Bulk BW Agents
Biological Warfare - Annex A
Under UNSCR 687 Iraq was required to disclose all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program. However, four years passed before Iraq admitted it had an offensive BW program. Even after this, despite warnings about the consequences of not disclosing everything completely and truthfully from the UN, Iraq chose defiance. Iraq never disclosed the true amount of B. anthracis and probably other BW agents it had produced before 1992 as well as several locations where bulk BW agent was stored, and in one case, destroyed, according to multiple sources.UN inspectors on many occasions asked members of Iraq’s BW program about additional storage sites, suggesting that they suspected, or knew of such a site or sites, but Iraqi officials persisted with their deceit until OIF and beyond.
Disparities in Declarations Concerning Pre-1992 B. anthracis Production
Information obtained by ISG from several sources with access to Iraq’s former BW program and other related historical information show that Saddam’s Regime probably did not declare the production of thousands of liters of B. anthracis. This information appears to support pre-OIF judgments made by the Intelligence Community and UN inspectors that Iraq did not disclose the total amount of BW agent it had produced, and therefore continued to be in violation of UNSC resolutions. Although ISG assesses there to be only a very small chance that Iraq kept some of this undeclared B. anthracis until OIF, ISG has been unable to obtain evidence to substantiate preservation or complete destruction of the agent.
Iraq produced much more B. anthracis between 1989 and early 1991 than it declared to the UN, according to an individual that worked in Iraq’s former BW program. This individual told ISG that approximately 550 kilograms (kg) of the peptone growth media Iraq declared as “lost” actually was used to produce the B. anthracis that was not declared. Enriched mediums, such as peptone were used by Iraq to produce seed B. anthracis for the bulk production process.
BW agent production continued at Al Hakam until the day before the start of the first Gulf war in January 1991—contrary to Iraqi declarations, which stated that production ceased at the end of 1990—and the FMDV Plant was used to produce B. anthracis, according to an Iraqi formerly involved in biological agent research.
UNSCOM found B. anthracis in two fermentors and a mobile storage tank at the FMDV Plant that was “consistent with the strain used in Iraq’s BW program,” according to an UNMOVIC document on Iraq’s unresolved disarmament issues (UDIs) as of 6 March 2003. Two pieces of the equipment that tested positive were destroyed by UNSCOM in 1996, and subsequent sampling of the FMDV Plant in November 1996 did not detect B. anthracis on any remaining equipment.
Iraq’s Military Industrialization Commission (MIC) sequestered a portion of the production facility at the FMDV Plant from July 1990 until July 1991 for secretive work that emitted a smell of peptone two to three times a week, according to a current assistant manager of the FMDV Plant who has worked there since the early 1980s. ISG judges some of this secretive MIC work was the botulinum toxin production Iraq declared it produced at the FMDV Plant in November and December 1990; however, the continuous peptone smell outside of these dates fits with information from the individual that worked in Iraq’s former BW program, who told us that the peptone declared as “lost” was actually used to produce more B. anthracis than was declared at both the FMDV and Al Hakam.
- UNSCOM and UNMOVIC could not verify the amount of BW agent Iraq declared producing because of discrepancies in its reporting of the amount of media and fermentor time available to produce the agent, according to the UNMOVIC document on Iraq’s UDIs.
Despite repeated attempts by ISG to confirm this information with interviews with key personalities who would be knowledgeable, no further information or physical evidence has been collected up to this point.
Undeclared Movement and Destruction of Bulk BW Agent
ISG has conducted a series of interviews and site visits to uncover more information on the movement and destruction of at least some bulk BW agent in 1991. When Iraq disclosed its offensive BW program in 1995, those involved decided not to disclose the movements and destruction areas associated with bulk BW agents.
A scientist who worked for the former Iraqi Regime told ISG that Iraq destroyed three tons of B. anthracis at Al ‘Aziziyah. ISG assesses that this three tons of B. anthracis only is a portion of that not declared to the UN.
An assistant of Dr. Rihab told UN inspectors in early 1997 that he had taken an unspecified number of one-cubic meter tanks filled with B. anthracis into the desert north of Baghdad near An Nibai and dumped the agent there in July 1991, according to the Iraqi formerly involved in biological agent research.
The chief reason offered for not declaring agent disposal at Ar Radwaniyah was fear of informing Regime officials that Dr. Rihab’s BW staff had deposited deactivated B. anthracis and probably at least one other agent in an area surrounded by Special Republican Guard (SRG) barracks and within site of the Ar Radwaniyah Presidential Palace.
How high up the chain of command this knowledge of undeclared movement and destruction went is yet to be determined. Evidence suggests that the Head of the Technical Research Center (TRC), Ahmad Murtada, the official responsible to Husayn Kamil for BW, knew, but he denies it. It has yet to be determined if ‘Amir Al Sa’adi, Husam Amin, or the Vice President and the Higher Committee also knew.
This deception, in effect, prevented any possibility of the UN accepting the Iraqi account of its BW program. Whether those involved understood the significance and disastrous consequences of their actions is unclear. These efforts demonstrate the problems that existed on both sides in establishing the truth.