Iraq and weapons of mass destruction

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The government of Iraq used, possessed and intended to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) during the reign of Saddam Hussein. His purported failure to comply with inspections stipulated under UN Resolution and the threat of operational, banned WMD in the hands of Saddam Hussein was given as the chief of several reasons for the decision of the United States to invade Iraq and topple his government in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The same justification was used by the government of the United Kingdom. However, on October 6, 2004, the head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, announced to the United States Senate Armed Services Committee that the group found no evidence that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had produced any weapons of mass destruction since 1991, when UN sanctions were imposed. The report found that "The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but [there is] the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq, although not of a militarily significant capability." It also concluded that it was possible Hussein would pursue WMD proliferation in the future : "There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial, body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted..." [1] (

Iraq acceded to the Geneva Protocol on September 8, 1931, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on October 29, 1969, signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, but did not ratify until June 11, 1991. Iraq has not signed to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire terms Iraq was forbidden from developing, possessing or using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Other items proscribed by the treaty included missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres.

The UN established a commission, UNSCOM, to verify Iraq's adherence to the treaty. At the time adherence was established economic sanctions against Iraq were to be lifted. Iraq's adherence to the treaty was, however, never established to the satisfaction of the United Nations Security Council and the sanctions were not lifted until after the 2003 war.

UNSCOM encountered various difficulties and a lack of cooperation by the Iraqi government. In 1998, UNSCOM was withdrawn at the request of the United States before Operation Desert Fox. Despite this, UNSCOM's own estimate was that 90-95% of Iraqi WMD's had been successfully destroyed before its 1998 withdrawal. After that Iraq remained without any outside weapons inspectors for five years. During this time speculations arose that Iraq had actively resumed its WMD programmes. In particular, various figures in the George W. Bush administration went so far as to express concern about nuclear weapons:

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." —Condoleezza Rice, US National Security Advisor, CNN Late Edition, 9/8/2002
"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." —Dick Cheney, Vice President, Meet The Press, 3/16/2003

Intelligence shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq was heavily used as support arguments in favor of military intervention with the October 2002 C.I.A. report on Iraqi WMD's considered to be the most reliable one available at that time.[2] (

At the beginning of 2003, the United States and the United Kingdom administrations both claimed that there was absolutely no doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was developing more. The intelligence services of some other countries also assessed that Iraq still had covert WMD programs.

Some people claim that Iraq broke the terms of the ceasefire between 1991 and 1998. In addition to being forbidden to possess or develop WMD, Iraq was also bound to cooperate with the inspectors from the UN sent to verify destruction of the WMD programs. These people claim that the UNSCOM commission did not have the full cooperation of the Iraqi government. There is dispute about whether Iraq still had WMD programs after 1998 and whether its cooperation with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was complete. UN Chief Weapons Inspector said in January 2003 that Iraq has, "...not genuinely accepted U.N. resolutions demanding that it disarm." On 7 March, in an address to the Security Council, Hans Blix, the head of UNMOVIC, appeared to take a more positive view describing current Iraqi level of cooperation as "active or even proactive". Attributing increased Iraqi initiative to "outside pressure" he stated his estimate that it would take several months for all outstanding WMD issues to be resolved. United States officials treated Blix's report dismissively.

Even in lieu of actual WMD programs, legal justification for the campaign was claimed due to the alleged lack of cooperation with UN inspectors by Iraq. The stated intention of the U.S. plan to invade Iraq was to eliminate Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbors or its own people with weapons of mass destruction. Strangely, Bush repeated several times after the war that the war was launched because Saddam Hussein would not allow the inspectors into the country.

Documented uses of WMD

Use of chemical weapons by the British

The first documented use of WMD's in Iraq was in the early 1920s. Winston Churchill, then member of the British government, ordered chemical bombardment of "recalcitrant" Shia villages. This took place before the 1925 Geneva Protocol, banning chemical and biological weapons.

Use of chemical weapons during the war with Iran

Nathaniel Hurd of Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) (Hurd, 2001) reported the following:

  • In 1980 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency filed a report asserting that Iraq had been actively acquiring chemical weapons capacities for several years. [Subsequent events proved that this estimate was very likely correct.]
  • In 1982 Iraqi forces reportedly started deploying chemical weapons against Iranian troops. In 1983 the use was reportedly greatly increased.
  • In 1982 the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the U.S. State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism. This opened the gate to U.S. trade and support of Iraq during the war with Iran. In 1983 the Reagan administration secretly administered the channeling of U.S. aid to Iraq, after special envoy Donald Rumsfeld helped formally reestablish relations cut off in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The Washington Post reported that in 1984 the CIA secretly started feeding intelligence to the Iraqi army. This included assistance in targeting chemical weapons strikes. The same year it was confirmed beyond doubt by European doctors and U.N. expert missions that Iraq was employing chemical weapons against the Iranians.

Despite this the Reagan administration re-established full diplomatic ties with Iraq on 26 November the same year and continued supplying Iraq with intelligence and equipment.

With more than 100,000 Iranian soldiers as victims of Saddam Hussein's Chemical and Biological weapons during the eight-year war with Iraq, Iran today is the world's top afflicted country by Weapons of Mass Destruction, only after Japan. (Note: Perhaps as many as 4.8 million people in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange leading to widespread deaths and ill health. However, the US used the substance as a defoliant not as a chemical weapon.)

The official estimate does not include the civilian population contaminated in bordering towns or the children and relatives of veterans, many of whom have developed blood, lung and skin complications, according to the Organization for Veterans.

Nerve gas agents killed about 20,000 Iranian soldiers immediately, according to official reports. Of the 90,000 survivors, some 5,000 seek medical treatment regularly and about 1,000 are still hospitalized with severe, chronic conditions. Many others were hit by Mustard gas.

Despite the removal of Saddam and his regime by American forces, there is deep resentment and anger in Iran that it was Western companies (West Germany, France, US) that helped Iraq develop its chemical weapons arsenal in the first place and that the world did nothing to punish Iraq for its use of chemical weapons throughout the war.

Further reading on surviving veterans of these weapons:

Halabja poison gas attack

On 23 March, 1988 western media sources reported from Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan, that several days before Iraq had launched a large scale chemical assault on the town. Later estimates were that 4000 people had been killed.

The Halabja poison gas attack caused an international outcry against the Iraqis. Later that year the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the "Prevention of Genocide Act", cutting off all U.S. assistance to Iraq and stopping U.S. imports of Iraqi oil. The Reagan administration opposed the bill, calling it premature, and eventually prevented it from taking effect.

The Iraqis blamed the Halabja attack on Iranian forces. [3] ( This was still the position of Saddam Hussein in his December 2003 captivity. ("Bearing", 2003) Some evidence appears to support this theory. A report at the time by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency asserted that evidence of blood agent use was found in bodies of dead Kurds. At the time of the attack Iran was reportedly using the blood agent cyanide whereas Iraq was employing mustard gas. (Pelletiere, 2003) Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights disagree with this, since the symptoms they found all corresponded to both mustard and sarin gas, and there was little evidence to suggest cyanide poisoning.

Also See The Chemical Attack on Halabja.

End of the war with Iran

While numerous Security Council resolutions condemned the use of chemical weapons in the Iraq-Iran war the U.S. veto prevented any explicit condemnation of the Iraqis for years. As the war came to an end so did the last documented uses of WMD's in Iraq.

See also Iran-Iraq war.

The 1991 Gulf War

Invasion of Kuwait

The invasion was widely condemned and overnight the policy of the United States against the government of Saddam Hussein seemed to change. As fresh horror stories from the occupation of Kuwait, some of which later proved false, came into the spotlight, older atrocities, such as the gassing of Halabja, were also given attention. As the vilification of Saddam Hussein proceeded, his arsenal of non-conventional weapons also began gaining attention.

Invasion of Iraq by the Coalition

An international coalition of nations, led by the United States, invaded Kuwait and drove the Iraqi army back to the outskirts of southern Iraqi cities. Many expected the Iraqis to use non-conventional weapons but none were deployed.

U.N. ceasefire resolutions

In the ceasefire terms Iraq was forbidden from developing, possessing or using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Other items proscribed by the treaty included missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres. The relevant Security Council resolutions are number 686 and 687:

686 (2 March 1991): Iraq-Kuwait Affirms the "independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq" and sets out terms for a cease-fire. The use of force to remain valid to uphold these conditions.

687 (3 April 1991): Iraq-Kuwait Declares effective a formal cease-fire (upon Iraqi acceptance), establishes the UN Special Commission on weapons (UNSCOM), extends sanctions and, in paragraphs 21 and 22, providevelop its chemical weapons arsenal in the first place and that the world did nothing to punish Iraq for its use of chemical weapons throughout the war.

Also See The Chemical Attack on Halabja.

Further reading on surviving veterans of these weapons:

UNSCOM inspections 1991-1998

The United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) was headed by Rolf Ekus and later Richard Butler. Between 1991 and 1995, UN inspectors uncovered a massive program to develop biological and nuclear weapons and a large amount of equipment was confiscated and destroyed. The al-Hakam germ warfare center, headed by the British-educated Iraqi biologist Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha, was blown up by UNSCOM in 1996. According to a 1999 report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, the normally mild-mannered Taha exploded into violent rages whenever UNSCOM questioned her about al-Hakam, shouting, screaming and, on one occasion, smashing a chair, while insisting that al-Hakam was a chicken-feed plant. [4] (

"There were a few things that were peculiar about this animal-feed production plant," Charles Duelfer, UNSCOM's deputy executive chairman, later told reporters, "beginning with the extensive air defenses surrounding it."

In 1995, UNSCOM's principle weapons inspector, Dr. Rod Barton from Australia, showed Taha documents obtained by UNSCOM that showed the Iraqi government had just purchased 10 tons of growth medium from a British company called Oxoid. Growth medium is a mixture of sugars, proteins and minerals that provides nutrients for microorganisms to growth. It can be used in hospitals and microbiology/molecular biology research laboratories, in hospitals swabs from patients are placed in dishes containing growth medium for diagnostic purposes. Iraq's hospital consumption of growth medium was just 200 kg a year; yet in 1988, Iraq imported 39 tons of it.

Shown this evidence by UNSCOM, Taha admitted to the inspectors that she had grown 19,000 litres of botulism toxin; [5] ( 8,000 litres of anthrax; 2,000 litres of aflatoxins, which can cause liver failure; Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium that can cause gas gangrene; and ricin, a castor-bean derivative which can kill by impeding circulation. She also admitted conducting research into cholera, salmonella, foot and mouth disease, and camel pox, a disease that uses the same growth techniqes as smallpox, but which is safer for researchers to work with. It was because of the discovery of Taha's work with camel pox that the U.S. and British intelligence services feared Saddam Hussein may have been planning to weaponize the smallpox virus. Iraq had a smallpox outbreak in the 70s and UNSCOM scientists believed the government would have retained contaminated material.

Some experts also believe that, as of 1991, Iraq was within one to three years of developing nuclear weapons. However, others say that Iraq's nuclear weapons program suffered a serious setback in 1981 when the reactor used to generate source material for its bomb was bombed by Israel. [6] ( The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists concurs with this view: there were far too many technological challenges unsolved, they say. [7] (

In 1998, after more than seven years of inspections, Iraq charged that the commission was a cover for US espionage and refused UNSCOM access to certain sites. Although Ekus has said that he resisted attempts at such espionage, many allegations have since been made against Butler, see for example [8] ( or [9] ( Butler has vehemently denied the charges. Amidst controversy, Butler withdrew the UNSCOM team for safety reasons ahead of US bombing. Many US officials and former inspectors have confirmed the charges, most prominently Scott Ritter.

Former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter stated that, as of 1998, 90–95% of Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities, and long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons, had been verified as destroyed. Technical 100% verification was not possible, claims Ritter, not because Iraq still had any hidden weapons, but because Iraq had preemptively destroyed some stockpiles and claimed they had never existed.

That year, Ritter sharply criticized the Clinton administration and the U.N. Security Council for not being vigorous enough about insisting that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction be destroyed. Ritter also accused U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan of assisting Iraqi efforts at impeding UNSCOM's work. "Iraq is not disarming," Ritter said on August 27, 1998, and in a second statement, "Iraq retains the capability to launch a chemical strike."

During the 2002–2003 build-up to war Ritter criticized the Bush administration and maintained that it had provided no credible evidence that Iraq had reconstituted a significant WMD capability. In an interview with Time in September 2002 (Calabresi, 2002) he stated:

"We have tremendous capabilities to detect any effort by Iraq to obtain prohibited capability. The fact that no one has shown that he has acquired that capability doesn't necessarily translate into incompetence on the part of the intelligence community. It may mean that he hasn't done anything."

In the same interview Ritter had this to say on accusations of UNSCOM being used for illegitimate spying on Iraq:

"It's ironic that everyone has focused on the struggle of the inspectors vs. Iraq. Not too many people speak of the struggle between the weapons inspectors and the U.S. to beat back the forces of U.S. intelligence which were seeking to infiltrate the weapons inspectors program and use the unique access the inspectors enjoyed in Iraq for purposes other than disarmament. Iraq has a clear case that under this past inspection regime unfortunately it was misused for purposes other than set out by the Security Council resolution."

Ritter was widely denounced in the United States for his supposed "defection" and "lack of patriotism".

Also in the interview, Ritter countered that he had given 12 years of service to his country as a Marine and that he was willing to put his record of service up against anyone.

Period without inspections

In 1998 UN weapons inspectors left Iraq, stating that the Iraqi authorities were not cooperating [10] ( the resulting controversy in 2002 was whether or not Iraq used their absence to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of UN resolutions. Another controversial point came from estimating the time it would take Iraq to produce nuclear weapons from raw materials.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies in Britain published (Chipman, 2002) in September 2002 a review of Iraq's current military capability, and concluded that Iraq could assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained. However, it concluded that without such foreign sources, it would take years at a bare minimum. In addition to the numbers being viewed as overly optimistic by many critics (such as the Federation of American Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists), the claim that Iraq could built a bomb if only it had enriched nuclear material has been compared to the concept of being able to build a bomb if only one had a few sticks of dynamite.

Iraq insisted it no longer had any weapons of mass destruction.

The United States claimed the opposite and it may have had inside knowledge. One of the suppliers of biological weapons components to Iraq was the United States itself, in particular during the Iran/Iraq war. (From the Associated Press [11] (,0,4635016.story?coll=bal%2Dhome%2Dheadlines).) It was reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a biological sample company, the American Type Culture Collection, sent strains of anthrax, the bacteria that make botulinum toxin, the germs that cause gas gangrene, and samples of other deadly pathogens, including the West Nile virus, directly to several Iraqi sites.

UNMOVIC search 2003

In late 2002 Saddam Hussein, in a letter to Hans Blix, invited UN weapons inspectors back into the country. Subsequently the Security Council issued resolution 1441 authorizing new inspections in Iraq.

The carefully-worded U.N. resolution put the burden on Iraq, not U.N. inspectors, to prove that they no longer had weapons of mass destruction. The US claimed that Iraq's weapons report which was filed with the U.N. leaves weapons and materials unaccounted for; the Iraqis claimed that it was destroyed, something that had been confirmed years earlier by Iraq's highest profile defector, Hussein Kamel. According to reports from the previous U.N. inspection agency, UNSCOM, Iraq produced 600 metric tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, VX and sarin, and nearly 25,000 rockets and 15,000 artillery shells, with chemical agents, that are still unaccounted for. In fact, in 1995, Iraq told the United Nations that it had produced at least 30,000 liters of biological agents, including anthrax and other toxins it could put on missiles, but that all of it had been destroyed.

In January 2003, United Nations weapons inspectors reported that they had found no indication that Iraq had a currently active program to make nuclear weapons, and that there was no credible evidence that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons.

Some former UNSCOM inspectors disagree about whether the United States could know for certain whether or not Iraq had renewed production of weapons of mass destruction. Robert Gallucci said, "If Iraq had [uranium or plutonium], a fair assessment would be they could fabricate a nuclear weapon, and there's no reason for us to assume we'd find out if they had." Similarly, former inspector Jonathan Tucker said, "Nobody really knows what Iraq has. You really can't tell from a satellite image what's going on inside a factory."

However, Hans Blix said in late January 2003 that Iraq had "not genuinely accepted U.N. resolutions demanding that it disarm." [12] ( He claimed there were some materials which had not been accounted for. Since sites had been found which evidenced the destruction of chemical weaponry, UNSCOM was actively working with Iraq on methods to ascertain for certain whether the amounts destroyed matched up with the amounts that Iraq had produced.

In the last quarterly report submitted by UNMOVIC before the invasion of Iraq (Blix, February 2003) the following statements are found:

"All inspections were performed without notice, and access was in virtually all cases provided promptly. In no case have the inspectors seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew in advance of their impending arrival."

"More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have collected at different sites. ... The results to date have been consistent with Iraq's declarations."

"UNMOVIC has identified and started the destruction of approximately 50 litres of mustard declared by Iraq... This process will continue. A laboratory quantity of (1 litre) of thiodiglycol, a mustard precursor, ... has also been destroyed."

"[I]t was concluded that all variants of the Al Samoud 2 missile were inherently capable of ranges more than 150 kilometres and were therefore proscribed weapons systems."

"UNMOVIC has reported that, in general, Iraq has been helpful on "process", meaning, first of all, that Iraq has from the outset satisfied the demand for prompt access to any site, whether or not it had been previously declared or inspected. ... While such cooperation should be a matter of course, it must be recalled that UNSCOM frequently met with a different Iraqi attitude."

"During the period of time covered by the present report, Iraq could have made greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible evidence showing the absence of such items."

In the next quarterly report (Blix, May 2003), after the war, the total amount of proscribed items destroyed by UNMOVIC in Iraq can be gathered. Those include:

  • 50 deployed Al Samoud 2 missiles
  • Various equipment, including vehicles, engines and warheads, related to the AS2 missiles
  • 2 large propellant casting chambers
  • 14 155 mm shells filled with mustard gas, the mustard gas totalling approximately 49 litres and still at high purity
  • Approximately 500 ml of thiodiglycol
  • Some 122 mm chemical warheads
  • Some chemical equipment
  • 224.6 kg of expired growth media

Scott Ritter, a former marine officer who spent seven years hunting and destroying Saddam's arsenal, stated WMDs Saddam had in his possession all those years ago has long since turned to harmless substances. Sarin and tabun have a shelf life of five years, VX lasts a bit longer (but not much longer), and finally botulinum toxin and liquid anthrax last about three years. All the all the chemical and biological weapons within Saddam's possessions have since turned into harmless, useless goo. [13] (,2763,794771,00.html)

The 2003 war


Prior to the invasion, the United States said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and that it must either give them all up or undergo a regime change. However, immediately prior to the invasion, the United States made a further demand that Saddam Hussein step down from power and vacate Iraq. Still later, the United States announced that even if Saddam Hussein abdicated and his government was changed, it would send in forces to verify disarmament and oversee the transition to a new government. Iraq variously claimed that it never had any WMD, or that it had gotten rid of them all (and asserted that it was thus in compliance with United States and United Nation demands).

Some said before the invasion that if Iraq were to prove credibly that it no longer had such capability, by allowing unfettered access to inspectors and permitting the destruction of WMD stocks and production facilities as they were found, the primary claimed justification for the proposed US invasion would vanish.

At the United Nations Security Council French and Russian Foreign Ministers Dominique de Villepin and Igor Ivanov garnered an unusual applause inside the chamber with their speeches against the war and for a continuation of the weapons inspections.

For more details: Iraq disarmament crisis, The UN Security Council and the Iraq war

The fall of Iraq

As of April 16, 2003, Iraq's Baath government had fallen to the invasion, all major cities have been captured, and no weapons of mass destruction had been reported found. As of April 24, 2003, the United States had started backing off[14] ( on the search for weapons of mass destruction. UNMOVIC chief inspector Hans Blix has called for UN inspections to resume.[15] (

Aftermath of the 2003 war

Wolfowitz makes a controversial statement

On May 30, 2003, Paul Wolfowitz stated in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine that the issue of weapons of mass destruction was the point of greatest agreement among Bush's team among the reasons to remove Saddam Hussein from power. In Vanity Fair, he said, "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason..." The remainder of the quote, which was not included in the article, is as follows, according to a Pentagon transcript: "...but, there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two." [16] ( The same day, General James Conway, senior Marine commander in Iraq, expressed similar thoughts in a satellite interview with reporters at the Pentagon.

The New York Times, Ahmad Chalabi and WMD

In the build up to the 2003 war the New York Times published a number of stories claiming to prove that Iraq possessed WMD. One story in particular, written by Judith Miller helped persuade the American public that Iraq had WMD: in September 2002 she wrote about an intercepted shipment of aluminium tubes which the NYT said were to be used to develop nuclear material. It is now clear that they could not be used for that purpose.

The story was followed up with television appearances by Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice all pointing to the story as part of the basis for taking military action against Iraq..

Miller's sources were introduced to her by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile favourable to a US invasion of Iraq. Miller is also listed as a speaker for The Middle East Forum, an organization which openly declared support for an invasion.

In May 2004 the New York Times published an editorial which stated that its journalism in the build up to war had sometimes been lax. It appears that the Iraqi exiles used for the stories about WMD were either ignorant as to the real status of Iraq's WMD or lied to journalists to achieve their own ends.

Looting of nuclear facilities

Various nuclear facilities, including the Baghdad Nuclear Research Facility and Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, were found looted in the month following the invasion. (Gellman, 3 May 2003) On June 20, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that tons of uranium, as well as other radioactive materials such as thorium, had been recovered, and that the vast majority had remained on site. There were several reports of radiation sickness in the area. By June 7, 2003, many American and British media sources [17] ( [18] ( began questioning the credibility of the Bush administration, and John Dean even brought up the possibility of impeachment [19] ( for "lying to Congress and the American people", although this idea has largely fallen by the wayside since some members of Congress had access to much of the same information as the White House. It has been suggested that the documents and suspected weapons sites were looted and burned in Iraq by looters in the final days of the war. [20] (

Nuclear scientist buried components

After he was captured by U.S. forces in Baghdad in 2003, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, who ran Saddam's nuclear centrifuge program until 1997, handed over blueprints for a nuclear centrifuge along with some actual centrifuge components, stored at his home — buried in the front yard — awaiting orders from Baghdad to proceed. He said, "I had to maintain the program to the bitter end." In his book, "The Bomb in My Garden," the Iraqi physicist explains that his nuclear stash was the key that could have unlocked and restarted Saddam's bombmaking program.

Iraq Survey Group

on 30 May 2003, The U.S. Department of Defense briefed the media that it was ready to formally begin the work of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), a fact finding mission from the coalition of the Iraq occupation into the WMD programs developed by Iraq, taking over from the British-American 75th Exploitation Task Force.

U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence Review

On 4 June 2003, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts announced that the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence that he chaired would "as a part of its ongoing oversight of the intelligence community...conduct a Review of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction."

On 9 July 2004, the Committee released the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq.

Blair maintains that Iraq had WMD's

On July 17, 2003, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an address to the US congress, that history would forgive the United States and United Kingdom, even if they were wrong about weapons of mass destruction. He still maintained that "with every fiber of instinct and conviction" Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction.

Hans Blix weighs in

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in September Hans Blix expressed his belief that the former Iraqi government had destroyed all or almost all of its banned weapons after the First Gulf War. Quotes:

"I'm certainly coming more and more to the conclusion that Iraq has, as they maintained, destroyed all, almost, of what they had in the summer of 1991."

"The more time that has passed, the more I think it's unlikely that anything will be found." (Associated Press, 2003)

The ISG Interim Report

On October 3, 2003, the world digests David Kay's Iraq Survey Group report that finds no stockpiles of WMD in Iraq, although it states the government intended to develop more weapons with additional capabilities. Such programs appear to have been largely dormant. Weapons inspectors in Iraq do find some "biological laboratories" of unclear purpose and a strain of botulinum bacteria which had been declared. The US-sponsored search for WMD had at this point cost $300 million and was projected to cost around $600 million more.

In David Kay's statement on the interim report of the ISG (Kay, 2003) the following paragraph is found:

"We have not yet found stocks of weapons, but we are not yet at the point where we can say definitively either that such weapon stocks do not exist or that they existed before the war and our only task is to find where they have gone. We are actively engaged in searching for such weapons based on information being supplied to us by Iraqis."

Another notable statement is the following:

"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."

The phrase of 'WMD-related program activities' was later used in George Bush's state of the union speech. Bush's critics, often not realizing the origin of the statement, derided Bush for unclear wording and trying to "lower the bar" on confirming his pre-war WMD-claims.

Demetrius Perricos, then head of UNMOVIC, stated that the Kay report contained little information not already known by UNMOVIC. (Pincus, 2003) Many organizations, such as the biosecurity journal, have claimed that Kay's report is a "worst case analysis" [21] (

On 29 October U.S. intelligence spokesmen claimed that Iraqi WMDs and programmes had been comprehensively hidden before or immediately after the fall of Bagdhad, with some elements of the programmes being shipped out of the country.

Saddam captured: Insists "no WMD's"

On 14 December Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces. Time Online Edition reports that in his first interrogation he was asked whether Iraq had any WMD's. According to an official, his reply was: "'No, of course not, the U.S. dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us.' The interrogator continued along this line, said the official, asking: 'if you had no weapons of mass destruction then why not let the U.N. inspectors into your facilities?' Saddams reply: 'We didnt want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy.' (Bennett, 2003)

Butler Inquiry

On 3 February 2004, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced an independent inquiry, to be chaired by Lord Butler, to examine the reliability of British intelligence relating to alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. ("Iraq", 2004)

The Butler Review was published 14 July 2004.

Iraq Intelligence Commission

On 6 February 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush named an Iraq Intelligence Commission, chaired by Charles Robb and Laurence Silberman, to investigate United States intelligence, specifically regarding the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

2004 interviews with Iraqi WMD searchers

On 8 February 2004, Dr Hans Blix, in an interview on BBC TV, accused the US and British governments of dramatising the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in order to strengthen the case for the 2003 war against the government of Saddam Hussein. Quote:

"It was to do with information management. The intention was to dramatise it." [22] (

In an interview with BBC in June 2004 David Kay, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, made the following comment:

"Anyone out there holding — as I gather Prime Minister Blair has recently said — the prospect that, in fact, the Iraq Survey Group is going to unmask actual weapons of mass destruction, [is] really delusional."

Reports of chemical weapons finds since 2003

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, several reported finds of chemical weapons were announced. During the invasion itself, there were half a dozen incidents in which the US military announced that it had found chemical weapons. All of these claims were based on field reports, and were later retracted. After the war, many cases — most notably on April 7, 2003 when several large drums tested positive — continued to be reported in the same way.

Missing image
Photographed 10 January 2004. An Icelandic or Danish EOD wearing what is known as ABC Svr, a double protected ABC suit (Normal camouflage ABC-suit with another layer on top of that) during examining mortar rounds, suspected to contain illegal chemical.

Another such post-war case occurred on January 9, 2004, when Icelandic munitions experts and Danish military engineers discovered 36 120-mm mortar rounds containing liquid buried in Southern Iraq. While initial tests suggested that the rounds contained a blister agent, a chemical weapon banned by the Geneva Convention, [23] ( subsequent analysis by American and Danish experts showed that no chemical agent was present. [24] ( It appears that the rounds have been buried, and most probably forgotten, since the Iran-Iraq war. Some of the munitions were in an advanced state of decay and most of the weaponry would likely have been unusable.

The reason for the high false positive rates is that field tests using the ICAM (Improved Chemical Agent Monitor) are very inaccurate, and even the more time consuming field tests have shown themselves to be poor at determining whether something is a chemical weapon. According to Donald Rumsfeld, ""Almost all first reports we get turn out to be wrong," he said. "We don't do first reports and we don't speculate." [25] (,2933,83449,00.html). Many chemicals used in explosives, such as phosphorus, show up as blister agents. Other chemicals, such as pesticides (especially organophosphates such as malathion), routinely show up as nerve agents. Chemically, they are quite similar — the main difference is that some organophosphates kill only insects, and are consequently used as insecticides.

On May 2 2004 a shell containing mustard gas, was found in the middle of street west of Baghdad. The Iraq Survey Group investigation reported that it had been "stored improperly", and thus the gas was "ineffective" as a useful chemical agent. Officials from the Defense Department commented that they were not certain if use was to be made of the device as a bomb.[26] (,2933,120268,00.html)

On May 15 2004 a 155-mm artillery shell was used as an improvised bomb. The shell exploded and two U.S. soldiers were treated for minor exposure to a nerve agent (nausea and dialated pupils).[27] (,0,3344775.story?coll=ny-worldnews-headlines) [28] ( On May 18 it was reported by U.S. Department of Defense intelligence officials that tests showed the two-chambered shell contained the chemical agent sarin, the shell being "likely" to have contained three to four liters of the substance (in the form of its two unmixed precursor chemicals prior to the aforementioned explosion that had not effectively mixed them). [29] (,2933,120268,00.html).

The US abandoned its search for WMDs in Iraq on 2005January 12.

See also

External link

  • LookSmart - Iraq WMD Controversy ( directory category



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