Background of the Kuwaiti Girls’ School

Figure 2. Map of the Al Ahmadi district.[1] Red arrow indicates location of the Kuwaiti Girls’ School.

In early March 1991, coalition forces in the Kuwaiti theater of operations explored the Al Badawiyah Girls Sciences School in the Al Badawiyah suburb of Kuwait City at coordinates 2904N4806E (UTM Grid 18832039).[2] (Figure 2) During our investigation we found that the Al Badawiyah Girls Sciences School has also been known as the Sabahiyah High School for Girls[3] , the Ansarieh Banat Kebeed School[4] , and the Al Nasser School for Secondary Curriculum. In 1991, the school was known as the Ansarieh Banat Kabeed School. The school falls within the Sabahiyah municipality and the Badawiyah district and thus, may also be referred to by locality.[5] (Figure 2) In 1997, however, the school was known as the Al Nasser School for Secondary Curriculum. (Figure 3) UK Parliamentary and US Senate Committee investigators, as well as the media, have routinely referred to the building as the Kuwaiti Girls’ School. For purposes of this report, the school will be referred to as the Kuwaiti Girls’ School.

Figure 3. Photograph of the front of the school circa October 1997.[6] The sign at the top of the building reads: Al Nasser School for Secondary Curriculum.

Iraqi Use of the Kuwaiti Girls’ School

During the Gulf War the Kuwaiti Girls’ School was used by the Iraqis as a SILKWORM missile test and maintenance facility. An initial intelligence report of March 29, 1991 from coalition forces who had been present at the Kuwaiti Girls’ School, stated six Chinese-made SILKWORM anti-ship missiles were found inside the building. (Figure 4) In addition to these six missiles, the retreating Iraqi forces abandoned much support equipment-such as the missile test carts, cabling and a Chinese-manufactured generator vehicle-which was discovered inside the school. Two abandoned Soviet missile transport trucks were located next to a truck-mounted crane 100 meters west of the school, and a Chinese generator was positioned 600 meters west of the school. The initial intelligence report noted that the auditorium appeared to have been used as a troop messing/berthing area. The condition of the area indicated that the Iraqi troops had departed hastily.[7]

Iraqi use of the Kuwaiti Girls’ School as a SILKWORM test and maintenance facility was treated as classified. According to written and oral statements, none of the individuals and organizations who would come to be involved with events at the Kuwaiti Girls’ School in August, 1991, had any knowledge of what purpose, if any, the Iraqis had used the school. To date, none of the coalition forces present at the Kuwaiti Girls’ School on March 29, 1991, have been located for interviews. Efforts to contact them continue.

Figure 4. Captured Iraqi SILKWORM anti-ship missile at the Kuwait Girls’ School.

The detailed report of March 29, 1991, made no reference to any missile fuel or oxidizer storage tank located in or around the school. However, photography from March 1, 1991, clearly shows that the tank was present at the time. (Figure 5) As a test and maintenance facility, the presence of a storage container for the highly volatile oxidizer used in these missiles would be expected. The SILKWORM anti-ship missile uses Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid (IRFNA) as its oxidizer.[8] According to the Chemical Propulsion Information Agency, IRFNA is a highly corrosive oxidizing agent, light-orange to orange-red in color, transparent, strongly fuming and unstable. It will react with many organic materials, resulting in spontaneous combustion.[9] (TAB D)

Figure 5. U2 reconnaissance photo of the Kuwaiti Girls’ School from March 1, 1991.[10]The obstructed view is due to oil well fire smoke over the area.

Prior to Operation Desert Storm, the United States’ Defense Intelligence Agency assessed that Iraq was "likely to have a CW [chemical warfare] warhead for its SILKWORMs."[11] Examination of captured Iraqi SILKWORM warheads indicated that they were only high-explosive in nature. (Figure 6) A US report on captured Iraqi military hardware dated September 12, 1991, stated that thirty SILKWORM warheads would be available for evaluation and other use upon their arrival in the continental United States in September/October 1991.[12] A subsequent report dated October 29, 1991, stated that the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Terra Group, was to receive nineteen warheads; nine were to go to the Naval Warfare Center, China Lake, California; and the remaining two would go to the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Center at Indian Head, Maryland.[13] According to the Head of Security for the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the paperwork for all nineteen warheads indicated they were all high-explosive.[14] A representative from the Naval Warfare Center, China Lake, California, indicated that all warheads received were destroyed as high-explosive warheads.[15] Likewise, a representative from the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Center at Indian Head, Maryland, stated that both SILKWORM warheads received were definitely high-explosive in nature. He indicated that he "had heard of no CW [chemical weapons] warheads for Iraqi SILKWORMs," noting that if they did exist, they would definitely have been evaluated.[16]

Figure 6. Photograph of six SILKWORM missiles captured at the Kuwaiti Girls School awaiting transport to the US.[17]Note the serial number on the first missile above, matches that of the missile at the Girls’ School in Figure 4.

Reconstruction of Post War Kuwait

Following the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the Government of Kuwait set about the reconstruction of the infrastructure damaged during the Iraqi occupation. The US Army Corps of Engineers established the Defense Reconstruction Assistance Office (DRAO) and the Kuwaiti Emergency Recovery Office (KERO) to direct the majority of these operations. Efforts to clear unexploded ordnance ran in tandem with efforts to carry out physical repair to essential infrastructure. The Government of Kuwait issued its own contracts to clear unexploded ordnance (called Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD) within Kuwait. It divided the country into six large sectors and spread the work among the coalition forces, specifically the UK, US, France, Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan.[18] A weekly meeting was established to assess clearance progress and allocate new tasks.

Each country involved approached the EOD task slightly differently. Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan used their own EOD trained soldiers. France and the US planned to use contractors. The UK used a British contractor called Royal Ordnance who in turn hired trained British soldiers from the UK MOD to clear its sector.[19] However, it should be noted that the sectors delineated for ordnance clearing did not correspond to those delineated for reconstruction efforts.

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