Saddam’s Personal Involvement in WMD Planning
Regime Strategic Intent - Annex D
The Iraq Survey Group recovered this recording of Saddam and senior officials discussing the use of WMD. This discussion was part of a more general meeting which would appear from the content to have taken place during the second week of January, 1991. This is of particular interest as it provides a compelling demonstration of Saddam’s personal interest and involvement in WMD planning and preparation.
Saddam: I was talking to ‘Abd and I told him there is no need to make a big fuss about these suits because we are going to use them in this special occasion, even if it is a Chinese design the collar, the neck line should be lower than this.
Speaker 2: The suit, Sir, will have a neck line like the Dishdasha (Traditional dress of Arabia), so we can use normal white shirt with it.
Saddam: Why did they bring it to us like this then?
Speaker 2: No, I saw the state minister wearing the suit.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, formally, we are wearing it, but you seem to be cold sir (everyone was laughing).
Saddam: I think the people who designed that suit will not make that mistake: First, because you wear it right on the body, so it will get dirty soon; secondly, out of elegance, the hand shouldn’t appear from the suit like this.
Speaker 2: Sir, the design of the suit is with a white shirt and a collar (neck line) like dishdasha.
Saddam: Then my design is right.
Husayn Kamil: Absolutely right, sir.
Saddam: Then work on it and make the corrections to the sizes.
Speaker 2: Sir, we will amend it to be exactly with the neck line.
Saddam: Even if it appears a little bit. Now when some one wears a suit, of course the shirt line will appear a little bit, but here I prefer not to have it obvious.
Speaker 2: Sir, you can see that nobody is wearing it.
Saddam: It’s forgotten, but now I will ask Abu Muthanna, because he is the best at remembering [shackling noise]. Since 1958 the Iraqi army has been using these kinds of suits [people commenting and talking in the background].
Saddam: I want to make sure that—close the door please [door slams)]—the germ and chemical warheads, as well as the chemical and germ bombs, are available to the “concerned people,” so that in case we ordered an attack, they can do it without missing any of their targets?
Husayn Kamil: Sir, if you’ll allow me. Some of the chemicals now are distributed, this is according to the last report from the Minister of Defense, which was submitted to you sir. Chemical warheads are stored and are ready at Air Bases, and they know how and when to deal with, as well as arm these heads. Also, some other artillery machines and rockets (missiles) are available from the army. While some of the empty “stuff” is available for us, our position is very good, and we don’t have any operational problems. Moreover, in the past, many substantial items and materials were imported; now, we were able to establish a local project, which was established to comply with daily production. Also, another bigger project will be finalized within a month, as well as a third project in the coming two to three months that will keep us on the safe side, in terms of supply. We, Sir, only deal in common materials like phosphorus, ethyl alcohol and methyl [interrupted].
Saddam: Etc. . . . this is not important to me.
Husayn Kamil: So, Sir, regarding the germs and [he pauses].
Saddam: And the Chemicals.
Husayn Kamil: No, we have some of the chemicals available [interrupted].
Saddam: So, we qualify that the missiles, by tomorrow, will be ready on the 15th.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, we don’t have the germs.
Saddam: Then, where are they?
Husayn Kamil: It’s with us.
Saddam: what is it doing with you, I need these germs to be fixed on the missiles, and tell him to hit, because starting the 15th, everyone should be ready for the action to happen at anytime, and I consider Riyadh as a target.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, let me explain to you. What we produced now are the rocket heads and the containers, and we distributed them underground in three different locations. We considered these locations the best places we have, and that if we had a chance to scatter and to find more locations, then we would have done it. These locations are far away from Baghdad, this is problematic because of transportation which will take seven days to commute, but we minimized all the transportation procedures in a way. However, when we want to commute it, we cannot do it within one day Sir, and if we want to do it by plane, then, Sir, we have to go for the method [paused].
Saddam: Let’s talk about it later [waiters entered the room, sound of plates banging and side talks to the waiters].
Husayn Kamil: (door slams) Sir, we have three types of germ weapons, but we have to decide which one we should use, some types stay capable for many years [interrupted].
Saddam: we want the long term, the many years kind.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, this option is available and all other options are available as well.
Saddam: You mean at which time should we use it and at which moment!
Husayn Kamil: Yes sir. That is why there has to be a decision about which method of attack we use: a missile, a fighter bomb or a fighter plane.
Saddam: With them all, all the methods.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, we have to calculate now [interrupted].
Saddam: Husayn knows about those.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, there are some calculations we have to do, since we have modified fighters. The bombs or the warheads are all available, but the moment for using them at zero hour is something we should indicate sir; we will say that this will be launched (interrupted).
Saddam: At the moment of use (zero hour), you should launch them all against their targets.
Husayn Kamil: All of the methods are available, sir.
Saddam: We don’t want to depend on one option. The missiles will be intercepted and the planes, at least one will crash, but whenever the missiles or planes fall down over the enemy land, then I consider the goal is achieved and the mission fulfilled.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, it is available and stored “somewhere,” but if you, Sir, order us to transfer it, we are a bit worried it will cause contamination. It has been stored for 45 to 47 years, and yet has not been certified as being safe (uncontaminated). Sir, it had been experimented on only once and some of the employees, Sir, were contaminated.
-Time 07:36-08:20, Saddam: I want as soon as possible, if we are not transferring the weapons, to issue a clear order to the “concerned people” that the weapon should be in their hands ASAP. I might even give them a “non-return access. “ [Translator Comment: to have access to the weapons; to take them with them and not to return them]. I will give them an order stating that at “one moment,” if I ‘m not there and you don’t hear my voice, you will hear somebody else’s voice, so you can receive the order from him, and then you can go attack your targets. I want the weapons to be distributed to targets; I want Riyadh and Jeddah, which are the biggest Saudi cities with all the decision makers, and the Saudi rulers live there. This is for the germ and chemical weapons.
Husayn Kamil: In terms of chemical weapons, we have an excellent situation and good grip on them
[Translator Comment: they are in good control of them].
Saddam: Only in case we are obliged and there is a great necessity to put them into action. Also, all the Israeli cities, all of them. Of course you should concentrate on Tel Aviv, since it is their center.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, the best way to transport this weapon and achieve the most harmful effects would come by using planes, like a crop plane; to scatter it. This is, Sir, a thousand times more harmful. This is according to the analyses of the technicians (interrupted).
Saddam: We should consider alternatives Husayn (He called Husayn Kamil, Husayn). Meaning that if the planes don’t arrive, then the missile will, and if the missile is intercepted, the plane will arrive.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, it is rare that the missiles are intercepted.
Saddam: Anyways, it is our duty to think of all the bad scenarios of this mission. Then Israel first, and if the Americans attack us with unconventional, harmful types of weapons, or at the moment we see it feasible to attack, but as for now, put Riyadh and Jeddah as targets.
Saddam: Air Force Commander [Muzahim Sa’b Hasan Muhammad Al Nasiri, at the time], you should coordinate with the Minister of Industry to get access to the weapons in the shortest time possible, of course with a lot of consideration for the technical and safety factors. Also, I want to give a written authorization to the “concerned people” that is signed by me, in case something happens to me. You know this is a life and death issue, all the orders about targets are sealed in writing and authenticated. Furthermore, for the officials from the missile (rockets) authority, you should coordinate with them so that they take the missile to locations. They are to inform the chief of staff, or operations commander deputy, to go to Husayn, Minister of Industry and go with the same necessary procedures. Regarding the chemical weapon [interrupted].
Husayn Kamil: We are really in good control of it sir.
Saddam: No, I mean it should be with the “taking action” people. [Translator Comment: the people who will execute the command; implementers.]
Husayn Kamil: Sir, the chemical is available and our establishment is the one responsible for commuting the weapon and supervising how it is used.
Saddam: Excellent. Do you have anything stocked in the establishment stores?
Husayn Kamil: We have (empty) heads but we also have production all over. Not only in the factories; it is scattered.
Saddam: I want you to keep in mind that by the 15th nothing should be stored in your factories that the “enemy” can have access to.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, the Ministry of defense should pull that “Stuff” out. The Ministry of defense already ordered 25% of that stuff. When and if they ask us for the rest, we will have no problem supplying it. Sir, we are in an excellent & prepared situation regarding the missile warheads and fighter’s bombs. They are all modified and ready for launching any time, the chemical and the germ.
No conversation (sound of plates banging).
Saddam: Where are the most American forces and troops gathered and concentrated?
Speaker 2: Sir, it is in Khalid Military city “Madinat Khalid,” located 60 kilometers past Hafr Al-Baten in Saudi, where the front General Command and Air Force Command are located. Most of the American army sectors, Sir, are by the coastal side in Al-Dammam, where most of the camp complexes exist.
Saddam: I want these big gatherings and complexes to be allocated properly and given to the Air Force commander to be added to the above targets of the germs weapons. This should be done by an order to Muzahim. This is by a direct order and it has the green light from me, since this mission doesn’t fall into daily regular operations. I will issue a letter, signed by me, listing the commands and the alternative plans and probabilities of this mission, which should be followed literally.
Speaker 2: Sir, Economically important targets such as refineries, power plants & water reservoirs, should we include them in the mission?
Saddam: These locations should be put under the regular Air Force operations, and included in attacks not on this particular mission.
Husayn Kamil: Sir, these vital locations must be added to the mission and become priority targets to the biological & chemical weapons, because this will end all sorts of life. People are drinking water from these desalination plants and getting their fuel from refineries, thus ending the mission.
Saddam: Muzahim has already written these locations down and will take care of it, Refineries and [interrupted].
Muzahim: The Refineries and desalination plants, Sir.
Saddam: May God help us do it. Then there was no conversation.
Saddam: We will never lower our heads as long as we are alive, even if we have to destroy everybody.
The recording continues after this for a further 48 minutes, in which the participants discuss other military matters, such as senior command appointments and low-level defensive preparations. There was no further discussion of WMD.