This investigation sought the answers to two important questions:
To assess the likelihood that US forces destroyed chemical weapons stored at Khamisiyah, we wanted to establish that US troops conducted demolition operations there and that chemical warfare agents were present during the demolitions.
US Army engineers and explosive ordnance disposal personnel conducted two large-scale demolitions at Khamisiyah: one on March 4, 1991, and a second on March 10, 1991. Only bunkers were destroyed on March 4, 1991. The Pit, warehouses, and most of the remaining bunkers were destroyed on March 10, 1991. Hundreds of personal interviews of commanders, operations officers, noncommissioned officers, enlisted personnel, and NBC specialists from the engineer and EOD units confirmed the demolition operations. The 37th Engineer Battalion videotape of March 4, 1991, bunker inventories and subsequent bunker explosions, narrated by an engineer unit commander, provides insight into the magnitude of the effort required to destroy the Khamisiyah ASP. Personal diaries added details to the daily events of US units involved in destroying the bunkers and warehouses. Unit logs and records and declassified intelligence documents further identified US participants in the Khamisiyah demolition operations.
During this investigation, we discovered significant evidence to support the presence of chemical weapons at Khamisiyah. Although US forces did not identify chemical weapons during their inventory or demolition activities, subsequent UNSCOM inspections from October 1991 through the summer of 1998 documented chemical weapons in Bunker 73, the Pit, and at an open storage location three kilometers west of the main storage area. At the open storage location, UNSCOM inspectors tested a leaking 155mm artillery shell with a CAM and determined it contained the blister agent mustard. They also tested the 122mm rockets in the Pit and found they contained a mixture of the nerve agents sarin and cyclosarin. In May 1996, UNSCOM inspectors determined that some damaged rockets in the remains of Bunker 73 were chemical weapons, based on the rockets physical characteristics (high-density polyethylene inserts, burster tubes, and fill plugs). UNSCOM inspectors found additional nerve agent-filled rockets during their 1998 excavation of Bunker 73 and the Pit.
Intelligence Community reports and photographs and UNSCOM information were crucial in assessing whether US forces destroyed chemical weapons at Khamisiyah. Bunker 73s debris contained whole and fragmentary 122mm rockets bearing characteristics of chemical weapons. The rockets were thoroughly mixed in the debris and it is unlikely Iraq placed them there after the demolition to discredit the US or deceive UNSCOM inspectors. UNSCOM unearthed chemical rockets in Bunker 73s location, leaving no doubt that at least some of the munitions in the bunker were chemical weapons when US Army engineers destroyed it. We are less certain about the existence of chemical weapons in the Pit. Iraq claimed that they moved chemical rockets from Al Muthanna to Bunker 73 and then moved them to the Pit when some began to leak. Iraqs officials took UNSCOM inspectors to the Pit in October 1991 and showed them several piles of rockets, which UNSCOM tested and found to contain chemical warfare agents. In February 1992, UNSCOM found additional chemical warfare weapons buried in the Pits sand walls. The inspectors also found chemical weapons in a 1998 excavation of the Pit. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for Iraq to have buried those chemical weapons in the Pit, either to embarrass the US or deceive the UNSCOM inspectors.