Based on UNSCOM reports and intelligence community analyses, we are confident Coalition bombing released chemical warfare agents into the atmosphere. We calculated the amount of agent released based largely on UNSCOM inspection reports. For the nerve-agent-filled DB2 bombs, we used the number that UNSCOM found damaged and those UNSCOM could not find. Similarly, for the mustard-filled 250-guage bombs, we counted all the weapons that UNSCOM determined had leaked. UNSCOM accounting for mustard-filled 500-guage bombs differed somewhat from Iraqs declaration, so for our modeling purposes, we used the higher number. Finally, UNSCOM found remnants of only 15 to 20 mustard-filled 155mm artillery rounds, so we used the higher figure for our calculations. Note that in all cases, our estimates for our modeling purposes used the largest possible calculation to assure that our modeling would yield the largest area potentially hazardous to US forces.
Our analysis indicates any of 17 Coalition bombing strikes on 15 bombing dates likely released nerve agent between January 19, 1991, and February 24, 1991. We also believe bombing definitely released mustard agent on February 10, 12, or 16, 1991. Although we know Coalition forces bombed Muhammadiyat on these dates, we have been unable to determine which of these attacks damaged or destroyed the chemical weapons. The limited bomb damage assessment data and, in the case of nerve agent, uncertainty as to the DB-2 bombs location during the bombing attacks, makes it impossible to specify the dates of agent release more precisely.
If the bombing released chemical warfare agent on multiple days, the amount released on any one day would be only a fraction of the total released. However, since we cannot determine the date(s) Coalition bombing actually damaged or destroyed the weapons, we modeled scenarios that would simulate the greatest potential hazard to US forces: Coalition bombing damaged or destroyed all the chemical weapons at the same time on the same day. Any date the Coalition attacked the warehouse area during the bombing campaign was a possible agent release date; any time attack aircraft flew over the target was a possible time of release. Consequently, we assumed the time of release of all the nerve agent could have been any of 17 bombings on 15 days. Bomb damage assessments and intelligence information allowed us to limit the days of possible mustard release to threeFebruary 10, 12, or 16, 1991. For both nerve-agent-filled and mustard-filled munitions, we modeled each attack as if it were the attack that released all the agent, rather than in smaller releases over several different dates, and analyzed each attacks potential for endangering US forces, thereby generating the largest potential hazard areas for analysis of each days possible release.
Analysis of the results of our modeling indicates that, despite the liberal assumptions of our modeling, the closest the nerve agent hazard area came to a company-size unit in western Saudi Arabia was 35 miles and nearest to the main concentration of US forces near Rafha, 80 miles. The closest the mustard release came to the same unit in western Saudi Arabia was 125 miles and to the main concentration of forces near Rafha, 150 miles. Therefore, we assess US forces outside Iraq definitely were not exposed to chemical warfare agents possibly released from the bombing of Muhammadiyat.
However, US Special Operations Command indicates a few Special Operation Forces personnel operated in Iraq during the Gulf War air campaign, possibly in areas that would have been hazardous if nerve agent had been released at that time. No Special Operation Forces were present on the days of possible mustard agent release. Working with Special Operations Command, we assess that for fewer than 76 Special Operations Forces soldiers, nerve agent exposure is indeterminate for two reasons. First, we cannot identify exactly when the possible release occurred. Second, we only know the general vicinity of these soldiers and not their precise location during the time of the hazard.
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