 is unknown, and continues to be topic of questioning during interviews with 1-800 callers and other interviewees.

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