IV. SCUDS AND CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
The evidence clearly shows that Saddam Hussein eventually intended to field operational Scuds armed with chemical and biological warheads, and he committed substantial resources to that end. However, did Iraq successfully achieve that goal by the time of Operation Desert Storm?
A. Threat Estimates Before Operation Desert Storm
Information from before the Gulf War generated serious concern among Coalition forces about Iraqs possible use of Scuds armed with chemical or biological warheads. Pre-war intelligence judged that Iraq might have chemical warheads for Scuds. One source said that despite very unstable flight characteristics, Iraq successfully completed development of a Scud with a chemical warhead in 1990, and that Iraq had stockpiled 150 Scuds with chemical warheads. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) judged that these warheads would most likely contain persistent chemical warfare agents such as VX (nerve agent) or mustard (blister agent). However, another report quotes an Iraqi engineer who claimed to have worked on the Al Hussein and Al Abbas missile programs. This engineer stated that Iraq still had not succeeded in manufacturing chemical warheads for its ballistic missiles and that Saddam Husseins threat to launch Scuds with chemical warheads at Israel was "a mere poker game."
According to an intelligence source, the Al Hussein missile could carry either chemical warfare (CW) or biological warfare (BW) warheads. Iraq could mount a biological agent warhead on the Al Abbas version of the Scud. This source reported Iraq planned to use cholera for biological warfare against targets in the Gulf region (but weaponization of cholera could not be verified later).
Intelligence agencies may have put less emphasis on Scuds as a biological threat, but they considered that threat real. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) assessed:
We have no information to confirm that Iraq has developed or manufactured BW warheads for its ballistic missiles. However, Iraq has the ability to weaponize its BW agentsincluding anthrax sporesand we believe it is well within Iraqs technical capabilities to produce BW warheads for its Scud missiles . It probably would take only one BW warhead to neutralize any one given target. Our analysis indicates that the Al Husayn [alternate spelling], carrying about 100 kilograms (KG) of dried anthrax spores, would theoretically produce a maximum area of lethal contamination of 1,600 square kilometers [579 square miles]. That would be a dispersion area about 90 KM long and 15 KM wide at the widest point [56 by 9 miles]. Other of Iraqs BW agents would be equally potent: Botulinus toxin would produce a maximum lethal area of contamination of about 21 square kilometers [8 square miles] and anthrax spores in solution would produce an area of about 110 square kilometers [42 square miles]. Iraq only needs a few BW-tipped missiles in its stockpile to cause significant casualties.
Another CIA document stated:
If Saddam concluded his personal position was becoming hopeless, this could convince him to use biological weapons to shock the Coalition into a cease-fire. In such a situation, the use of anthrax against a coalition military installation or a major Saudi oil facility might seem an attractive option. Iraq is almost certain to use chemical weapons tactically to avoid serious battlefield defeats.
B. Information During the War
After Iraq began its Scud attacks, Coalition forces saw reports suggesting the possibility of imminent attacks by Iraq with chemically or biologically armed Scuds. The first Scud attack on Israel occurred on January 18, 1991, the day after the Coalition began offensive air operations. An 82nd Airborne Division log sheet noted at 5:32 AM on January 18th that "Israelis have informed the United States that at least some of the missiles that impacted were chemical rds [rounds]." We could not determine who initiated this report, and shortly after 6:00 AM a retraction was transmitted. Israeli officials confirmed that none of the Scuds that attacked Israel carried chemical or biological agent warheads.
As the Coalition air campaign proceeded, a VII Corps log included an entry at 8:00 PM on January 20th noting that "a source of unknown reliability" stated that Saddam had ordered a chemical/biological attack for the following day. The XVIII Airborne Corps advised the 82nd Airborne Division intelligence staff several hours later that a chemical (or biological) attack would most likely come by surface-to-surface missiles and estimated the likelihood of such an attack at 50 percent.
On January 27, 1991, another report stated that Saddam Hussein had ordered the beginning of chemical attacks. The CIA noted that Iraqs forces "would be virtually certain to use chemical weapons if they were pushed back by an Allied offensive." As the Coalition ground campaign began, the DIA assessed that "Baghdad may be tempted to launch non-conventional [i.e., chemical or biological warfare agent] attacks with whatever warheads are available."
However, the expected chemical or biological attacks did not materialize. Even before the Gulf War ended, media reporting indicated Iraq had used no such weapons aboard Scuds. As one newspaper article noted, "Speculation that Iraq also would fit chemical warheads atop longer-range Al-Hussein and Al-Abbas missiles have [sic] not been borne out by the 67 firings so far of these missiles on civilian and military targets in Israel and Saudi Arabia. This fact has caused some officials to conclude that Iraq still lacks the capability of placing chemical warheads on the longer-range Scuds."
Intelligence suggested one possible reason no chemical or biological warfare attacks had occurred. The CIA reported in January 1991 that, while Iraq had chemical warheads for Scud missiles, it had not yet mastered the fuse technology and trigger mechanism to detonate the warhead. The same report stated that Iraqs missile officials were considering having Scud missiles deliver chemical or biological weapons, counting on Patriot missiles to intercept the Scuds, thus dispersing the agent and contaminating an estimated 60 square kilometers (23 square miles). Such a concept suggested that Iraq knew that their Scud contact fusing could not do a good job, although an area would still be contaminated. As a United States government assessment indicated at the time, analysts did not expect a Patriot intercept to increase dissemination of agent, and it might greatly reduce such dissemination.
The Armed Forces Journal International magazine also reflected upon the technical challenges involved in arming Scuds with chemical warfare payloads:
Why have not Iraqi Scud chemical warheads appeared? Though there are reliable reports that the Iraqis have tested such warheads, technological challenges in the design of such warheads are more formidable than most reports have suggested . The main hurdle in chemical warhead design is the missiles high terminal speed, nearly one mile per second. For a chemical warhead to function properly, it must dispense the liquid agent into an aerosol cloud a fraction of a second before impact. This is accomplished using a proximity fuse in the nose of the warhead detonating a burster charge in its base. The fuse must withstand the substantial heat build-up, shock, and vibration of descent. The burster charge must be sufficient to breach the warhead casing without destroying the small load of toxic liquid. If either device fails, the warhead plunges into the ground and the chemical agent is largely destroyed or absorbed.
The United States Air Forces Tactical Air Command speculated in early March 1991 that
Iraq well may have refrained from employing chemical agents for political and tactical reasons including inadequate targeting and intelligence and adverse weather. In addition, the tempo and magnitude of the coalition campaign kept Baghdad off balance, and Saddam and his generals may not have wanted to risk the expected massive retaliation for a minimal tactical advantage.
C. Post-War Findings
A declassified DIA document reported that a thorough analysis of each Scud impact point in at least the King Khalid Military City (KKMC) area uncovered no evidence of chemical warfare agents or their decomposition products. We did not find any indication of verified detection of chemical warfare agents in any other Scud impact areas, including Israel where officials confirmed all Scud warheads recovered were conventional.
In accepting United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 of April 3, 1991, Iraq agreed to a cease-fire, intrusive inspections, and elimination of their weapons of mass destruction and related materiel including Scuds. To perform the inspections and monitor Iraqs compliance with the agreement, the United Nations created the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM).
After the Gulf War, publicly-released UNSCOM information, as well as the United States intelligence communitys independent information collection and analysis, provided insight regarding Iraq's ability to field Scuds fitted with chemical and biological warfare agent warheads. From such sources, we gained perspective on what the Coalition might have faced had Iraq possessed and used workable Scuds with such warheads. UNSCOM verified that Iraq produced 50 chemical and 25 biological Scud warheads that could have been filled for field-operations. Iraq also produced five warheads specifically designed for trials of chemical warfare agents. Of the 50 chemical warfare agent warheads, 16 were filled with the nerve agent sarin and 34 were filled with binary components (chemicals that mix and produce sarin nerve agent) or the persistent nerve agent VX. UNSCOM did not identify the biological agents.
In 1995, Iraq admitted to UNSCOM inspectors that it had produced the biological warfare agents anthrax, botulinum toxin, and aflatoxin. Inspectors found that Iraq had launched a crash program in December 1990 to field weapons with BW agents to include artillery shells and some Al Hussein Scuds. Iraq claimed they never used such weapons because the United States sent them a message implying that if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons, the United States would counterattack with nuclear weapons. According to Iraq, Israeli officials sent a similar message.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) assessed that Iraq did not use chemical or biological weapons against Coalition forces in the Gulf War. For example, Near East South Asia (NESA), a CIA office focused on the Middle East and other areas, thoroughly searched their files regarding potential use of chemical warfare (CW) of biological warfare (BW) agents by Iraq during the Gulf War. They summarized the results as follows: 1) They found no evidence that Iraqs leaders ordered chemical or biological warfare agent use during the Gulf War and no conclusive evidence that Iraqs forces employed those weapons; 2) Iraq had some Scud missile warheads loaded with CW and BW agents, and that Iraq planned to retaliate with CW and BW weapons for a nuclear attack on Baghdad; and 3) Husayn Kamil (Saddam Husseins brother-in-law and former chief of Iraqs nuclear-biological-chemical weapons development who defected to the west) stated in August 1995 that Iraqs officials believed that the United States would respond with tactical nuclear weapons if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against the Coalition. This summary suggests that Iraq did not employ CW or BW weapons against Coalition forces.
We have assembled in Tab C excerpts from operational reports regarding chemical agent testing and any symptoms (or lack thereof) for the Scud incidents in the Kuwait theater of operations discussed in Section V below. Reporting on this issue demonstrates that Iraq did not arm Scuds launched against Coalition forces with chemical warheads.
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