TAB F - Did Iraq Have Chemical Mines?

Before the Gulf War, the Defense Intelligence Agency assessed that Iraqi ground forces possibly had chemical mines.[309] This assessment was based on two events. In the first, a Canadian soldier assigned to a UN peacekeeping force after the Iran-Iraq War thought he identified a mine that Iraq had filled with chemical warfare agent. The mine was in an Iraqi conventional minefield along the Iran-Iraq border. It was recovered, however, and positively identified as a conventional mine.[310] The second circumstance that caused concern in the US intelligence community began with an explosives shortage in Italy in the mid-1980s that led to production of mine bodies, which were left unfilled. There were concerns in the US that these mine bodies would be filled with chemical warfare agents by nations such as Iraq, since Iraqi forces used many Italian-produced mines. So far, this has proved to be unfounded, as post-war inspection and destruction of chemical weapons by UNSCOM revealed no Iraqi chemical mines.[311, 312]

After the war, over 3.5 million mines were collected inside Kuwait and destroyed. None were found to be chemical.[313] See Table 2 for a list of the mines found in the Iraqi minefields. Additionally, many Iraqi documents were captured and translated. Except for theoretical discussions, none addressed chemical mines.[314] One captured Iraqi engineering publication discusses clearing an area of enemy chemical mines, using a US M21 chemical mine as an example.[315]

Iraqi engineers strictly implemented their doctrine for mine laying operations. A US expert on foreign mines stated that he felt very safe in an Iraqi minefield due to the discipline of Iraqi engineers in following doctrine. Minefield density was consistent and followed the pattern shown in Figure 20 (also see Figures 21 and 22).

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Figure 20.  Representative Iraqi minefield layout

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Figure 21.  A captured Iraqi minefield schematic.  The dark black dots represent anti-tank mines, which are surrounded by three anti-personnel mines.

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Figure 22.  Iraqi mines in Kuwait.  The large center mine is an anti-tank mine, surrounded by three anti-personnel mines.

Three anti-personnel mines are placed one meter from an anti-tank mine, facing the enemy. Each anti-tank mine is separated by four to five meters. The Iraqis consistently followed this doctrine during the Gulf War across the entire 400 kilometers of minefields. After traveling 300 kilometers of this front, the US expert, looking for signs of booby traps or chemical mines, found none. According to this expert, the Iraqis followed their doctrine explicitly, and any inclusion of chemical mines would be inconsistent with that doctrine. There would not be unique events of a few chemical mines interspersed among the 3.5 million conventional mines.[316]

Lastly, it was his expert opinion, and that of one of his colleagues, that chemical mines are "a dumb way to disperse chemicals."[317]

Table 2. Ordnance (landmine) employment by Iraqi forces[318]

A. Origin

B. Nomenclature/Type

C. Fuzing Type

Belgium PRB M409/(anti-personnel) Simple pressure
United Kingdom Bar Mine (anti-tank) L89 Single impulse
China Type 69 (plastic)/(anti-personnel)

Type 72 (plastic)/(anti-personnel)

Type 76 (plastic)/(anti-personnel)

PMN (anti-personnel)

Blast Resistant

Simple Pressure

Simple Pressure

Simple Pressure

Czechoslovakia PT-MI-BA-III/(anti-tank) Simple Pressure
France MI AC HPD F-2/(anti-tank) Magnetic
Italy Valmara VS 1.6/(anti-personnel)

Valmara VS 2.2 (anti-personnel)

Valmara VS 50/ (anti-personnel)

Valmara 59/ (anti-personnel)

Valmara 69 (anti-personnel)

P-40 (anti-personnel)

VAR/IG Illumination Mine

VS-T Illumination Mine

Blast Resistant

Blast Resistant

Blast Resistant                               

Simple Pressure/Trip Wire            

Simple Pressure/Trip Wire           

Trip Wire

Trip Wire/Pressure

Trip Wire/Pressure

Iraq P-25/(anti-personnel) Trip Wire
Jordan PRB-05/(anti-tank) Single Impulse
USSR TM 46 (anti-tank)

TM 57 (anti-tank)

TM 62M (anti-tank)

Simple Pressure

Blast Resistant

Blast Resistant


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