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....
Saddam Husyan, January 1991
Evolution of the Biological Warfare Program
Research and Development
Concealment And Destruction of Biological Weapons
A. Bulk BW Agents
B. BW Research and Development Facilities
C. ISG Investigation of Iraq’s Reported Mobile
Biological Warfare Agent Production Capability
D. Trailers Suspected of Being Mobil BW Agent
The Biological Warfare (BW) program was born of the Iraqi Intelligence
Service (IIS) and this service retained its connections with the program
either directly or indirectly throughout its existence.
- The IIS provided the BW program with security and participated in
biological research, probably for its own purposes, from the beginning
of Iraq’s BW effort in the early 1970s until the final days of Saddam
In 1991, Saddam Husayn regarded BW as an integral element of his
arsenal of WMD weapons, and would have used it if the need arose.
- At a meeting of the Iraqi leadership immediately prior to the Gulf
war in 1991, Saddam Husayn personally authorized the use of BW weapons
against Israel, Saudi Arabia and US forces. Although the exact nature
of the circumstances that would trigger use was not spelled out, they
would appear to be a threat to the leadership itself or the US resorting
to “unconventional harmful types of weapons.”
- Saddam envisaged all-out use. For example, all Israeli cities were
to be struck and all the BW weapons at his disposal were to be used.
Saddam specified that the “many years” agents, presumably anthrax
spores, were to be employed against his foes.
ISG judges that Iraq’s actions between 1991 and 1996 demonstrate
that the state intended to preserve its BW capability and return to a
steady, methodical progress toward a mature BW program when and if the
- ISG assesses that in 1991, Iraq clung to the objective of gaining
war-winning weapons with the strategic intention of achieving the ability
to project its power over much of the Middle East and beyond. Biological
weapons were part of that plan. With an eye to the future and aiming
to preserve some measure of its BW capability, Baghdad in the years
immediately after Desert Storm sought to save what it could of its BW
infrastructure and covertly continue BW research, hide evidence of that
and earlier efforts, and dispose of its existing weapons stocks.
- From 1992 to 1994, Iraq greatly expanded the capability of its Al
Hakam facility. Indigenously produced 5 cubic meter fermentors were
installed, electrical and water utilities were expanded, and massive
new construction to house its desired 50 cubic meter fermentors were
- With the economy at rock bottom in late 1995, ISG judges that Baghdad
abandoned its existing BW program in the belief that it constituted
a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad’s
ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions.
In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility,
Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG
found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW
program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes. Indeed,
from the mid-1990s, despite evidence of continuing interest in nuclear
and chemical weapons, there appears to be a complete absence of discussion
or even interest in BW at the Presidential level.
Iraq would have faced great difficulty in re-establishing an effective
BW agent production capability. Nevertheless, after 1996 Iraq still had
a significant dual-use capability—some declared—readily useful for BW
if the Regime chose to use it to pursue a BW program. Moreover, Iraq still
possessed its most important BW asset, the scientific know-how of its
- Any attempt to create a new BW program after 1996 would have encountered
a range of major hurdles. The years following Desert Storm wrought a
steady degradation of Iraq’s industrial base: new equipment and spare
parts for existing machinery became difficult and expensive to obtain,
standards of maintenance declined, staff could not receive training
abroad, and foreign technical assistance was almost impossible to get.
Additionally, Iraq’s infrastructure and public utilities were crumbling.
New large projects, particularly if they required special foreign equipment
and expertise, would attract international attention. UN monitoring
of dual-use facilities up to the end of 1998, made their use for clandestine
purpose complicated and risk laden.
Depending on its scale, Iraq could have re-established an elementary
BW program within a few weeks to a few months of a decision to do so,
but ISG discovered no indications that the Regime was pursuing such a
- In spite of the difficulties noted above, a BW capability is technically
the easiest WMD to attain. Although equipment and facilities were destroyed
under UN supervision in 1996, Iraq retained technical BW know-how through
the scientists that were involved in the former program. ISG has also
identified civilian facilities and equipment in Iraq that have dual-use
application that could be used for the production of agent.
ISG judges that in 1991 and 1992, Iraq appears to have destroyed
its undeclared stocks of BW weapons and probably destroyed remaining holdings
of bulk BW agent. However ISG lacks evidence to document complete destruction.
Iraq retained some BW-related seed stocks until their discovery after
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
- After the passage of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 687 in
April 1991, Iraqi leaders decided not to declare the offensive BW program
and in consequence ordered all evidence of the program erased. Iraq
declared that BW program personnel sanitized the facilities and destroyed
the weapons and their contents.
- Iraq declared the possession of 157 aerial bombs and 25 missile warheads
containing BW agent. ISG assesses that the evidence for the original
number of bombs is uncertain. ISG judges that Iraq clandestinely destroyed
at least 132 bombs and 25 missiles. ISG continued the efforts of the
UN at the destruction site but found no remnants of further weapons.
This leaves the possibility that the fragments of up to 25 bombs may
remain undiscovered. Of these, any that escaped destruction would probably
now only contain degraded agent.
- ISG does not have a clear account of bulk agent destruction. Official
Iraqi sources and BW personnel, state that Al Hakam staff destroyed
stocks of bulk agent in mid 1991. However, the same personnel admit
concealing details of the movement and destruction of bulk BW agent
in the first half of 1991. Iraq continued to present information known
to be untrue to the UN up to OIF. Those involved did not reveal this
until several months after the conflict.
- Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha Al ‘Azzawi, head of the bacterial program claims
she retained BW seed stocks until early 1992 when she destroyed them.
ISG has not found a means of verifying this. Some seed stocks were retained
by another Iraqi official until 2003 when they were recovered by ISG.
ISG is aware of BW-applicable research since 1996, but ISG judges
it was not conducted in connection with a BW program.
- ISG has uncovered no evidence of illicit research conducted into BW
agents by universities or
- The work conducted on a biopesticide (Bacillus thuringiensis)
at Al Hakam until 1995 would serve to maintain the basic skills required
by scientists to produce and dry anthrax spores (Bacillus anthracis)
but ISG has not discovered evidence suggesting this was the Regime’s
intention. However in 1991, research and production on biopesticide
and single cell protein (SCP) was selected by Iraq to provide cover
for Al Hakam’s role in Iraq’s BW program. Similar work conducted at
the Tuwaitha Agricultural and Biological Research Center (TABRC) up
to OIF also maintained skills that were applicable to BW, but again,
ISG found no evidence to suggest that this was the intention.
- Similarly, ISG found no information to indicate that the work carried
out by TABRC into Single Cell Protein (SCP) was a cover story for continuing
research into the production of BW agents, such as C. botulinum
and B. anthracis, after the destruction of Al Hakam through to
- TABRC conducted research and development (R&D) programs to enable
indigenous manufacture of bacterial growth media. Although these media
are suitable for the bulk production of BW agents, ISG has found no
evidence to indicate that their development and testing were specifically
for this purpose.
- Although Iraq had the basic capability to work with variola major
(smallpox), ISG found no evidence that it retained any stocks of smallpox
or actively conducted research into this agent for BW intentions.
The IIS had a series of laboratories that conducted biological
work including research into BW agents for assassination purposes until
the mid-1990s. ISG has not been able to establish the scope and nature
of the work at these laboratories or determine whether any of the work
was related to military development of BW agent.
- The security services operated a series of laboratories in the Baghdad
area. Iraq should have declared these facilities and their equipment
to the UN, but they did not. Neither the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM)
nor the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)
were aware of their existence or inspected them.
- Some of the laboratories possessed equipment capable of supporting
research into BW agents for military purposes, but ISG does not know
whether this occurred although there is no evidence of it. The laboratories
were probably the successors of the Al Salman facility, located three
kilometers south of Salman Pak, which was destroyed in 1991, and they
carried on many of the same activities, including forensic work.
- Under the aegis of the intelligence service, a secretive team developed
assassination instruments using poisons or toxins for the Iraqi state.
A small group of scientists, doctors and technicians conducted secret
experiments on human beings, resulting in their deaths. The aim was
probably the development of poisons, including ricin and aflatoxin to
eliminate or debilitate the Regime’s opponents. It appears that testing
on humans continued until the mid 1990s. There is no evidence to link
these tests with the development of BW agents for military use.
In spite of exhaustive investigation, ISG found no evidence that
Iraq possessed, or was developing BW agent production systems mounted
on road vehicles or railway wagons.
- Prior to OIF there was information indicating Iraq had planned and
built a breakout BW capability, in the form of a set of mobile production
units, capable of producing BW agent at short notice in sufficient quantities
to weaponize. Although ISG has conducted a thorough investigation of
every aspect of this information, it has not found any equipment suitable
for such a program, nor has ISG positively identified any sites. No
documents have been uncovered. Interviews with individuals suspected
of involvement have all proved
- ISG harbors severe doubts about the source’s credibility in regards
to the breakout program.
- ISG thoroughly examined two trailers captured in 2003, suspected of
being mobile BW agent production units, and investigated the associated
evidence. ISG judges that its Iraqi makers almost certainly designed
and built the equipment exclusively for the generation of hydrogen.
It is impractical to use the equipment for the production and weaponization
of BW agent. ISG judges that it cannot therefore be part of any BW program.
Evolution of the Biological Warfare Program
The Regime Strategy and WMD Timeline
For an overview of Iraqi WMD programs and policy choices, readers
should consult the Regime Strategy and WMD Timeline chart, enclosed as
a separate foldout and in tabular form at the back of Volume I. Covering
the period from 1980-2003, the timeline shows specific events bearing
on the Regime’s efforts in the BW, CW, delivery systems and nuclear realms
and their chronological relationship with political and military developments
that had direct bearing on the Regime’s policy choices.
Readers should also be aware that, at the conclusion of each volume
of text, ISG has included a foldout summary chart that relate, inflection
points—critical turning points in the Regime’s WMD
policymaking—to particular events, initiatives, or decisions the Regime
took with respect to specific WMD programs. Inflection points are marked
in the margins of the text with a gray triangle.
Evolution of the Biological Warfare Program
For more than 20 years Iraq pursued a program of secret research,
development and production in a bid to acquire a BW capability with which
to defend its interests and project its influence beyond Iraq’s borders.
A well-kept secret known to only a handful of leaders, Iraq’s BW program—approved
by Saddam Husayn, overseen by Husayn Kamil Hasan Al Majid, guided by Dr.
‘Amir Hamudi Hasan Al Sa’adi, and closely linked to the IIS—culminated
in the first Gulf war in January 1991, by which point Iraq had developed
a small but impressive arsenal of BW weapons comprising over 100 bombs,
at least 25 Al Husayn warheads filled with anthrax spores, botulinum toxin
and aflatoxin, as well as many thousands of liters of these agents stored
in bulk, for use in Iraq’s unsophisticated delivery systems. Iraq’s BW
infrastructure emerged from that conflict damaged, but not destroyed,
and the in the wake of the war the Regime tried to preserve what it could
of its BW program. Aiming to leave open the option of restarting BW activities
once UN inspections were over and sanctions were lifted, Baghdad attempted
to remove all possible signatures of its past offensive activities. Simultaneously,
Iraq undertook a significant denial and deception effort intended to conceal
from the UN the true nature, scope, and ultimate objectives of the program.
By 1995, these efforts had failed, and Iraq admitted its offensive program,
leading in 1996 to the destruction, at Saddam’s orders and under UN supervision,
of most of the Iraq’s BW physical infrastructure.
The destruction of the BW infrastructure in the mid-1990s halted
Iraq’s BW activities, with the exception of its efforts to preserve intellectual
know-how, the Regime’s most valuable asset. BW programs are primarily
the product of trained innovative scientific minds. Extensive scientific
laboratories and vast industrial complexes are unnecessary. A handful
of dedicated, bright scientists, supported by dexterous, intelligent,
and experienced technicians working with simple but effective equipment,
materials, and animals in a secure environment can accomplish most of
what is required to lay the foundations of a BW program. In comparison
to nuclear and chemical weapons (CW) programs, individuals’ intellectual
capabilities play a far greater role in determining the success or failure
of a program than the physical resources to which they may have access.
Thus, any account of Iraq’s BW program is largely a story of the key experts
who are involved, and only secondarily a history of facilities and equipment
(see Figure 1).
Ambition: The Early Years, 1960-1985.
first foray into chemical and biological warfare (CBW) was rooted in the
nationalist wave that swept the Middle East in the 1960s under Egypt’s
president, Gamal Abdul Nasser, when Arab military leaders concluded the
time had come to increase their understanding of the technology of modern
warfare.Select junior officers in Iraq’s armed forces traveled
overseas for CBW training, among them Lt. Nizar Al Attar, who attended
the CBW courses at Fort McClellan in the US and was later to head Iraq’s
CW program and introduce BW to Al Muthanna State Establishment (MSE).
In 1964, the Iraqi Army established a Chemical Corps, thus taking the
first step that led to the acquisition of CBW. Following the Ba’thist
revolution of 17 July 1968 that brought Ahmad Hasan Al Bakr to power,
senior army officers, encouraged by their technologically aware subordinates,
decided to embark on a CW program. It was an amateur affair consisting
of small groups trying to develop agent. By the early 1970s, the attempt
In 1974, a charismatic officer, Ghassan Ibrahim founded a laboratory,
nominally a respectable academic body run by the Ministry of Higher Education
and Scientific Research carrying out legitimate scientific research, named
the Al Hasan Ibn-al-Haytham [Al Hazen Ibn-al-Haithem] Research Institute
(see Figure 2). In reality, the institute
was a front for clandestine activity in CW, BW, electronics, and optics
under the patronage of the IIS. Ibrahim’s assistant was an intelligence
officer, Fa’iz ‘Abdallah Al Shahin, who would later oversee Iraq’s production
of CW agents during the Iran-Iraq war and play a key role in the development
of other nonconventional weapons, such as radiological bombs. He would
also briefly supervise part of the BW program. Later still, Fa’iz would
become Deputy Minister of Oil.
Al Hasan was a large, coordinated effort to master the technologies associated
with several aspects of modern warfare. Quickly Al Hasan established chemical
laboratories at Al Rashad, NE of Baghdad, posing as ‘The Center for Medical
Diagnostics’ and a temporary biological center in the Al ‘Amiriyah suburb
of Baghdad. A purpose built closed-institute soon followed: the Ibn-Sina
Center at Al Salman occupying a peninsula formed by the River Tigris 30km
south of Baghdad. The Ibn-Sina Center masqueraded as ‘The Center for Medical
Agriculture’. After occupying a temporary headquarters in Sadun Street
in the center of Baghdad, Al Hasan built a new headquarters and physics
laboratory at Masbah nearby and later added an electronics laboratory
at Tajiyat, north of Baghdad.
The generation of scientists trained and employed at Al Hasan, many of
whom devoted more than 20 years of their careers to the pursuit of WMD,
formed the backbone of Iraq’s later CW and BW programs. Initially, a group
of nine scientists drawn from the Ministries of Higher Education, Defense
and Health led the original offensive BW effort, conducting research into
bacteria, toxins, and viruses, emphasizing production, pathogenicity,
dissemination and storage of agents, such as Clostridium botulinum,
spores of Bacillus anthracis, cholera, polio, and influenza virus.
Later, in both chemical and biological disciplines, the Al Hasan Institute
engaged prominent scientists to train and guide more junior staff and
chemical corps officers. Dr. Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Mun’im Al Azmirli, an Egyptian,
mentored the chemists and Dr. Muzhir [Mudher, Modher] Al Falluji led the
biologists. The Institute sponsored its staff to study abroad for PhDs
in subjects appropriate for the CW or BW effort. The Iraqi Regime rewarded
success with promotion, high status, money, and material goods.
The second attempt to develop BW also faltered despite considerable effort.
The Minister of Defense and Dr. ‘Amir Al Sa’adi concluded in a 1978 investigation
that Al Hasan had failed to deliver what it promised and that there had
been academic and financial fraud. Arrests and imprisonment of several
researchers followed for fraud and embezzlement surrounding the purported
development of influenza as a BW agent. Al Sa’adi decided that project
was a failure, not having made enough progress toward industrial scale
BW production and should be shut down, which the Iraqi government did
on 16 January 1979, exactly 6 months before President Ahmad Hasan Al Bakr
resigned in favor of his Vice President, Saddam Husayn. The facilities
and staff were parceled out to various government establishments such
as State Organization for Technical Industries (SOTI). The best personnel
went to the IIS. Between 1979 and 1985, Iraq rebuilt and expanded the
dual-use infrastructure for BW research, but undertook little work of
- In 1979, a presidential decree created the Scientific and Technical
Research Directorate (STRD) which later became the Technical Research
Center (TRC), as a technical support agency for the IIS and to replace
the Al Hasan as a cover mechanism for continued work on the development
of chemical and biological agents.
- The IIS continued small-scale CBW activities, recruiting chemists
and scientists from universities and private laboratories and assigning
them to Al Salman to conduct research.
- In 1983, a militarily relevant BW program restarted at the CW facility
at Al Muthanna. UN inspectors were told that the initiative for this
came from the Director General (DG) of Al Muthanna, Lt. Gen. Nizar Al
Attar, who then received endorsement from the Minister of Defense. ISG
has been unable to establish the veracity of this story, although it
is apparent that a BW program started there in 1984 under the auspices
of the MOD, funded by the State Organization for Technical Industries
(SOTI), and headed at the research level by a new recruit, Dr. Rihab.
Her direction, at least at the working level, was at this time given
by Lt. Gen. Nizar who instructed her that he “did not want research
to put on a shelf. He wanted applied research to put in a bomb.”
Renewed Ambition and Near-Realization: 1985-1991
outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 altered Baghdad’s perception of
the value of WMD and led to a reinvigoration of the BW program. In
the view of Iraqi leaders, Iraq’s CW halted Iranian ground offensives
and ballistic missile attacks on Tehran broke its political will.
- According to Brig. Dr. Mahmud Farraj Bilal Al Samarra’i, Iraq’s war
with Iran was the catalyst to reactivate Iraq’s BW efforts. Iraq’s success
with CW during its war with Iran only reaffirmed the potential value
of unconventional capabilities like BW. He opined that, “if the Iran
war lasted beyond 1988, Saddam would have used BW.” Further, Iraq’s
concerns about Israel and their WMD capabilities provided additional
impetus to seek a strategic counterbalance to deter foreign threats.
- Dr. Bilal added additional perspectives on the strategic intent of
Iraqi’s BW program, which he described as a strategic capability that
would compliment Iraq’s CW efforts with great potential for achieving
surprise. Bilal also commented that Iraq considered BW a potential counterbalance
to the Israeli threat, but acknowledged that Iraq lacked an effective
delivery system to mount a BW attack against Israel.
- After the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, one of the country’s most
eminent microbiologists and one of its few experts in fermentation,
Professor Nassir Al Hindawi of Mustansiriyah University, submitted a
proposal for BW research to the Presidential Diwan. The leadership directed
his proposal to Lt. Gen. Nizar, the DG of Al Muthanna. Al Hindawi convinced
Saddam to utilize disease-causing agents to aid the war effort against
Iran. The focus of his interest was developing botulinum toxin as tactical
nerve-like BW agent and anthrax as a strategic and tactical weapon.
In the early 1980s Baghdad stepped up the pace of it BW program
significantly.In 1983, the remnants of the first BW effort became
formally part of Al Muthanna under the direction of Lt. Gen. Nizar Al
Attar. According to UNSCOM reporting, a formal research plan was drafted
that year committing to BW research. Meanwhile, close by at the old facilities
of the Al Hasan Institute, Al Salman was conducting a parallel BW research
program under the authority of the intelligence services that included
research into an anti-crop fungal agent, Tilletia, and the development
of a bacterial spray device (known as the Zubaydi device, after its inventor).
Al Salman tested the spray device, mounted on a helicopter, with reportedly
inconclusive results, at Khan Bani Sa’ad in August 1988.
In late 1984, on returning from completing her PhD in the UK, Dr. Rihab
was contacted by Lt. Gen. Nizar and directed to report to Al Muthanna,
where she took over technical leadership of the BW program and led it
to a series of achievements. According to Dr. Rihab, in 1983, there
was an informal decision made to revitalize the BW program. Three years
later, a 5-year plan was drawn up that would lead to BW weaponization,a
course Dr. Rihab and her group implemented with urgency, authority, and
great secrecy demonstrating considerable planning. Dr. Rihab formed a
team and commenced extensive literature surveys, based initially on the
citation indices of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) publications
of the 1960 and 1970s. The team also started conducting toxicological
investigations. Under her leadership of the technical elements, the program
moved steadily through a series of discrete phases.
- In 1985, Dr. Rihab ordered reference strains of several pathogenic
organisms from a variety of foreign sources and began basic research
on candidate BW agents. Al Hindawi became an advisor to her in 1986.
- In 1986, under the guise of work at Baghdad University, she successfully
ordered multiple isolates of pathogens from the American Type Culture
Collection (ATCC), such as B. anthracis for use in the early
BW agent research effort.
- In 1987, the program moved from Al Muthanna to Al Salman. The group
now under the control of Ahmad Murtada, DG of the TRC, recruited new
staff and broadened its range of agents. Murtada was an acolyte of Husayn
Kamil and relied on the Military Industrialization Commission (MIC)
and its Senior Deputy, Dr. ‘Amir Al Sa’adi, for the weapons aspects
of the program. Equipment from the At Taji SCP Plant was transferred
to Al Salman in August that year.
- Also in 1987, Dr. Rihab and Dr. ‘Amir Al Sa’adi discussed the possibility
of developing a transportable system for the production of BW agents.
She claims that the idea was largely ‘Amir Al Sa’adi’s and that she
rejected the proposal in favor of a fixed production site at Al Hakam.
- In 1988, they opened the facility at Al Hakam. Production of anthrax,
botulinum toxin and Clostridium perfringens started. Weapon development
and testing followed.
- In May 1988, TRC broadened the base of the BW program by adding a
mycologist, Dr. ‘Imad Dhiyab, with a team that researched fungal toxins,
including trichothecene mycotoxins and later aflatoxin. The connection,
if any, of this work with the earlier fungal work at Al Salman, is unknown.
- When Iraq tried to expand the production capacity of Al Hakam by importing
three 5 cubic meter fermentation vessels from the Swiss company Chemap
in 1988, the export license was denied; this, despite implementing an
elaborate deception plan involving a fake production building at Al
Qa’qa’a. However, fermentors and other equipment were requisitioned
from an Iraqi veterinary vaccine plant at Al Kindi and transferred to
Al Hakam in November 1988.
- In 1989, Dr. Rihab sought to have a spray dryer manufactured in Iraq
for work at Al Hakam. Iraqi companies were able to fabricate the body
of a dryer but not the other components. In fact, there was already
a dryer at Al Hakam that would, with some safety modifications, have
been suitable for drying BW agent. This dryer had been transferred from
the At Taji SCP Plant to Al Hakam in 1988. Nevertheless, she sought
from overseas a commercial dryer that could, without modification, safely
dry anthrax. In 1989, Iraq approached a foreign manufacturer of dryers
with a sample of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to be dried for
biopesticide purposes as a cover for the true purpose. The company did
not supply Iraq with the special dryer.
early 1990, Iraq was methodically advancing toward the acquisition of
a BW component to its arsenal of WMD. Iraq had conducted laboratory
and environmental static and dynamic explosive field tests of wheat cover
smut, aflatoxin, anthrax simulants (Bacillus subtilis and thuringiensis),
botulinum toxin, Clostridium perfringens and ricin. Following Saddam
Husayn’s speech on 2 April 1990 that identified Israel as a threat, Husayn
Kamil ordered the BW program to go all out for weaponization. The program
took on a sudden urgency and its direction changed dramatically; frenetic
and convulsive efforts to adapt new weapons and acquire and expand BW
agent production replaced the years of orderly progress.
the time of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990, the BW
program had moved into high gear with the aim of fielding filled weapons
as quickly as possible. Also in August 1990, Al Hakam commenced production
of Clostridium perfringens, the causative agent of gas gangrene.
There is no evidence of the weaponization of this material and details
of its disposal remain uncertain.
- Botulinum toxin and anthrax were the backbone of the Iraqi pre-1991
BW program. In addition to the production activities at Al Hakam, the
Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine plant (FMDV) at Al Dawrah was adapted
for the production of botulinum toxin and continued to produce the agent
until they evacuated the site on 15 January 1991, two days before the
start of Desert Storm. While senior Iraqi officials deny production
of anthrax at FMDV, the UN found traces of anthrax on two fermentors
and a mobile storage tank in the facility. One source has informed ISG
that the site did produce anthrax. ISG concludes that FMDV produced
anthrax. ISG does not know whether the fate of this anthrax was the
same as that produced at Al Hakam.
- Dr. Hazim ‘Ali, recruited in July 1990 to lead the development of
viral agents, took over the FMDV Plant at Al Dawrah in September of
that year, renaming it ‘Al Manal’. He commenced work on viruses including
hemorrhagic conjunctivis, human rotavirus, and camel pox with a view
to weaponization. Hazim’s viral work was still in its infancy by the
time of Desert Storm and very little had actually been achieved.
In parallel with the production of BW agents, other facilities
were manufacturing R-400 aerial bombs and warheads for the Al Husayn missile.Husayn
Kamil had the final say over which agents to weaponize. Although in November
1990, Al Muthanna started adapting an aircraft auxiliary fuel tank as
a means of dispersing BW agent, a few days after the invasion of Kuwait,
Husayn Kamil chose to use the R-400 aerial bomb and the Al Husayn missile
warhead because they were already in use for CW agents. There was no discussion
of how to weaponize BW agents because of lack of time and the pressing
need to make decisions quickly. Additional weapons testing of R-400 bombs
using an anthrax simulant, B. subtilis, occurred leading up to
the war. In addition, there is an unconfirmed report that Bt was used
in explosive testing of an unidentified BW munition at Al Hakam between
September 1990 and January 1991.
- In November 1990, Al Muthanna started adapting an aircraft auxiliary
fuel tank as a means of dispersing BW agents. Iraq had previously attempted
a similar development in the CW field and in a letter, dated 10 December
1990, to Husayn Kamil, Gen. Fa’iz Shahin, DG of Al Muthanna, had referred
to “successful tests of spraying mustard gas by planes which proved
to be very effective.” It appears that the BW spray device was a continuation
of this earlier effort. Sometime in early January 1991, at a meeting
of the Iraqi leadership, Husayn Kamil told Saddam: “Sir, the best way
to transport this weapon (BW) and achieve the most harmful effects would
come by using planes, like a crop duster, to scatter it. This is, Sir,
a thousand times more harmful.” Saddam responded that he wanted all
options of delivering BW agent to the targets. The Iraqi Air Force flew
the tanks with anthrax simulants to optimize the dispersion characteristics.
The Air Force also experimented with a remotely piloted MiG-21 aircraft
as a possible delivery platform for a similar tank system. These trials
only ceased when Desert Storm started.
By January 1991, reflecting the huge exertion of the previous months,
Iraq had produced large quantities of anthrax, botulinum toxin, Clostridium
perfringens, aflatoxin, and small quantities of ricin, and had
more than 180 BW weapons deployed to five hide sites. In addition, Al
Hakam protected caches of bulk BW agent containers by moving them from
site to site during the hostilities. The weapons and agent were guarded
and ready for use. The Iraqi leadership decided policy for their use and
targeting. Iraq states that the opening bombardment of 17 January 1991
destroyed the only aircraft and spray tank ready for use. Despite this,
work continued to complete another three tanks, with plans for a further
eight in preparation.
- Iraq had filled ballistic missiles and aerial bombs, and was modifying
aircraft fuel tanks to spray BW agents.
- The weapons, though not agent production, were not well designed technically
and the result of an immature development program. In ISG’s view, the
weapons were suboptimal but could have been effective in certain circumstances.
- The Iraqis were well aware of the shortcomings of the Al Husayn missile
and the R-400. Lt. Gen. Hazim, commander of the Surface-to-Surface Missile
Forces openly admitted that the Al Husayn, with a BW agent filled warhead,
would fulfill its purpose if after impact in an enemy country sufficient
material survived to enable its detection as a BW agent. It was a weapon
of terror. They were for use in extremis and only if an enemy directly
threatened the existence of the Regime in its heartland in and around
Baghdad. Except for those in the know, Iraqi armed forces treated
BW weapons as ‘special chemical’, a more toxic type of CW weapon.
Saddam himself exercised control over Iraq’s BW arsenal, and he
was prepared to use it against US and allied forces in the event of war.
At a meeting in early January 1991, he identified the targets for the
BW weapons. Israel was to be first and all Israeli cities were targets,
but he ordered that strikes concentrate on Tel Aviv. US forces were to
be targets if they attacked with unconventional forces. He also identified
Riyadh and Jeddah as targets. In a transcript of discussions held at the
time Saddam ordered the use of the more persistent (presumably anthrax)
BW agents: “we want the long term, the many years
- Saddam envisaged all out use of the weapons. He said “we don’t
want to depend on one option” and that Iraqi forces must use all
means, bombs, missiles and spray aircraft, to deliver the BW agent.
He pointed out that this was “a life and death issue and all the
orders about targets are sealed in writing and authenticated” in
case something happened to him.
- The stockpiles of weapons and bulk agents remained in their hide sites
unused and undamaged. Two officials shared the day-to-day responsibility;
Dr. Bilal for the bombs and missiles and Dr. Rihab for the bulk BW agent.
The Beginning of the Decline: Opportunity Through Ambiguity and the
End of the Game (1991-1996)
ISG assesses that in 1991, Iraq clung to the objective of gaining
war-winning weapons with strategic intent that would enable the projection
of its power over much of the Middle East and beyond. BW was part of that
an eye to the future and aiming to preserve some measure of its BW capability,
Baghdad in the years immediately after Desert Storm sought to save what
it could of its BW infrastructure, hide evidence of the program, and dispose
of its existing weapons stocks.Following Baghdad’s formal acceptance
of UNSCR 687 of 3 April 1991, Iraq had 15 days to declare its stocks of
WMD. It did not do so, and in a letter dated 18 April 1991, to the
Secretary General of the UN, Foreign Minister Tariq ‘Aziz even denied
that Iraq had any BW program. Baghdad’s action in the following
months and years indicate that it intended to preserve its BW capability
and return to the steady, methodical progress toward a mature BW capability
when inspections ended and sanctions were lifted. Thebiopesticide program
that was established after the 1991 Gulf war, temporarily preserved Iraq’s
research, development and production base at Al Hakam and, whether intentionally
or otherwise, achieved several objectives set out in the original Iraqi
BW strategic plan drafted in 1985. These included industrial-scale production
of biological agents, albeit nonpathogenic ones, and perfecting development
of dry agent formulation.
Baghdad took early steps to protect what remained of the BW physical
plant and equipment. During the first Gulf war, the only facilities
directly relevant to Iraq’s BW program that were destroyed were the research
laboratories at Al Salman and the munitions filling station at Al Muthanna.
Neither was critical to the BW program that was centered on Al Hakam.
Al Hakam at that time was unknown to the Coalition and therefore was not
attacked during the war, unlike the Abu Ghurayb Infant Formula Plant (the
Baby Milk Factory) that the Coalition
destroyed by bombing in the mistaken belief that it was a key BW facility.
Following approval of UNSCR 687 in early April 1991, Saddam Husayn
endorsed Husayn Kamil’s decision not to declare Al Hakam as part
of the BW program and decided to convert the plant to commercial
use prior to the arrival of the second UNSCOM BW team in September 1991.
Husayn Kamil pressured Dr. Rihab to complete this transition quickly to
save equipment and the jobs of the scientists and technicians.
- Saddam wanted to keep scientists employed, according to ‘Amir Muhammad
Rashid Al ‘Ubaydi. Moreover, he initially expected the sanctions would
last no more than three years, and many Iraqis doubted the sanctions
would be so comprehensive, according to several interviews with former
officials. These perceptions probably persuaded senior Regime leaders
that they could weather a short-lived sanctions regime by making limited
concessions, hiding much of their pre-existing weapons and documentation,
and even expanding BW potential by enhancing dual-use facilities.
The advent of postwar UN inspections posed serious problems for
Iraq, and in a bid to hide the true uses of the remaining plant and equipment
the Regime ordered a large scale deception effort, involving cleaning
existing plants to remove traces of BW activity, hiding relevant documents,
destroying existing stocks of agent, and concocting a cover story for
ongoing BW-related work at Al Hakam. Immediately Iraq scoured
the principal facilities to remove evidence of an offensive BW program.
The production plant was vigorously decontaminated, research papers altered,
evidence hidden or destroyed and the BW cadre agreed to provide false
accounts of past events and future intent. In the summer of 1991, on the
orders of Husayn Kamil relayed through Ahmad Murtada, Dr. Rihab ordered
that all documents associated with the BW program be destroyed and all
production activities at Al Hakam be stopped. She claims to have collected
all documents, kept a few, and destroyed or buried the rest. She ordered
all BW scientists from Al Salman and Al Hakam to sign a legal document
stipulating, under the threat of execution, a prohibition on speaking
to UN inspectors about the production of, or progress on, any BW agent.
- After that order, the person in charge of physical security at Al
Hakam witnessed Dr. Rihab remove about 20 to 25 electronic media disks
(floppy disks) from her office.
- In late 1991, Saddam Husayn’s Secretary, ‘Abd Hamid Mahmud Al Khatab
Al Tikriti, asked Husayn Kamil if Iraq would declare the BW program
to the UN. Husayn Kamil indicated that it would not be necessary and
the he would order the scientists to hide all evidence of the program
in their homes. Husayn Kamil arranged the collection of all documents
relating to WMD and directed the Special Security Organization (SSO)
to conceal them. This was to facilitate the reconstitution of WMD programs
after the UN departed. There is some uncertainty whether these documents
are the same as those handed to the UN in 1995 from Husayn Kamil’s chicken
also authorized Husayn Kamil to destroy, unilaterally, Iraq’s stocks of
BW agents. There were three distinct phases of destruction, including
clean up and sterilization of facilities including Al Salman, Al Hakam,
Al Manal and Al Safa’ah; destruction of munitions by TRC and Al Muthanna
personnel; and neutralization and dumping of bulk BW agent. According
to some accounts given by former Iraqi officials, the clean up of the
Al Hakam site began in May 1991. Other accounts give the order as sometime
in the summer of 1991. In any case, Dr. Rihab ordered MIC to sanitize
Al Hakam to destroy any traces of botulinum toxin and anthrax. The Al
Hakam site was sanitized, which entailed the sanitization of all surfaces,
drains, equipment and sewers using formalin, alcohol and potassium permanganate.
ISG, however, continues to harbor doubts regarding Iraq’s destruction
of bacterial reference strains and isolates. According to Dr.
Rihab, she destroyed these materials in early 1992, but ISG can verify
neither that the materials were destroyed nor the other details of Dr.
Rihab’s account. She maintains that she gave a small box containing no
more than 25 vials of lyophilized bacterial pathogens, including those
obtained from the American Type Culture Collection to the IIS in mid-1991
for safekeeping. Allegedly, Husam Muhammad Amin Al Yasin, who would eventually
become the director of the National Monitoring Directorate (NMD), returned
the box to her in early 1992. She also claimed that she asked former TRC
head Ahmad Murtada what to do with the vials. Murtada took the matter
to Husayn Kamil, who ordered the vials destroyed. Dr. Rihab claims she
did this by injecting the vials with Dettol™ and then autoclaving the
vials. According to UNSCOM data, all ATCC ampules were accounted for and
there should have been no remaining unopened vials from ATCC after the
first UNSCOM BW inspection.
ISG judges the Regime took these steps with the aim of restarting
the BW program in the future. In 1993, Husayn Kamil reportedly
announced in a speech to WMD scientists that Iraq’s WMD programs would
resume and expand when UN inspectors left. Al Hindawi recounted to ISG
a conversation he had with ‘Amir Al Sa’adi about the future of the BW
program following the first Gulf war. Al Sa’adi referred to Husayn Kamil’s
intent as “His Highness had a broad vision of the future.” Al Hindawi
interpreted this to mean that Husayn Kamil intended to reactivate the
Even as Baghdad took steps to hide its remaining BW infrastructure
and cover the traces of its previous program, the Regime sought to continue
a covert BW development effort under the cover of civilian research.
In April 1991, Dr. Rihab personally briefed Saddam Husayn on the plan
to convert Al Hakam for the production of biopesticide. In that same month,
MIC and Saddam Husayn decided to develop programs for SCP and biopesticide,
using Bt as the cover.
- Dr. Bilal told ISG, “Al Hakam was kept as potential for the BW program
in the future.” He described that they decided they must do everything
to preserve it and stated that the entire bio-insecticide and SCP effort
at Al Hakam was a “100% cover story” created by ‘Amir Rashid. Dr. Rihab
also stated that the intent to produce the SCP and bioinsecticide Bt
at Al Hakam was “to cover the equipment.”
ISG judges that in the wake of Desert Storm and destruction of
much of the BW effort, Iraq’s strategic objective was to give the appearance
of cooperating with UNSCOM while preserving the intellectual capital amassed
in prior years on BW.The Bt and SCP programs offered an effective
justification that allowed Iraq to keep the Al Hakam site with its extensive
equipment and skilled scientists in one place. Dr. Bilal related that
after they created the cover story for Al Hakam, an economic study of
Single Cell Protein (SCP) was conducted highlighting that Al Hakam’s production
capacity was only kilograms while Iraq’s calculated “legitimate” SCP need
was 70 tonnes per year.
- Nasr Al Hindawi advocated the development of SCP at Al Hakam. The
idea was endorsed because of his reputation in SCP production that was
expected to provide credibility for the program to outside observers.
Using SCP as an alternative feedstock, however, required very large
rates of annual production (hundreds of tonnes) as well as large quantities
of scarce methanol and ethanol for growth media.
- Dr. Rihab was not interested in SCP. The production of Bt pesticides
was a convenient cover. The assertion that Al Hakam had been involved
in biopesticide production before 1991 provided what they hoped to be
a plausible explanation that enabled Iraq to avoid declaring production
of anthrax. She enlisted the support of Dr. Jabbar Farhan ‘Abd-al-Razzaq
Al Ma’dhihi from the TABRC who had conducted research on Bt to assist
in the development of biopesticide production.
Ostensible biopesticide production at Al Hakam required both an expansion
of the facilities and collaboration with the IAEC’s TABRC. The cover story
did not fit the limited capabilities that resided at Al Hakam: the production
capacity of the plant was far too little to be convincing that it really
was for commercial SCP purposes. Realizing this, Baghdad began to expand
production capacity in 1993. Simultaneously, collaboration on biopesticide
production with experts from TABRC generated processes and capabilities
that would be directly relevant to any future Iraqi BW effort.
- Iraq expanded Al Hakam’s water and electricity utilities; a move ISG
assesses would have significantly expanded the site’s potential to support
planned biopesticide and SCP production, and also sought to transfer
to Al Hakam any and all usable equipment to support the proposed biopesticide
and SCP activity. For example, after UNSCOM’s first visit to Al Hakam
in September 1991, Al Hakam acquired a 1,500-liter fermentor and a dryer
from Al Muthanna in order to strengthen the cover story. Additionally,
Baghdad sought to acquire necessary equipment to pursue BW-related work
at Al Hakam. In 1995, for example, Iraq attempted to purchase two turnkey
50 cubic meter fermentor plants from a Russian Company that purportedly
had expertise in botulinum toxin production. Iraq negotiated a deal
with that Russian Company for equipment and assistance. A team of Iraqi
scientists and technicians traveled to Russia. The deal fell through
because the company did not receive an export license.
Collaboration with TABRC brought together groups of experts and
organizations whose work had direct bearing on future BW work.
Jabbar Al Ma’dhihi, Head of TABRC, for example was instrumental in designing
the process that resulted in reconfiguring Al Hakam to produce Bt bioinsecticide.
Dr. Al Ma’dhihi also developed a novel solution to Iraq’s need for BW
growth media. Unlike traditional bacterial growth media, Al Ma’dhihi’s
creation was cheap and of domestic origin—made from waste products from
food and agricultural processes. He noted that his media induced near
100% sporulation rates in Bt with little or no additional additives or
intensive monitoring of the fermentation process. In ISG’s view, this
media would probably be a suitable media for anthrax spore production.
Rihab, herself, has conceded that this media may support growth and sporulation
of anthrax and admitted that the use of this media would make monitoring
- Separately, Dr. Rihab described the purpose of her group’s research
into alternative media, which was to circumvent the effects of sanctions
imposed on Iraq after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Nasir Al Hindawi
worked on alternative media for Brucella. Mosul University, worked
on plants as a source of peptone media for anaerobic organisms. Some
of the plant media was purportedly suitable for growing pathogens such
as Clostridium botulinum. Rihab was angry that Mosul’s research
might attract UNSCOM attention.
A strategic objective from the earliest days of the BW program
was to produce dry agent. Dr. Rihab was aware that liquid agent
had a relatively short shelf life and this was demonstrated to her when
in 1991, she found that liquid BW agent recovered from bombs and bulk
storage containers “was ruined.” She therefore found the work at TABRC
on drying Bt by Dr. Al Ma’dhihi of great interest. Al Ma’dhihi was able
to dry Bt at bench-scale and was working toward pilot-scale levels. This
technology was directly applicable to drying anthrax although safety precautions
would have been necessary.
- Dr. Al Ma’dhihi used bentonite provided by Al Hakam. The particle
size was of 1 to 10 micrometers and Al Ma’dhihi realized that this was
too fine for agricultural work. However, such technology is applicable
Dr. Rihab was pleased with the biopesticide formulation Al Hakam produced.
Al Hakam produced approximately 40 tons of dry formulated product each
year from 1992 to 1996. In about 1994, Al Hakam slowed down the production
of Al Nasr in order to improve the formulation for the farmers. However,
there was disagreement among the developer, producers, and end-users on
the utility and use of the Al Hakam’s dry Bt product called Al Nasr (or
“Victory”). Farmers found it cumbersome to use, having to apply it by
hand one plant at a time; spraying the product as a liquid slurry by mixing
it with water was not successful. Al Hindawi stated, “The Bt produced
there was not very popular with the farmers and was not a profitable endeavor.”
The former minister of agriculture corroborated this view.
- Dr. Al Ma’dhihi, the developer of this product, explained that it
was intended to be used by sprinkling the dry material directly on to
plants. He commented that farmers did not like the product because the
powder was too fine; it aerosolized into a cloud when applied and did
not form an adequate residue on the plants.
- Those who produced Al Nasr, Dr. Rihab and Mr. Thamir ‘Abd-al-Rahman
thought otherwise on the use and value of the product. They both described
mixing the dry powder with water to form a slurry and spraying the product
using hand sprayers. They thought the product was well received.
ISG’s assessment is that whatever the intention of Iraq’s Bt drying
technology it was more applicable to BW than biopesticides.ISG
has learned more about the potential use of Iraq’s biopesticide program
for prohibited purposes from other sources.
- It was reported, but not confirmed, that researchers from the BW program
at Al Hakam used other organisms to model work with anthrax after 1991.
- The former chief anthrax technician stated to ISG that the Al Hakam
Bt fermentation line would fully support anthrax production. If virulent
anthrax isolates were available, it would take by his estimate, one
week to redirect the line to begin production of anthrax. He noted however
that attempting to dry anthrax using the Al Hakam equipment was highly
hazardous without respiratory protection or containment around the spray
In early 1995, UN inspectors confronted Iraq with evidence of imports
of bacterial growth media in quantities that had no civilian utility within
Iraq’s limited biotechnology industry, a step that ultimately led to the
unraveling of Iraq’s cover story regarding continuing BW-related activity.
On 1 July 1995, Iraq acknowledged that it used this growth media
to produce two BW agents in bulk, botulinum toxin, and Bacillus anthracis
spores, between 1988 and 1991. This precipitated Iraq into preparing a
Full Final and Complete Disclosure (FFCD). Iraq presented the draft
version in July 1995. A
final version followed on 4 August 1995, only to be declared void less
than two weeks later after Husayn Kamil fled to Jordan.
Most of what ISG knows about Iraq’s BW endeavors dates from the period
August 1995 to early 1996. After his departure officials denounced “the
traitor” Husayn Kamil and blamed him for Iraq’s failure to disclose the
BW program earlier. Tariq ‘Aziz claims he persuaded Saddam Husayn to make
a full disclosure of Iraq’s BW efforts to the UN. For a short while information
flowed freely and Iraq released a considerable quantity of documents on
its WMD programs in anticipation that this would lead to the lifting of
sanctions. (However, in the biological field there were only around 200
items, including notebooks, papers, receipts, photographs, videotapes
and journal reprints. For a program that had already lasted more than
20 years this was a modest collection.) As a consequence of the disclosures,
the UN supervised the destruction of Al Hakam and disablement of FMDV
in June 1996.
disclosures on its covert BW program almost certainly were tied to the
disintegration of the economy, which had hit rock-bottom by late 1995
as a result of UN-mandated economic sanctions. ISG judges that
Saddam was willing to risk an element of Iraq’s WMD program in a bid to
gain economic and sanctions relief. Getting out from under sanctions,
by this time, was an overarching Regime objective. BW research at the
time offered no real capability but nevertheless posed the risk of a potential
embarrassment that could only get in the way of sanctions relief.
- After a series of drafts, Iraq submitted a new “Full, Final and Complete
Declaration” (FFCD) on 22 June 1996. This initiated a series of UN inspections
to verify the details and resulted in another FFCD, submitted in September
1996, and a further FFCD in September 1997. Despite these revisions,
the new FFCDs did not supply any substantially new information and therefore
did not meet UN requirements. The UN was unable to verify the contents
of the documents in spite of two Technical Evaluation Meetings between
Iraq and the UN in March and April 1998, and July 1998.
Recovery and Transition 1996-2003
With the bulk of Iraq’s BW program in ruins, Iraq
after 1996 continued small-scale BW-related efforts with the only remaining
asset at Baghdad’s disposal— the know-how of the small band of BW scientists
and technicians who carried out further work under the auspices of the
Iraqi Intelligence Service. By 1996, the combination of the destruction
wrought during Desert Storm and the deliberate destruction of key BW facilities
and equipment under UNSCOM supervision left Iraq with few physical remnants
of its BW program. Numerous other dual-use biological facilities were
subject to routine UN monitoring.
- Many of the key scientists went to work for the NMD. Others pursued
advanced degrees in Iraq’s universities or went into the private sector;
or work at other government agencies, e.g., TABRC; while at least some
continued to conduct small-scale biological research and development
in disperse locations under the control of the IIS.
- ISG is uncertain what the function of the multiple IIS laboratories
was, and who the scientists were (see also CW section, Annex I). Some
of the work conducted there was probably a continuation of the work
at the Al Salman laboratories after their destruction in the Gulf war
in 1991 and that would include forensic related work. Other objectives
were probably to develop poisons for assassination or debilitation.
Whether any of the research was directly related to military development
of BW agents is uncertain; the nature of some of the reported work would
have had direct application to dissemination of ricin.
Dr. Rihab hypothesized to ISG that if a BW program had existed
in Iraq prior to OIF, it would probably have been conducted in secret
within the intelligence community.However, ISG’s inspection of
assorted equipment and sites has not uncovered evidence of either the
true nature of IIS laboratories or conclusive links between these laboratories
and Iraq’s BW effort. ISG notes, in any case, that the tactic of using
IIS and covert laboratories has historical precedence dating back to the
program’s origins in the 1970s, when the IIS provided the BW program with
security and participated in BW-related research. Reverting to this practice
would minimize the evidence available to inspectors. It would also leave
the known and acknowledged BW workers free to deal with the UN inspection
regime. However, it would require another cadre of scientists other than
ones known to the UN to conduct this kind of research. The discovery of
multiple IIS clandestine laboratories after OIF lends some credence to
- There is information that suggests that up to 5 IIS laboratories operated
in the greater Baghdad area at various times up until OIF.
- ISG found a possible DGS laboratory in Baghdad that contained a variety
of chemicals but no laboratory equipment. Residents in the building
alleged that the laboratory was a biological one. The investigating
team found several DGS administrative documents, some of which were
from employees requesting approval for danger pay for their hazardous
work with biological and radioactive materials.
- Information collected at the time of OIF led to the discovery of assorted
laboratory equipment purportedly used by a suspect BW scientist at a
Mosque in Baghdad.
- A clandestine laboratory was identified by an ISG team at the Baghdad
Central Public Health Laboratory in the summer of 2003. According to
an employee of the laboratory, the IIS operated a laboratory at that
location for several years. In advance of a 1998 UNSCOM inspection,
secret documents were removed and stored at the Director’s house. In
December of 2002, the laboratory was emptied of all equipment and documents.
- A former IIS chemist indicates this five-story building and adjacent
warehouse complex comprises the M16 training center at Djerf-al-Nadaf,
SE of Baghdad. A former member of the NMD reported this site as one
of the three IIS locations with equipment and activities intentionally
not declared to the UN. Neither UNSCOM nor UNMOVIC were aware of their
existence and had not visited these facilities. He believes the building
contained a biological laboratory for unspecified work. Site exploitation
revealed a modern building that probably housed both offices and at
least one laboratory on the first floor. The building was completely
looted, with very few remnants of equipment, materials, or documents.
Neighbors indicated that the IIS removed everything from the site just
before the war.
- According to a former mid-level BW scientist, Iraq conducted tests
on prisoners using aflatoxin in 1994 at an undeclared clandestine facility.
A former member of the NMD indicated he visited the facility in 1997
or 1998 to survey the equipment for possible declaration to the UN;
he was told on-site that none of the equipment or activities there would
- ISG also has evidence that, possibly as recently as 1994, an IIS chemist
who immigrated to Iraq from Egypt, Dr. Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Mun’im Al Azmirli
(now deceased), experimented on prisoners with ricin resulting in their
- In the chemical field, ISG learned that, in the 1970s, the former
IIS Directorate of Science and Technology, M9 (which later transformed
into M16) used this approach for research into lethal agents. The IIS
used a succession of four clandestine laboratories in At Taji and Baghdad
between 1996 and 2003 to research and develop chemicals. It also included
testing of chemicals on small animals like mice, rabbits and rats.
- Additional reporting, though unconfirmed, indicates that M16 also
conducted BW related research at two covert laboratories. In the early
1990s, Saddam tasked the IIS to do small-scale BW work in covert laboratories
concealed within legitimate facilities. Further unconfirmed reports
indicated the IIS conducted BW and CW experiments and stored WMD precursor
materials in residences and warehouses around Baghdad until at least
Research and Development
ISG judges that Iraq maintained the expertise and equipment necessary
for R&D of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins that could be used
as BW agents up until Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March 2003
- ISG assesses that Iraq’s bacterial and toxin BW agents were adequately
researched and developed at the advent of the first Gulf war in 1991,
and that Iraq had an extensive BW R&D program in the years prior
to that. By the time of Desert Storm, Iraq had weaponized Clostridium
botulinum (‘Agent A’), Bacillus anthracis (‘Agent B’) and
Aflatoxin (‘Agent C’) by filling liquid forms of these agents into munitions,
although these munitions were not the most effective or efficient for
Despite evidence of Iraq’s intent to develop more dangerous biological
agents after Desert Storm, ISG uncovered no indications that biological
agents were researched for BW purposes post-1991, even though Iraq maintained—and
in some cases improved—research capabilities that could have easily been
applied to BW agents. ISG’s investigations found no direct evidence
that the expertise or equipment were being used specifically for BW work.That
said, ISG judges thatfurther R&D on the agents weaponized pre-1991
was probably not required. Additional agents would have required extensive
R&D, in ISG’s judgement, butdespite concerns that surrounded the possible
addition of other, more pathogenic, agents into the viral BW program,
no evidence has been found by ISG.
- ISG conducted site visits and multiple interviews investigating Iraq’s
possible possession of smallpox and collected fragmentary and circumstantial
information. A definitive conclusion is impossible, but, based on the
available evidence, ISG concludes that Iraq intended to develop smallpox
and possibly other viral pathogens like CCHF as potential BW weapons.
In December 1990, Dr. Rihab informed Dr. Hazim ‘Ali that Husayn Kamil
wanted him to work on “more dangerous” viruses. According to a source,
Dr. Hazim ‘Ali was willing to work on other viral agents if Dr. Rihab
provided him with the materials. No additional materials were provided.
Iraq had the basic capability to work with variola major (smallpox)
and may have conducted some preliminary basic research. However, ISG
has found no conclusive evidence that Iraq retained or acquired any
stocks of smallpox or conducted advance R&D of pathogenic viruses.
ISG uncovered troubling information about post-1991 BW-related endeavours
that raise concerns about the legitimacy of Iraq’s activities and that
suggest to ISG Baghdad aimed at some future time to resume its BW program.
- In the1990s Iraq decided indigenously to research and produce nutrient
growth media that could be used to produce multiple strains of bacteria
to include B. anthracis, but no direct evidence has yet been
uncovered that this media was used to produce B. anthracis post-1991.
Dr. Rihab described to ISG her BW group’s research in developing indigenously
produced media to circumvent the effects sanctions imposed on Iraq after
the 1990 invasion. Research into alternative media for the growth of
Brucella was conducted following the introduction of the 1990
- Multiple sources have told ISG that the B. thuringiensis research
and production at Al Hakam from 1991 to 1996 was done to provide cover
for the equipment and capability at this facility. ISG has not been
provided with a good explanation as to why an advanced capability to
dry agent in a particle size too small for efficient biopesticide use
was established as well. ISG judges that this work advanced Iraq’s expertise
and knowledge in large-scale drying of B. anthracis even if the
agent itself was not produced and dried.
- ISG has found that up to five IIS laboratories operated in the greater
Baghdad area up until OIF. Additional reporting, though unconfirmed,
indicates that the M16 Division also conducted BW related research in
two covert laboratories. In the early 1990s, Saddam tasked the IIS to
do small-scale BW work in covert laboratories concealed within legitimate
facilities. Further unconfirmed reports indicated the IIS conducted
BW and CW experiments and stored WMD precursor materials in residences
and warehouse around Baghdad through April 2003. Information collected
at the time of OIF led to the discovery of assorted laboratory equipment
purportedly used by a suspect BW scientist on the Black List at a Mosque
in Baghdad. A clandestine laboratory was identified by an ISG team at
the Baghdad Central Public Health laboratory in the summer of 2003.
According to an employee of the laboratory, the IIS operated a laboratory
at that location for several years. In advance of a 1998 UNSCOM inspection,
secret documents were removed and stored at the Director’s house. In
December 2002, the laboratory was emptied of all equipment and documents.
Building Human Capital
Over the course of many years Iraq undertook concerted efforts
to create the cornerstone of a national BW program: a body of trained
scientists with the professional skill and experience needed to develop
and produce BW.Unlike nuclear and chemical weapons programs, which
require vast physical infrastructure, expensive equipment and substantial
financial resources, human capital is the essential element of a national
BW effort, for scientific research underpins all aspects of a developing
BW program. Iraq made the most of a limited pool of qualified personnel
to identify and develop the requisite cadre of skilled scientists and
- Trying to develop such a cadre for the BW as well as CW programs was
an integral part of the overall Al Hasan Ibn-al-Haytham Institute’s
goals. UN inspectors discovered that during the 1970s the Al Hasan Ibn-al-Haytham
Institute recruited the best and the brightest graduating students—from
the Universities of Baghdad, Colleges of Medicine, Science, and Veterinary
Medicine, and the University of Mustansiriyah, College of Medicine.
The Institute offered these students employment with incentives including
opportunities for travel abroad and further education. Students selected
for biology then attended a two-month training program at the University
of Baghdad, College of Veterinary Medicine, in “laboratory techniques
and procedures.” Some were selected for graduate studies abroad and
some for graduate studies at the University of Baghdad or the University
of Mustansiriyah, while others were given technician positions at the
ISG assesses that at some point after the revitalization of Iraq’s
BW program in the mid-1980s, a shift in priorities occurred in which Iraqi
BW personnel were selected for participation in the program more for their
loyalty and dependability than for their technical skills, an
approach that distorted the entire higher educational process and frequently
ensured that the “best and the brightest” were replaced by the loyal and
- A senior Iraqi scientist described to ISG a practice that began in
the early 1990s and continued until 2002 as a possible Husayn Kamil
initiative. This initiative reportedly named Al Mumtazin, or
“the distinguished,” involved nominating candidates for post-graduate
education based on their loyalty to the Regime, institution or superior
rather than their technical competence. These “distinguished” candidates
reportedly had lesser grades and were generally older than published
requirements, according to an ISG interview with a senior Iraqi scientist.
- In a possible bid to counter the corrosive effect of selecting personnel
for political and professional reasons, in the mid 1980s, Iraq established
a mentoring process through which to conduct investigations into possible
BW related bacteria and toxins. This system, used throughout the BW
program, utilized compartmented small clusters headed by a senior scientist
who had extensive research experience or a senior technician with extensive
experience with either the agent or a class of bacteria of interest
according to multiple sources who participated in the former program.
Iraq’s R&D to develop BW started in 1974 at the Al Hasan Ibn-al-Haytham
Institute. Initially the BW effort was located in a house in the Al ‘Amiriyah
suburb of Baghdad, and then moved to Al Hasan site number 2, also known
as the Ibn-Sina Center, at Al Salman. The biological part of the Al Hasan
program was “research on microorganism for military purposes.” It included
antibiotic and environmental resistance, means of production, and agent
preservation. Agents included Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus species,
Vibrio cholerae, botulinum toxin, influenza and polio viruses,
and others. Although the militarily relevant piece of the Al Hasan biological
program seems to have entered a hiatus with the closure of the Institute,
biological activities, not specifically directed toward BW weapons continued
unabated at the Al Salman site.
In the formative phases of the BW program, the Ibn-Sina Center was the
primary center for BW R&D. Some BW R&D continued unabated at Ibn-Sina
Center, which began to broaden in 1984. When Iraq revitalized the militarily
relevant BW program in the mid-1980s, Al Muthanna was the primary site
until 1987 when the program again moved to the Ibn-Sina Center. However,
Al Muthanna continued with specific R&D participation such as that
with ricin and aflatoxin on behalf of Al Salman. R&D continued at
the Ibn-Sina Center until mid to late 1990 even after much of the BW program
moved to the newly established Al Hakam facility in 1988.
In 1990, with the compulsory acquisition of the Al Dawrah FMDV Plant
and the Agriculture Water Resource Center (AWRC) facility and R&D
and production of aflatoxin moved to the AWRC. In addition, BW-applicable
R&D was conducted during the 1980s at TABRC. Al Hakam continued to
be a key BW-related R&D facility until 1996, when it was destroyed
under UNSCOM supervision. Additionally, Al Hamath, TABRC, and the Tariq
Facility (Fallujah III) were also key sites during this period (for more
complete information on Iraq’s R&D facilities and ISG’s exploitations,
see Annex B on BW Research and Development).
Iraqi BW Agent Research
Iraq’s efforts to develop BW agents were extensive, and in the
years leading up to the first Gulf war Baghdad investigated a wide range
of biological agents with potential military applications. ISG
investigated the extent of Iraq’s research prior to the war, and assessed
the degree to which Baghdad pursued development of these agents in the
aftermath of Desert Storm.
Bacillus anthracis (‘Agent B’)
Baghdad invested considerable time and effort prior to 1991 in the
development of anthrax as a biological weapon. ISG assesses that the effort
ended with Desert Storm. However, studies of simulants aided the quality
of any future anthrax products.
R&D on growing the anthrax organism and inducing sporulation was
initiated at Al Hasan site number 2, but the work was terminated at the
end of 1978. The R&D was reinitiated in 1985 at Al Muthanna. Although
denied by Dr. Rihab, the studies may have picked up where the Al Hasan
studies left off, and work progressed rapidly and included laboratory
production, characterization and storage.
- After the transfer of the BW effort from Al Muthanna to Al Salman,
scale up production and aerosol studies (dry and liquid) were conducted.
A continued interest in obtaining a suitable dry product and the efforts
expended to acquire a suitable drying capability continued at Al Salman
and later at Al Hakam.
- Iraq obtained two capable dryers that were air-freighted into Baghdad
in 1989. One of these dryers was located at Al Hakam in 1991. Iraq also
tried to obtain an “aseptic” spray dryer (identical to those air-freighted
to Baghdad, but with additional biological containment capabilities)
in 1990. This dryer was not delivered by the supplier.
- Static tests (using simulants for B anthracis spores) were
conducted in March 1988 in LD250 aerial bombs. Dynamic and static trials
using 122 mm rocket warheads filled with simulant were conducted in
1989 and 1990. Trials were then conducted in August 1990 using R-400
aerial bombs, again filled with anthrax simulant.
ISG continued to gain more insight into B. anthracis work done
before 1991, which reinforced the findings of UNSCOM detailed below. However,
no new information has been obtained on B. anthracis-specific R&D
conducted after the 1996 destruction of Al Hakam.
- Thamir ‘Abd-al-Rahman, a key figure in Iraq’s anthrax work pre-1991,
told ISG that he attempted to obtain the Ames strain of B. anthracis
which he considered “very virulent” while attending a scientific workshop
in 1989, but he was unsuccessful in that endeavor. Iraq declared researching
different strains of B. anthracis, but settled on the American
Type Culture Collection (ATCC) strain 14578 as the exclusive strain
for use as a BW.
- Prior to work on the pathogenic strains of B. anthracis, Dr.
Rihab directed the scientists to use surrogates in their early and more
advanced stages of R&D and production. Accordingly, experiments
were done with surrogates, B. thuringiensis, Bacillus subtilis
and Bacillus megaterium, in order to determine appropriate growth
conditions. Her logic was in part for safety. She wanted to permit the
researcher to familiarize and learn procedures with a nonpathogenic
organism before attempting to use pathogenic ones. These bacillus strains
were used to simulate work on B. anthracis by researchers at
Al Hakam after 1991. A similar practice apparently was followed 1985-1990.
Laboratory-scale work was done with the B. thuringiensisIsraeliensis
strain at Al Hakam to determine optimized growth conditions. The main
work, and ultimate production, of B. thuringiensis was conducted
utilizing the Kurstakii strain. B. megaterium was researched
at Al Salman in 1987-1988 as a model for B. anthracis using a
- One large field experiment was also planned and, according to the
source, the experiment involved spreading of the bacteria by an airplane.
ISG found no further information on this experiment. The information
provided by the source confirms existing knowledge about Iraq’s use
of B. thuringiensis, B. subtilis and B. megaterium
as simulants for B. anthracis. However, as this is information
that comes from a single source, ISG is unable to confirm the veracity
of the claim of continued research into B. anthracis at Al Hakam
following the 1991 Gulf war.
- ISG found information that indicated that research into anthrax vaccines
was conducted at the Abu Ghurayb Veterinary College (Baghdad University,
College of Veterinary Medicine). Unfortunately, ISG was not able to
obtain further information as to what this research involved or what
vaccine strain was utilized.
Clostridium botulinum (Botulinum toxin, ‘Agent A’)
ISG has uncovered no further information to suggest that Iraq actively
continued to research and produce C. botulinum for use as a BW weapon
following the 1991 Gulf war.
R&D on botulinum toxin was an integral part of the Al Hasan site
number 2. Efforts appeared to be modest but were focused on growth conditions
for maximizing toxin yield. This effort was terminated at the end of 1978
when Al Hasan was dissolved.
Tests then were re-established when the militarily relevant BW program
was revitalized in 1985 at Al Muthanna. Seemingly, building on the knowledge
gained by the Al Hasan effort, rapid progress was made. By early 1987,
before the program was moved to Al Salman, inhalation studies on botulinum
toxin were conducted in the 5m3 inhalation chamber at Al Muthanna.
At Al Salman, studies progressed to where field trials on the dispersal
of liquid botulinum toxin using LD-250 aerial bombs were conducted in
March 1988. After the move to Al Hakam in 1988, with its larger agent
production capability, static (November 1989) and dynamic (May 1990) trials
were conducted using 122 mm rocket warheads at the Al Muhammadiyat test
range. R-400 aerial bombs were also tested in August 1990 as were the
effects of metals (simulating the interior of munitions) on the agent.
Clostridium perfringens (‘Agent G’)
No information was discovered to suggest that BW-related research
into C. perfringens continued after the 1991 Gulf war. Following
the end of OIF, ISG obtained information relating to C. perfringens
that essentially confirmed previous UNSCOM findings regarding Iraq’s work
on this bacteriium as a BW agent.
- In late April 1988, Dr. Rihab initiated research on C. perfringens,
known as ‘Agent G’, to facilitate its use as a BW agent. The development
of ‘Agent G’ occurred at the Technical Research Center (TRC), Al Salman,
and was directed by ‘Ali Shihab during the late 1980s. Dr. Rihab instructed
the researchers to investigate the various strains and identify the
most effective for use as a large-scale BW agent. According to a source,
the intent of the research was to disseminate C. perfringens
- The initial stage of the C. perfringens project focused on
identifying a medium in which to optimize growth. Researchers procured
Duncan and Strong growth media and modified the salt and nutrient levels.
This initial research on media and isolates occurred in the beginning
of 1990. The second phase of the research focused on bench scale production
of ‘Agent G spores’, with the first successful production of C. perfringens
spores in March 1990.
- As part of the second phase of research, the research protocol called
for animal testing to be conducted quarterly and the results forwarded
via an official report to Dr. Rihab. ISG has two accounts for the testing
that occurred. One source describes research conducted in a small aerosol
chamber on rabbits and mice attempting to inoculate abraded skin in
these experimental animals. The results obtained through these experiments
left the test animals with lesions typical of C. perfringens
infection. The second account also involves the use of an inhalation
chamber to aerosolize spores and infect the laboratory animals but after
autopsies were performed, researchers concluded that aerosolized spores
may not be effective as a BW agent. They then began injecting ‘Agent
G’ via syringe and this resulted in successful tests using guinea pigs
and mice. The animals developed Gas Gangrene infections at the wound
sites and eventually died. Results from the successful tests were reported
to Dr. Rihab in April 1990, who instructed the researchers to move the
production of ‘Agent G’ to a larger scale.
Aflatoxin (‘Agent C’)
R&D on aflatoxin began in May 1988 based on previous nonmilitary
work on aflatoxin by Dr. Imad. Good progress was made which led to an
initial weapons test in November 1989, consisting of static trials with
122 mm rocket warheads. Additional testing involved combining aflatoxin
with CS and CN incapacitating agents as well as mustard CW agent. Studies
included potency retention under conditions and temperature of deployment
as well as effect of metals on the agent. This was followed by dynamic
testing trials in May 1990. However, R-400 aerial bombs and Al Husayn
missile warheads were munitions selected for BW weaponization in late
In 1992, an individual at the Central Public Health Laboratory—who worked
for the SSO and was responsible for checking Saddam’s food for contamination—denied
having an aflatoxin standard, according to a source with direct access
but of unknown reliability. According to the same source, the former director
of CPHL had been involved in offensive aflatoxin research until at least
Debriefings since April 2003 of sources formerly involved with BW efforts
indicate that Iraq at least continued research on aflatoxin throughout
the 1990s. In 1994, a DGS forensics laboratory produced 150 ml of aflatoxin
for testing on humans, according to a mid-level scientist who formerly
worked in the BW program and visited the site.
Dr. Rihab supported inclusion of brucella in Iraq’s BW program
and actively supported pre-Desert Storm research to that end. That initiative,
however, appears to have ended in the wake of the first Gulf war.
According to a source, Dr. Rihab wanted to add Brucella to the
list of BW agents. According to a former mid-level scientist who worked
at several Iraqi BW program locations, he conducted research on Brucella
at Al Hakam prior to Desert Storm and later at Baghdad University until
1992 using imported strains and patient isolates, respectively, according
to the scientist. The research included isolating bacterium, growing it
in culture, extracting and purifying its toxins, and testing the toxin
on mice. Although this research was not declared to UNSCOM, the scientist
stated that his thesis was open.
- Rihab and Ahmad Murtada, the Director General of the former TRC, recommended
that the scientist conduct the research as part of graduate degree on
Brucella at Baghdad University under the direction of Alice Krikor
Agap Melkonian. Before the war, the researcher conducted laboratory
work at Al Hakam and course work at the university. Rihab provided the
Brucella abortus isolate the researcher used at Hakam but it
was not from the B. abortus isolates obtained by Rihab from American
Type Culture Collection: none of these had been opened. The scientist
stopped research on Brucella during the war but resumed his work
after that at the university, working on isolates from a hospital patient.
According to the mid-level scientist, the Brucella work was not
secret and his thesis about the work was not classified.
- In 1991, after the war, work on Brucella restarted at the College
of Science with an isolate from a patient at the Ibn-al-Khatib Hospital
and was coordinated through the Ministry of Health. During the project,
Brucella was isolated and grown. The researcher extracted and
purified the endotoxin, tested it on mice and determined the toxin was
not as effective as Shiga toxin, ricin or botulinum. Rihab received
a copy of the researcher’s report and work on Brucella was supposed
to start on the person’s return to Al Hakam but it was put on hold by
Dr. Rihab in 1992 to focus on research and production of B. thuringiensis.
- Research on Brucella was also conducted at the Abu Ghurayb
Veterinary College, but ISG has no information on the extent of this
- Research into alternative media for the growth of Brucella
was conducted following the introduction of the 1990 UN sanctions. This
research was carried out by ‘Ali Shihab. ISG found no information to
indicate the timescale of research, the results or whether the research
- After the establishment of the Al Razi Center in 1992, the Microbiology
department, directed by Dr. Antoine Al Bana, carried out research into
diagnostic kits for Brucella. The facility was visited by the
ISG BW team who discovered Brucella bacterial isolates obtained
from Al ‘Amiriyah Serum and Vaccine Institute (ASVI) (see Figure
3). The strains found were B. abortus and B. melitensis.
Although, pre-OIF, the facility had maintained the capability to conduct
successful BW-related R&D on Brucella, there were no indications
that this had occurred.
The evidence surrounding Iraq’s investigation of ricin for BW purposes
is unclear, and thus ISG can offer no definitive conclusion. It is clear
that Baghdad had weaponized ricin in at least a limited fashion prior
to the first Gulf war. There is at least some evidence of post-war IIS
involvement in ricin research and possible human testing, but ISG developed
no definitive information with which to confirm reports of post-war production.
Iraq’s R&D on ricin had its origin in the mid 1980s at the Scientific
Research Center (SRC). In 1988/89 active collaboration was sought from
personnel at Al Salman. The research proceeded apace with initial field
trials using 155 mm shells in Nov 1990. The work at the SRC was initiated
at the behest of an official with the Internal Security Service who followed
the efforts through the field trial (see Figure
ISG conducted a focused investigation into Iraqi work with ricin—a toxin
derived from castor beans (Ricinus communis) of the indigenous
Iraqi R. communis plants. The search to date has yielded conflicting
information about the use of castor beans and continued ricin work after
ISG is aware from UNSCOM reporting that Iraq conducted limited weaponization
of ricin prior to Desert Storm and that it conducted partially successful
field trials with ricin. Based on this, ISG focused on two main themes:
(1) part of the Al Tariq Facility—also known as Fallujah II—for castor
oil production, and (2) the reported IIS work with the toxin. While ISG
has not been able to find direct evidence of recent ricin production,
several sources have provided information that suggest that work on ricin
toxin continued well past 1992, possibly until the beginning of OIF.
The ISG team examined in detail the Al Tariq Facility and a site that
supplied Al Tariq with castor beans—the Al ‘Aziziyah farms. The team debriefed
a number of scientists and engineers employed at Al Tariq and a group
of farmers from Al ‘Aziziyah, obtaining from each group a very different
picture about work at Al Tariq and the intended use of the castor beans.
Al Tariq staff employees maintained that castor beans were used exclusively
for the processing of castor oil for the brake fluid and tire production
industries. They also admitted contemplating the use of castor oil as
an anti-foaming agent in the yeast industry. When prompted with a few
more specifics, one Al Tariq employee explained away the activity as being
pharmaceutical-related. Another shipment of castor beans, for a university,
remains to be explained. For more information on this facility, see Annex
ISG has investigated claims by former IIS officials—a former IIS
chemist and his former supervisor, the late Dr. Al Azmirli—that the IIS
produced ricin until at least 1995 and possibly until 2003, although ISG
has not yet obtained direct evidence of ricin work.
- Interviews with Dr. Al Azmirli—a former IIS official and scientific
advisor to Saddam—revealed that the IIS researched ricin as a BW agent
until 2003. He himself was directly involved with ricin work until 1992,
when Husayn Kamil demanded the program be turned over to Dr. Rihab and
a doctor from the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Dr. Al Azmirli claimed that between 1992 and 1996, ricin was being
produced at Al Shameir Hospital in Al Rashad until it was transferred
to Al Hakam. A separate former IIS official confirmed that Al Azmirli
produced approximately two kilograms of ricin at the Ar Rashidiyah plant
in 1991 and 1992. An exploitation of the Ar Rashidiyah plant corroborated
the location and presence of a facility, but ISG could not confirm that
ricin work had occurred there because of extensive looting.
- Mun’im Mustafa Fatahi, a close friend of Dr. Al Azmirli, reportedly
told Al Azmirli that a group of people was actively pursuing ricin for
weaponization. As of March 2003, ricin was being developed into stable
liquid to deliver as an aerosol in small rockets, cluster bombs, and
smoke generators, according to Al Azmirli.
- Documents obtained from Dr. Al Azmirli’s residence included an MSc
thesis on the topic of ricin written by ‘Adnan Jasim from Baghdad University.
ISG has investigated claims from several sources that work on ricin
toxin continued well past 1992, possibly until the beginning of OIF.
The information that ISG obtained on the potential role of ricin in Iraq’s
BW program post 1991 has primarily been based on single source reporting
of unclear veracity.
- The IIS was involved in the research and limited production of ricin
for the development of a BW weapon. A source stated that ‘Adnan Abd-al-Rasa’il
Al ‘Ubaydi was responsible for all research related to ricin conducted
by the IIS. In 1992, ‘Adnanroduced a few milligrams of ricin. The IIS
was then ordered not to continue with the ricin project because Husayn
Kamil wanted the project. The source stated that all research and production
processes were turned over to Dr. Rihab and a doctor from the Ministry
of Agriculture. A group in Al Hakam was then involved in ricin production
- According to a single source, the MIC maintained fields of castor
plants in the Al ‘Aziziyah area for sale to the Al Tariq Company. According
to a source, the castor beans harvested from these crops were allegedly
used to make brake fluid and “chemical weapons.” When asked if the “chemical
weapons” were possibly insecticides or pesticides, the source stated
that the “chemical weapons” were used against humans. As the product
of a single source, this information is hard to verify.
- During the approximate period of 1994 or 1995, Husayn Kamil, then
Head of MIC, gave an order to confiscate farmland that belonged to the
source in the area of Al ‘Aziziyah. By Husayn Kamil’s order, castor
plants were to be planted on the acquired land and the MIC remained
responsible for delivering the beans for each year’s planting. The source
also reported that a castor crop was planted every year within different
farming areas in the vicinity of the Al ‘Aziziyah. To hide the fact
that MIC possessed dedicated castor fields, a cover story was developed
between MIC and the Ministry of Agriculture or Ministry for Industrial
Crops. Wheat, corn and cotton were subsequently planted in the vicinity
of the castor crops, as a “cover crop.” The Ministry of Agriculture
maintained a cover for the MIC in the area of Al ‘Aziziyah with offices
for project managers. The same source indicated that the cover story
was used to deceive UN inspectors.
- All the castor beans grown at this location were delivered to the
Al Tariq facility. According to the source no payment was ever made
for the castor beans. The only payment that occurred for the overall
transaction was to the farmers who worked in the fields. There were
various project managers who handled paying the farmers, who were on
the payroll of the Tariq facility and ultimately MIC. The castor crops
were planted in approximately February and March, and harvested annually
in September. Each harvest yielded approximately 250 to 300kg of castor
beans. The Al Tariq facility would normally send four or five trucks
to the Al ‘Aziziyah warehouse to take delivery of the castor beans.
- During an exploitation of the TABRC facility, the team discovered
a piece of equipment they determined was associated with de-hulling
of castor beans (see Figure 5). The
exploitation team also discovered a 100-ton press containing an oily
residue and took a sample of this material. This material returned a
positive test for ricin. Although a positive result was obtained this
discovery does not indicate on its own any illicit activity on behalf
of the facility, as any step in the production of castor oil will return
a positive test for ricin. The scale of the equipment was small and
no reason was provided as to the purpose of the machinery.
ISG investigated a laboratory at the Al ‘Abud Trading Complex, Baghdad.
Evidence of ricin was found in samples collected, both by field analysis
and at ISG laboratory assays.
- Based on the materials, equipment, and manual found at the site, ISG
judged the complex did not appear to be related to the Regime’s chemical,
or biological weapons programs. Rather, it appears to be an extremist-run
laboratory with equipment and reagents that at a minimum could be used
to produce ricin. Biological growth mediums and chemical precursors
(triethanolamine) were also found in the laboratory.
Wheat Cover Smut (‘Agent D’)
R&D on wheat cover smut (bunt of wheat) was initiated in 1984 at
the Al Salman site. After the BW militarily relevant program was moved
from Al Muthanna to Al Salman, the wheat cover smut project was merged
into a fungi and fungal toxin group within Dr. Rihab’s group. Smut spores
were tested in static field trials in late 1989. Tests to evaluate smut
spores as a carrier for aflatoxin were also part of the program. No additional
information has been found by ISG related to Iraq’s interest in and work
on smut spores.
Prior to the first Gulf war Iraq pursued a range of viral agents
as part of its BW program. ISGhas uncovered no direct evidence to indicate
a renewed interest or organized program to re-establish an Iraqi viral
BW program andjudges that Baghdad’s viral BW effort ended in 1991.
Researchers involved in Iraq’s 1970s BW research at the Al Hasan Institute
reportedly attempted to develop influenza virus as a BW agent and were
also conducting R&D on polioviruses. There were two virologists in
the original group; one was a US trained veterinarian Dr. Muzhir Al Falluji,
who had training and experience in animal orthopox (smallpox like) viruses;
the other was Dr. Muslih Al Muslih (the 3rd Director of Ibn-Sina Center)
who worked on poliovirus. Dr. Al Falluji taught several classes at the
College of Veterinary Medicine. The Al Hasan Institute was closed in 1979
and along with it, the viral programs.
Iraq’s viral BW program began its research and development (R& D)
phases in July 1990 under the direction of Dr. Hazim ‘Ali. This was the
second known attempt by Iraq to conduct BW viral research. From 1973 until
1978, The Ibn-Sina Center of the Al Hasan Ibn-al-Haytham Research Foundation
conducted research at its Al Salman site.
Iraq subsequently revived its BW programme in the mid 1980s. The revival
of the Iraqi viral BW program began in early to mid 1990 when Dr. Hazim
‘Ali was chosen to lead the effort. Iraq’s pursuit of viral BW began over
4 years after the initiation of its research for bacterial and fungal
According to Hazim ‘Ali, the viral BW program ended on 17 January 1991.
This information is consistent with an English-language document titled
“Viral Agents Program” obtained through the investigations of ISG, which
states that work on the viral program began on 1 December 1990 and was
cancelled on 17 January 1991, when all specimens were destroyed. This
is in contrast to information provided to UNSCOM that included laboratory
notebooks and ISG information stating that Dr. Hazim ‘Ali isolated and
began growing camelpox in October 1990.
Because of pre-OIF intelligence assessments about Iraq’s possible possession
of smallpox, ISG conducted extensive investigations that included site
visits and multiple interviews to determine the validity of this assessment.
ISG has collected fragmentary and circumstantial information that provides
no definitive conclusions, either way on this issue.
- ISG has collected information from credible sources from the pre-1991
program demonstrating Iraq’s interest and intent in developing pathogenic
viruses specifically smallpox.
- Further, ISG assesses that Iraq maintained the capability in its personnel
and basic equipment to conduct R&D into viral agents including smallpox.
- Finally coinciding with the 1991 Gulf war, Iraq intended to develop
a production base to support pathogenic viral production.
Iraq’s interest in camel pox and its inclusion in the viral BW
program have led ISG to assess that camel pox R&D was a surrogate
for smallpox research, analogous to the use of nonpathogenic Bacillus
species and Bacillus anthracis.
According to Hazim ‘Ali, researchers in Iraq’s BW program followed the
practice of working with particularly pathogenic micro-organismssurrogates
to facilitate transition to the actual pathogens. This approach permitted
the researcher to familiarize and learn techniques, procedures and processes
to increase the safety margin for the researcher and technicians.
- In Dr. Rihab’s own words, Hazim’s decision to work with camel pox
was because “it was near to smallpox.” When directly questioned about
the possibility of smallpox in Iraq, she misspoke on 3 occasions saying
“there is no camel pox in Iraq.”
- Camel pox was one of the three viruses chosen for the viral BW program
by Hazim ‘Ali. According to Hazim, no experiments were conducted to
determine the effectiveness of camel pox on humans. His decision to
develop camel pox was based on his research of citations from standard
microbiology and microbial infection textbooks. His recollection was
that camel pox causes rare cases of human infection but these were not
severe. Dr. Hazim’s rationale for the utility of camel pox as a possible
BW pathogen remains inconsistent with current and historical published
scientific and medical knowledge.
ISG has no information to contradict his statements that his research
only succeeded in initial isolation of camel pox from a clinical specimen
obtained from the Veterinary Diagnostic Research Center in Abu Ghurayb.
The camel pox sample (scab) was not available immediately but by the
end of October 1990, Hazim ‘Ali obtained a sample and successfully isolated
the virus in chicken eggs. Chicken eggs were inoculated with the camel
pox and the results were promising with some characteristic lesions (white
pox marks) appearing on the chorioallontoic membrane of the chicken egg.
These lesions on the chorioallontoic membrane of a ten-day old chicken
embryo were characteristic of infections described in textbooks.
Hazim claims he cannot remember if animal testing occurred. The source
stated that a pilot experiment should have been conducted with the isolate
to assess for activity in an animal; rabbits are particularly susceptible
to camel pox. However, he could not remember an actual test of the viral
isolate on rabbits due to the critical time in which the test would have
occurred; the 1991 Gulf war. Hazim does not believe that anyone else could
have carried out this experiment in his absence or without his knowledge.
Hazim investigated existing facilities in Iraq for scaling-up the production
of camel pox if and when that was possible or necessary. He decided on
using the chorioallontoic membrane method of viral egg production. Although
denying a plan for large-scale production, he inspected the Veterinary
Service Center in Irbil. It was used in the production of animal vaccines
for Newcastle disease and fowlpox. The Irbil facility had a moderate scale
egg production capability but according to Hazim an untrained staff. The
large size of the facility required was explained due to the fact that
the amount of virus obtained through this method would only average 5
mg of tissue.
This facility was autonomous to the Iraqi Government and an order to
commandeer the plant for Hazim’s activity was signed by the Minister of
Agriculture. However, the order was never implemented.
Dr. Hazim ‘Ali’s performance in leading and conducting Iraq’s fledgling
viral BW research, based on comments by his colleagues, was underwhelming.
Rihab described him as “not a man to work by himself.” Dr. Nasir Al Hindawi
commented that Hazim ‘Ali did not produce a single virus.
ISG concludes that Iraq had a pre-1991 intent to develop smallpox
as a strategic viral BW agent and had the basic capability to work with
variola major (smallpox). However, ISG has collected no direct evidence
that Iraq either retained or acquired smallpox virus isolates or proceeded
with any follow up smallpox related research. ISG assesses, however, that
Iraq did have the capability to conduct research into smallpox, if not
in a manner up to Western BL-4 containment standards. Iraq possessed facilities
such as the Al Dawrah Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Plant and Al Razi
Center had equipment that could potentially be used to work on high-risk
agents such as smallpox.
Prior to OIF, the US intelligence community assessed that Iraq probably
retained samples of the smallpox virus and may have been researching it
for BW purposes. It was also stated that it had no information indicating
whether such work was ongoing. Despite the limited information gained
by the UN and a claim by a senior player in the CBW program that the intent
of the viral BW program was to weaponize smallpox, the additional information
uncovered by ISG has not provided evidence of an R&D effort to weaponize
- According to Dr. Mahmud Farraj Bilal Al Sammarai, a senior official
involved in the weaponization and testing of CBW agents, the aim of
the viral BW program was intended for the weaponization of smallpox.
He states that Dr. Hazim ‘Ali started with Camel pox since it was easier
to work with for development, but ultimately the program was intended
to progress to smallpox. Dr. Bilal did not know for a fact that samples
of smallpox existed within Iraq but stated that ‘Ali might obtain them
from the Baghdad Central Public Health Laboratory or collections at
the Al ‘Amiriyah Serum and Vaccine Institute (ASVI). Dr. ‘Ali Mukhlif,
Dr. Hazim ‘Ali’s sponsor to work with the TRC, told Bilal the intention
of the program and Hazim’s activities during a meeting at Al Muthanna
- During investigations conducted by ISG and earlier by UNSCOM, Dr.
Hazim ‘Ali occasionally referred to “smallpox” when questioned about
their research and quickly retracted the statement to say “camel pox.”
The source was unable to provide an explanation as to why he repeatedly
made this mistake. This type of mistake added to the confusion surrounding
Iraq’s possible R&D efforts on smallpox. Hazim stated that he would
not be surprised if smallpox isolates were found in Iraq and identified
two culture repositories where viral cultures could be maintained over
extended periods of time: Al Dawrah FMDV Plant and the Baghdad CPHL.
None were found by ISG. However, the CPHL seed stock repository was
reported to have been systemically looted post-OIF (see below, under
“Feasibility of Maintaining Smallpox Cultures from 1972) and the Al
Dawrah FMDV Plant was effectively shut down and electricity turned off
after it was rendered unusable in 1996.
Contrary to comments made by Dr. Al Hindawi that there were no virologists
in Iraq, ISG identified and interviewed close to a dozen, mostly US and
UK trained, highly capable PhD virologists. Several had experience with
orthopox (smallpox like) viral research experience mostly with animal
related pox viruses. One actually performed genetic engineering research
on animal pox viruses attempting to develop a recombinant animal vaccine.
A couple had experience working with the smallpox vaccine strain (vaccinia).
However, none of Iraq’s “best and brightest” virologists were assessed
directly involved in Iraq’s BW efforts. After extensive interviews, none
could provide direct information concerning the existence of historical
or recent smallpox isolates or research. (See the accompanying textbox
on reported Iraqi retention of smallpox isolates.)
Iraqi Retention of Smallpox Cultures
ISG cannot be certain whether or not Iraq had smallpox seed stock
to OIF. ISG investigated Iraq’s technical and practical
capabilities to maintain viral or clinical smallpox isolates from the
early 1970s in Iraq. Interviewing a number of senior Iraqi scientists
and virologists ISG could make no definitive conclusions. ISG notes
the stated intent of Husayn Kamil in 1990 to develop more virulent viruses
as part of the BW program. While Hazim did not accomplish this objective,
ISG cannot rule out the possibility that other, yet unidentified, researchers
were given the responsibility to attempt to do so.
In 1978, Ministry of Health (MoH) reported to the World Health Organization
that no smallpox cases had occurred in Iraq since an outbreak in 1972,
and attested in writing that all remaining smallpox cultures and clinical
specimens were destroyed in 1978. There was, however, no independent
verification of the destruction of smallpox isolates or clinical specimens
that may have been retained by either clinical or research institutes,
and subsequent reporting on the subject is contradictory:
- One source ISG interviewed was an advisor to the Iraqi Minister
of Health between 1980 and 1982. He stated that he was “90% certain”
that Saddam did not destroy the last smallpox samples.
- Contrarily, Rihab stated categorically that no isolates of any
kind were inherited by her from the original 1970s BW effort.
- According to a senior Iraq scientist at Al ‘Amiriyah Serum and
Vaccine Institute, he was ordered by MoH urgently to produce 3.5 million
doses of smallpox vaccine in 1980. This source was the principal responsible
scientist involved in this effort. By his accounts, the Iraqi MoH
attempted to procure smallpox vaccine seed stocks from the World Health
Organization (WHO) in 1980 for this effort. The WHO refused Iraq’s
request citing the recent success in the eradication program.
- Intelligence reports dating back to 1994 suggest that Iraq may
have obtained smallpox cultures from the former Soviet Union (FSU)
in 1992. A biologist who had indirect access to this information stated
that Iraq acquired isolates of smallpox from Russia in 1992. He went
on to describe an effort to develop smallpox for the BW program from
1992 to 1994. He described efforts to grow the virus in both eggs
and tissue culture. This effort reportedly failed and the viral cultures
were maintained at the CPHL. The subject biologist is no longer in
ISG has collected no information with which to conclusively refute
or confirm the existence of smallpox isolates retained by Iraq from
the period when the disease was still endemic, but if they were retained
they would have been a potentially serious threat in the context of
a renewed BW program.
- ISG assesses such viral cultures could remain viable for extended
periods of time depending on the nature of the isolate, facility conditions
and the overseeing scientist. Clinical smallpox specimens would be
less likely to survive long-term storage unless they were held in
liquid nitrogen. Frozen lyophilized smallpox isolates could, on the
other hand, have an extended shelf life and probably remain viable
for decades. Several institutes in Iraq had nitrogen freezer storage
- ISG did learn that as late as 1992, Iraq was assessing the viability
of smallpox vaccine it produced in the 1980s. A scientist who was
involved in the production of the smallpox vaccine in the 1980s was
asked to test samples presumably from that stockpile. The vaccine
was found nonviable. At that time, he recommended that all remaining
vials of that vaccine be destroyed. He does not know if that recommendation
was followed. Separately, ISG learned from Dr. Hazim ‘Ali that a researcher
at the Baghdad University Medical College was actually producing smallpox
vaccine in 1996, for whom and for what purpose are unknown.
Baghdad College of Science was identified as one possible location
for smallpox work prior to OIF. An ISG subject matter expert team visited
the University of Baghdad, College of Sciences on three separate occasions
and toured the facilities in late May and early June 2003. The visit
observed generally old, poor condition, and sparse laboratory equipment.
The team inspected a room (room 179) marked “Graduate Studies” which
had locks on both doors. The room contained a large autoclave. The room
had two large overhead fume hoods of the type used in restaurants to
filter the air within the room. There was one small plastic class I
safety cabinet, several shaker incubators, a glove box, old bottles
of culture media. No freezers or liquid nitrogen containers were identified.During
the course of its investigations, ISG inspected the Al Kindi veterinary
vaccine facility. This facility was similar in function to the one Hazim
‘Ali investigated in Irbil in autumn 1990 that produced Newcastle and
animal pox vaccines.
- ISG inspected the production buildings and observed that the
equipment appeared to be for the expressed purpose of producing Newcastle
virus vaccine in chicken eggs; however, this dual-use equipment was
assessed to be easily diverted to produce Variola (smallpox) or other
pathogenic viruses (see Figure 6).
- ISG also visited the building where animal pox vaccines are produced
in tissue culture. Their assessment was thatas with the Newcastle
vaccine unit, the equipment in this building could also be used to
produce large amounts of smallpox virus in tissue culture although
all equipment present is consistent with the expressed purpose of
making animal vaccines.
ISG learned of a television news report that was broadcasted on
Western television in mid-April 2003 that reported the CPHL had been
looted of highly infectious virus such as smallpox, polio and influenza.
ISG visited the latter and interviewed senior researchers who described
the incident. Several visits to the CPHL and interviews with scientists
and researchers have not shed further light into the existence of smallpox
cultures being stored there. ISG did identify a “secret lab” that was
operated there, which had beem vacated in December 2002. The nature
of the research in that laboratory was not determined.
Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever
While Iraqi explanations for why CCHF was not considered for the
BW program remains unsatisfactory, there is little substantial information
to contradict the explanation.
Hazim ‘Ali argued against CCHF being considered endemic to Iraq but did
not deny that a sample could be obtained during the cyclical infection
season. According to Antoine Sabri Al Bana, Iraq’s leading CCHF expert,
the virus circulated widely in herd animals such as donkeys, sheep and
- Some cases of CCHF occurred in Iraq during the time Hazim ‘Ali was
studying overseas and described an incident involving physicians, who
unaware of the virus and its symptoms, were unprotected whilst treating
infected patients. As a result, some of the physicians acquired CCHF
and died. Hazim ‘Ali used this example to illustrate the introduction
of the virus into Iraq and that it was not actually endemic to the country.
- According to Hazim ‘Ali, two researchers from the Veterinary Medical
College worked together on diagnosing and isolating CCHF in the 1970/1980s.
The duration of the experiment and the extent to which testing was conducted
using animals, remains unknown. Hazim ‘Ali claims not to know where
exactly the practical isolation of the virus occurred because of a lack
of sufficient containment to work with the virus and no vaccine was
available at the time. The work of the two researchers was published.
Isolation of the first case of CCHF in Iraq occurred in 1979.
- In 1996, a CCHF outbreak occurred that resulted in over a 100 cases.
Most cases were seen at the Al Khatib hospital, near Tuwaitha, south
of Baghdad. The mortality rate even in treated cases approaches 50 percent.
Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis (Enterovirus 70)
ISG has investigated, but has found no information to suggest that
BW-related research into the contagious agent acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis
(AHCV) occurred after the alleged cessation of the Iraqi viral BW program
in early 1991. The Enterovirus 70 strain that causes AHCV was
introduced to Iraq in the 1970s.
- The documented work conducted on isolating AHCV was unsuccessful according
to Dr. Hazim ‘Ali. A senior virologist involved in the Iraqi BW program
attempted to isolate Rotavirus and AHCV from clinical isolates. When
the source isolated AHCV and had evidently obtained cytopathic results,
the isolate was infected into Hep2 viro cells. The results of the test
According to the senior level viral researcher, Rotavirus, which
causes an acute gastroenteritis, was chosen because of a theory at the
time that as Americans were “more hygienic”, they might be more susceptible
to infection with rotavirus. Little new information has been uncovered
by ISG surrounding Rotavirus, the third virus chosen for the Iraqi viral
- Work was done to isolate the virus from clinical samples but ISG has
no additional information to indicate the success of these attempts.
Other R&D Related to BW Development
ISG judges that, following Desert Storm, in mid-1991, Al Hakam
shifted its focus from Bacillus anthracis production
to Bacillus thuringiensis, a biopesticide and a simulant
for B. anthracis, as a mechanism to preserve a key
segment of Iraq’s BW production base. This shift in focus allowed
Iraq the opportunity to continue the pursuit of relevant technologies
and processes—such as the development of an entirely indigenous growth
media and the drying of biopesticide—that could further achieve its desire
for self-sufficiency in BW.
- Multiple sources told ISG that in order for Rihab’s former anthrax
group to produce Bt, they required the assistance of scientists at TABRC
who had been researching alternatives to chemical pesticides like B.
thuringiensis since the early 1980s. ISG learned from several sources
with direct access that Al Hakam developed B. thuringiensis production
to cover past anthrax production and to preserve production infrastructure
for the future.
- An Iraqi scientist and former head of the anthrax program told ISG
that from 1992-1995 TABRC provided the seed inoculums to Al Hakam for
industrial-scale production of Bt. However, ISG has no information to
suggest that TABRC was involved in production of B. thuringiensis
in quantities larger than the bench-scale amounts required for experimental
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
Bt is a biopesticide that is widely available on the international
market and therefore, trade restrictions aside, it is not immediately
apparent why Iraq should choose to develop its own production process
from scratch. ISG assesses that there are many companies that would
be willing to supply Iraq with Bt and/or sell it a license to produce
the material. ISG is unable to find any indication that preproject planning
work—market considerations, least cost / most effective method for Iraq
to enter the bio-insecticides business—was ever conducted in relation
ISG judges that the TABRC became the primary facility continuing
B. thuringiensis research after Al Hakam’s destruction
in 1996, but ISG lacks evidence that this research was intended as a simulation
for B. anthracis research. However, undeclared
pieces of equipment including fermentors were found at TABRC by ISG and
an important former B. anthracis production expert was reported
to have worked routinely at the facility from 2000 to 2003, which makes
ISG suspicious of the true nature of the work done there.
- An ISG exploitation team found undeclared fermentation vessels and
an underground storage area with other dual-use biological production
and processing equipment at TABRC in October 2003 (see Figure
- Thamir ‘Abd-al-Rahman, who was declared to the UN as involved in Iraq’s
B. anthracis BW project, worked at the TABRC one day a week beginning
in 2000 on a SCP project, according to an Iraqi microbiologist with
direct access, but unknown reliability. Thamir also was reported to
have possibly helped a B. thuringiensis researcher at the TABRC,
Jabbar Al Ma’dhihi, with some viability tests on B. thuringiensis.
Multiple sources told us the primary mission of the TABRC was agricultural
science R&D. The majority of TABRC’s activities involved crop improvement
and integrated pest management. As part of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission
(IAEC) within the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Complex, the facility had
a mature scientific staff with expertise in recombinant DNA technology,
microbiology, entomology, and access to agricultural pathogens, according
to an Iraqi microbiologist of unknown reliability.
- Dr. Al Ma’dhihi—former TABRC Director— oversaw research into the biopesticide
B. thuringiensis and considered it as a replacement for chemical
pesticides in Iraq, according to an Iraqi scientist and former head
of the anthrax program. Under Al Ma’dhihi’s direction, TABRC reportedly
conducted successful research into efficient small-scale production
and drying of B. thuringiensis that could potentially be applied
to the BW agent, B. anthracis. ISG is uncertain whether informal
or formal collaboration between TABRC and the Al Hakam factory occurred
- Some of the research into the genetic modification of B. thuringiensis
done at TABRC in conjunction with the Department of Biotechnology at
Saddam University (now known as Al Nahrayn University) from 1999-2003
used polyethylene glycol protoplast fusion methods, followed by screening,
to produce a new strain of B. thuringiensis that would display
high levels of biomass production as well as infectivity, according
to an Iraqi microbiologist. ISG judges—based on this research—that the
TABRC had genetic engineering capabilities that could be applied to
BW agents like anthrax, but have found no evidence to date that such
work was done.
Generally, ‘simulants’ are closely related to the BW agent that
they are substituting for, but lack the pathogenicity of the BW agent
in humans. The rationale for the use of a simulant is that it can be
safely used for a variety of purposes such as to accurately assess production
methods, storage conditions, weaponization parameters, and dispersal
techniques. Many simulants can also be used for a variety of legitimate
civilian activities and therefore provide cover stories for BW programs.
Single Cell Protein R&D
ISG has found no direct evidence that the post-1995 work carried
out by TABRC into SCP was used to cover continuing research into the production
of BW agents, like what was done at Al Hakam. Testing of samples
taken during site exploitations at TABRC and its SCP production subordinate,
Al Hamath, by a US coalition BW exploitation team were negative for B.
anthracis and C. botulinum (see Figure
8). ISG assessed that a thorough decontamination procedure or, more
likely, that no large-scale R&D or production of known BW agents occurred
at these facilities.
- An Iraqi microbiologist told ISG that the TABRC’s SCP academic research
began in the early 1990s and involved research, experimental testing,
and pilot plant production. The work also involved the development of
a process for upgrading the nutritional quality of the agricultural
residues and wastes.
- The Al Hamath facility worked on a project for the pilot plant scale
production of citric acid using Aspergillus niger. The process
was abandoned when it was discovered that the strain of A. niger
used was unsuitable for use in submerged culture as the mycelium suffered
damage under the continual agitation required for submerged culture.
Two 750l bioreactors from the abandoned citric acid production project
were set aside for SCP work at Al Hamath but only one of the bioreactors
Single Cell Protein
SCP is cell or protein extracts from micro-organisms, grown in large
quantities for use as protein supplements, for example in animal feeds.
SCP production is used to alleviate problems of protein scarcity and
can be used to replace costly conventional sources such as soy meal
and fishmeal. The use of agricultural and industrial wastes for bioconversion
to protein rich food and fodder stocks has the additional advantage
of making the final product cheaper.
Growth Media R&D
ISG judges that beginning in the 1990s Iraq decided indigenously
to research and produce nutrient growth media that could be used to produce
multiple strains of bacteria to include B. anthracis,
but no direct evidence has yet been uncovered that this media was used
to produce B. anthracis post-1991. Dr. Rihab
described to ISG her BW group’s research in developing indigenously produced
media to circumvent the effects sanctions imposed on Iraq after the 1990
- Dr. Al Ma’dhihi was responsible for the development of an indigenously
produced media with ingredients that did not come under UN scrutiny
as a result of the sanctions against Iraq. Importantly, laboratory notebooks
suggest the media was very effective in inducing nearly one hundred
percent sporulation of the B. thuringiensis, a known simulant
for the BW agent B. anthracis, with few or no additives or intensive
monitoring of the fermentation process.
- During January 2004, ISG obtained a laboratory notebook dating back
to 1989 detailing experiments conducted using Dr. Al Ma’dhihi’s locally
produced milk byproduct/corn byproduct media and the B. thuringiensis
variant Kenyae with impressive sporulation results. The notebook
outlined experiments concerning the effect of different concentrations
of the media and additives on sporulation of B. thuringiensis.
These results were consistent with the claims made for the effectiveness
of the media. One experiment detailed in the notebook showed that per
24-48 hours growth of B. thuringiensis in this locally produced
media, there was 100 per cent spore growth with a resulting viable count
of 1.2x108 to 5.6x108 per milliliter.
- Dr. Al Ma’dhihi’s media was essential to a possible Iraqi BW program
as the media was made up of the simple local ingredients, which are
both by-products of other food production processes. The milk byproduct,
in particular, is a waste product. At Al Hakam, the corn byproduct was
made from cornstarch produced at the Al Hashimiyah State Factory in
Al Hillah near Babylon. The milk byproduct was obtained from an unnamed
dairy at Abu Ghurayb. Besides being indigenous and cheap it was impossible
to monitor or account as part of a UN verification process.
- This locally produced media were utilized in the B. thuringiensis
production process at Al Hakam and with growth requirements of B.
thuringiensis being very close to B. anthracis, the whey/CSL
media could potentially have been used at Al Hakam to produce B.
anthracis. Dr. Rihab and Thamir ‘Abd-al-Rahman, the director of
the B. anthracis project at Al Hakam, have both stated in interviews
to ISG that they are unaware of any tests on growing B. anthracis
in the milk and corn byproduct media. This is an odd statement because
both individuals co-authored a document that evaluated various growth
media for growing Bacillus species including B. anthracison such
a commercially available media.
- Thamir goes further to state that there was no reason to replace the
modified G medium declared as used in the anthrax programs as it was
reliable, produced high sporulation rates and was made from simple salts
commercially available within Iraq, and therefore there was no need
to hide procurement signatures. However, Modified G medium (MGM) cannot
be used alone to grow B. anthracis spores. MGM requires that the anthrax
organism be grown in a very enriched medium first and that relative
large inoculums be used in the last step of fermentation that uses modified
G medium. Thus using an alternative to the enriched medium and MGM would
have a material advantage to minimize sanctions scrutiny. Furthermore,
at the time of production of B. thuringiensis at Al Hakam, Iraq
was under increasing scrutiny on the material balance of growth media
Dr. Rihab admitted to ISG that use of such a locally developed milk and
corn byproduct B. thuringiensis media would permit evading monitoring
of media to track fermentation activity.
- An anthrax expert’s assessment was that it was highly probable that
this media would achieve similar rates of sporulation in anthrax production.
Dr. Rihab described to ISG her BW group’s research in developing indigenously
produced media to circumvent the effects sanctions imposed on Iraq after
the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
- Dr. ‘Ali Shihab did media work for an unspecified microbe. Shihab
was the lead scientist for Clostridium perfringens development.
ISG assesses that he was probably working on an alternative growth media
for that organism.
- Nasr Al Hindawi worked on alternative media for Brucella that
was a candidate BW agent undergoing basic research in the period coinciding
with Desert Storm.
- After 1992, Baghdad University worked on plants as a source of bacteria
growth media; the plant media was apparently suitable for pathogen growth,
and Dr. Rihab had expressed her concern that it might attract the attention
- Around June 2002, Dr. Al Ma’dhihi produced about five vials of B.
thuringiensis formulated with bentonite and asked Thamir, who was
working with Dr. Al Ma’dhihi twice a week at TABRC, for an assessment
of their viability by re-growing them in a small volume shake flask
culture. One of Dr. Al Ma’dhihi’s MSc students was working on this organism,
although no other specific reason for this work was given. Thamir cultured
approximately two of the samples, with one of the resulting cultures
exhibiting good activity of 80 to 90 percent mortality of test organism,
the other performed poorly.
Drying Process/Carrier/Particle Size
Multiple sources have told ISG that the B. thuringiensis
research and production at Al Hakam from 1991 to 1996 was done to provide
cover for the equipment and capability at this facility, yet ISG has not
been provided with a good explanation as to why an advanced capability
to dry agents in a particle size too small for efficient biopesticide
use was established. An UNMOVIC document from March 2003 on Iraq’s
Unresolved Disarmament Issues says that the particle size would have had
little use in agriculture and that UNSCOM determined the B. thuringiensis
strain used did not produce biopesticidal proteins, so it would not have
had any utility as a biopesticide. ISG judges that this work advanced
Iraq’s expertise and knowledge in large-scale drying of B. anthracis
even if the agent itself was not produced and dried.
- Iraq successfully dried B. thuringiensis utilizing bentonite
as a carrier and drying agent. According to a source, only one grade
of bentonite was available in Iraq and particle size was dictated by
this. The bentonite was supplied through the Ministry of Industry and
Minerals (MIM) mining company. Talc was also successfully tested as
a carrying agent but was determined to be too expensive for production.
Acetone was experimented with at Al Hakam as a drying agent, but was
found to be too expensive for large-scale production.
- According to a source, at Al Hakam the dried B. thuringiensis was
crushed into 1-10 m sized particles but ISG has found no information
on who decided on this particle size. The same source claimed that the
farmers using the B. thuringiensis from Al Hakam did not like the size
of the particles since it made direct dusting onto plants difficult.
Al Hakam had plans to enlarge the particles to granular size but they
had not completed this work when the facility was destroyed in 1996.
Information surrounding the intended application of B. thuringiensis
remains contradictory with no consensus on whether it was to be applied
wet or dry. A senior researcher involved in the BW program has indicated
that the B. thuringiensis was intended for use against corn borers
as a wet or dry application by farmers. Sources are generally consistent
in their assertion that the B. thuringiensis was never intended
or tested for aerial application. Although the information available suggests
Iraq successfully dried B. thuringiensis and produced the 1-10
m particle size applicable for efficient BW agent dissemination, ISG has
found no information that Iraq actually used the same process to produce
weaponizable dried B. anthracis.
ISG judges that between 1991 and 1996 Iraq possessed an expanding BW
agent production capability. From 1996 to OIF, Iraq still possessed small
but significant dual-use facilities capable of conversion to small-scale
BW agent production. ISG has found no evidence that Iraq used this capability
for BW production.
- Iraq maintained—and tried to improve where possible—a smaller, but
capable, “legitimate” fermentation capability at agricultural and educational
sites that could have been used to produce small but significant quantities
of BW agent. ISG, however, uncovered no information that Baghdad did
- Samarra Drug Industries, for example, had the fixed assets that could
be converted for BW agent production within 4 to 5 weeks after the decision
to do so, including utilities and personnel with know-how and equipment,
not all of which had been declared to the UN. Site buildings contain
numerous jacketed process tanks ranging in capacity from 100-10,000
liters together with ancillary equipment such as filter presses, autoclaves
and bio-safety cabinets.
- ISG cannot disprove the existence of Iraqi transportable fermentations
systems that could have been used for BW. That said, no evidence has
been found to date that there were such systems. ISG judges that the
two mobile trailers found near Mosul and Irbil were not for BW production
(see the accompanying annexes on mobile production facilities for further
Iraq relied heavily on imported equipment and supplies to conduct
its BW program, was dependent upon dual-use civilian facilities to produce
BW agent, and took steps to mitigate the impact of sanctions on its ability
to pursue potential BW agent production.
Iraq relied on equipment that had been imported for civilian purposes
for the production of BW agent prior to the first Gulf war, and demonstrated
the ability to quickly adapt civilian facilities to BW agent production.
This equipment was relocated to a purpose-built BW facility, Al Hakam,
where the production of botulinum toxin was started in 1988. The production
of anthrax spores and C. perfringens (the causative agent of gas
gangrene) followed later. Civilian facilities were requisitioned in 1990
for the production of aflatoxin (the Agriculture and Water Resources Center,
Al Fudaliyah) and for the production of additional quantities of botulinum
toxin and possibly anthrax (the Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Plant,
Al Dawrah). After the war these facilities reverted back to their former
use, and Al Hakam was disguised as a SCP (yeast) and a Bacillus thuringiensis
(biopesticide) production plant.
- Prior to the construction of Al Hakam, alternative locations and options
were considered by the Iraqi authorities. This included the possibility
of having mobile production facilities. Pre-OIF intelligence reports
indicated that Iraq had such facilities.
Baghdad’s BW production centered on a number of important fixed
facilities. The facility at Al Hakam was perhaps the most important, but
Iraq pursued BW in a range of locations.
Iraq initiated production of BW agents (for field tests) at Al Salman
in 1987 using seven laboratory fermentors (7- and 14-liter vessels) and
two small production fermentors. Regarding the two small production fermentors,
one was acquired in 1987 from the At Taji single cell protein (SCP) project
(300 liter) and the other was a 150-liter fermentor purchased while the
program was at Al Muthanna. A medium capacity spray dryer also was transferred
from the At Taji SCP Plant to the BW program in 1987.
After the Al Hakam facility (northern production area) became functional
in 1988, the 300 liter and 150 liter fermentors were transferred to the
new facility. Additionally, a larger scale production capability was acquired
by moving the Clostridial vaccine production line from Al Kindi Veterinary
Research Facility (later named the Veterinary Vaccine and Drug Production
Facility [VVDP]) to Al Hakam. This collection of fermentors and tanks—reported
by the supplier to be fermentors—consisted of two 1,850-liter fermentors,
one 1850-liter tank, and six 1480-liter “tanks” and eight 800-liter mobile
“tanks.” The 1,850-liter fermentors and six 1,480-liter “tanks” were all
used in production of BW agents. Iraq asserted the mobile tank was used
only for storage and transport of bulk agent. A second spray dryer that
could produce small particles—one of two air-freighted from a supplier
to Baghdad in 1989—was located at Al Hakam at the time of its first UN
inspection in September 1991.
In 1990, additional production capability was acquired for the BW program
with the addition of Al Safa’ah (Agriculture and Water Resources Center
at Fudaliyah) and Al Manal (Al Dawrah Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV))
facilities to the BW program. Al Safa’ah possessed a sizeable fermentation
line consisting of several 400-liter fermentors and associated other tanks.
Additionally, the facility had several incubators including one walk-in
incubator, which allowed for some creative stacking of glass flasks said
to be used for aflatoxin production. Al Manal had valuable high containment
capacity for R&D and contained: one 125-liter mobile tank; one 141-liter
and one 236-liter seed fermentors one 1,425-liter and two 2,100-liter
fermentors; two 2,550-liter mobile tanks; two 2,600-liter, two 2950-liter,
and two 3,500-liter fermentors. Of these, assortments of 2,600-liter and
3,500-liter fermentors were used to provide a capacity for 1,200 liters
(10X concentrated) of agent per batch (not all of the available capacities
were said by Iraq to be used in this production process) (see Figure
Additionally, other sites had production capability of a more limited
scale, e.g. Al Kindi Veterinary Research Laboratories (Al Kindi VVDP facility)
and Al ‘Amiriyah Serum Vaccine Institute (ASVI), or capability that would
require modification on a limited scale, e.g. Samarra Drug Industries.
The Al Kindi VVDP facility retained one 1,850-liter tank—damaged during
Desert Storm, when the other tanks and fermentors were transferred to
Al Hakam. Production for viruses and bacteria employing glass flasks and
embryonated eggs were less efficient but ample.
- Iraq declared work on larger-scale fermentation systems for SCP, and
on a capability to produce large-scale quantities of a commercial biopesticide
in the first UNSCOM inspections in the years immediately following the
1991 Gulf war. Many former officials told ISG that Iraq aggressively
worked from 1992 to 1995 at Al Hakam to improve the production and processing
of SCP and the biopesticide B. thuringiensis in an attempt to
save the facility from being destroyed by UNSCOM.
From 1991 to 1996, Iraq continued to expand its dual-use production capability
at Al Hakam—until the facility and equipment were destroyed under UNSCOM
supervision in May-June 1996. Fermentors and associated equipment were
transferred from Al Safa’ah to Al Hakam. Indigenously produced fermentors,
2.5 cubic meters and 5 cubic meters, were installed in the southern production
area. These were assessed by international experts as “not fancy but functional”
although Iraq has stated to ISG that the 5 cubic meter fermentors were
not functional due to propeller shaft problems. Large physical plants
were constructed in anticipation of acquiring two 50 cubic meter turnkey
fermentation systems. These were not delivered.
To avoid sanctions imposed after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Iraq initiated
a program to develop the in-house manufacture of media and media components
suitable for the growth of bacterial BW agents, see Section on R&D.
ISG site exploitations have revealed sites with the potential to undertake
growth media production.
- The large-scale production of bacterial BW agents is a multi-stage
process that requires a growth medium suitable for the selected organism
together with a ‘train’ of specialty, and fermentation equipment.
Because of sanctions and UNSCOM inspections, beginning in 1990 Iraq
had difficulty obtaining an external supply of growth media for large-scale
production of BW agent. By 1992, UN inspections, mandatory declarations
and UN monitoring of growth media importation and use created further
impediments for any Iraqi biological production effort. Rihab apparently
began an effort in 1990 first with some of her BW researchers, and then
later with at least one scientist at the IAEC TABRC, to develop bacterial
growth media from indigenous sources. Rihab stated that when the effort
was initiated in 1990, the intent was to circumvent sanctions placed
on Iraq. ISG does not have evidence that this effort was originally
intended to enable clandestine production of BW agents, but nevertheless
provided some capability in this regard.
The production capabilities at Tuwaitha continued to expand during this
period. The FMDV Plant at Al Dawrah remained functional until it was partially
disabled under UN supervision in 1996; selected fermentors and tanks—identified
as used in botulinum toxin production in 1990—were removed from the facility
and destroyed at Al Hakam in 1996.
Other facilities at Al Kindi VVDP Facility and ASVI recovered and made
modest improvement in production capability as did Samarra Drug Industries
(SDI). During this time frame two new organizations—Al Razi Institute
and Ibn-al-Baytar—were established in converted facilities. These organizations
obtained highly qualified expertise, some of which were associated with
the Iraqi BW program including Dr. Hazim ‘Ali, who headed Iraq’s viral
BW effort and was named Director of Al Razi Institute.
Beyond its important fixed facilities, Iraq also possessed important
relocatable assets associated with its BW production efforts. The destruction
in May-June 1996 of the facilities and equipment involved in Iraq’s BW
program, including the equipment that had been moved or installed at Al
Hakam post 1991, significantly altered Iraq’s dual-use capability, but
did not eliminate all such capability.
At the Al Dawrah FMDV Plant, one 2,600-liter, two 3,500-liter, and one
236-liter fermentor as well as one 2,550-liter mobile tank were not destroyed
under UN supervision in June 1996. These fermentors and tanks were not
identified in 1995/96 by UNSCOM as involved in Iraq’s BW program. However,
DNA evidence of B. anthracis was found in both 2,550-liter tanks
and a 141-liter fermentor in 1996. All of these fermentors and tanks could
be transferred from the FMDV facility to another site or sites within
a few weeks after the decision to do so. ISG assesses these as relocatable
In 1990, Iraq produced at least 39—possibly as many as 70—1,000-liter
mobile tanks that could be readily converted into fermentors. Additionally,
8 mobile 800-liter tanks/fermentors were transferred from Al Kindi Vet
Vaccine Facility to Al Hakam in 1987/88. Of the combined 1,000-liter and
800-liter mobile tanks, only 24 were cited as destroyed by Iraq. Evidence
of such destruction of 24 units was provided to UNSCOM and stored at the
UN Headquarters in the Canal Hotel. Thus, 23 remained after the alleged
unilateral destruction of BW weapons and agents by Iraq in 1991. ISG has
determined that two more tanks were destroyed at Al ‘Aziziyah. Of those
remaining, four are 800-liter imported tanks/fermentors.
- Rihab stated that Iraq was able to produce one cubic meter model fermentors
“with bad wheels”. Documentary evidence dated September 2000 recovered
by ISG indicates that Iraq converted one cubic meter storage tanks into
fermentors that are assessed to have been indigenously fabricated for
Al Hakam under Rihab’s supervision. These storage tanks have been an
unresolved issue for the UN. Rihab denied receiving mobile tanks/fermentors
while at Al Hakam in 1994.
- ISG obtained a document that indicated 10 one cubic meter tanks were
connected prior to 2000 to form a 10 cubic meter fermentation plant
(location unknown). Another document indicates the delivery of an additional
13-14 such tanks in 1993.
A spray dryer—the second of two air freighted into Baghdad in 1989, model
number 0142 was located in 1997 by UNSCOM in a warehouse in northern Iraq,
the first model 0141 was at Al Hakam in 1991 and was destroyed in 1996.
Before the two weeks it took to assemble a sampling team, Iraq again relocated
the dryer, completely disassembled it to cleanse and sterilize it and
then reassembled it. This dryer was under monitoring until 15 December
1998 by UNSCOM. Its present whereabouts is unknown.
ISG judges that after 1996, Iraq maintained—and tried to improve
where possible—a smaller, but capable, “legitimate” fermentation capability
at agricultural and educational sites that could have been used to produce
smaller, yet significant quantities of BW agent, but ISG has found no
direct evidence to substantiate this possibility.
Break-Out Production Capability Pre-OIF
ISG judges that a break-out production capability existed at one
site, the State Company for Drug Industries and Medical Appliances, SDI,
at Samarra. Since Iraq could relocate production assets such as fermentors,
other sites with basic utilities could also be converted for break-out.
A full program to include R&D and production or even just large scale
production would require months rather than weeks to re-initiate in a
A break-out of large-scale proportion would require all three key production
elements; fermentor capacity, media capacity, and technical expertise.
A break-out capability must also take into consideration the scale and
scope of the program being considered. Modest or small-scale break-outs
would be easier and require less time after a decision to do so was made.
For a larger scale and scope such as Iraq possessed in 1990 would require
more equipment, larger supply source, more personnel and a longer time
period for effective start-up. Iraq, having had achieved a maturing program,
had a core group of experienced personnel; a better start than existed
in 1985. Personnel are movable assets as is growth media. While sanctions
and inspections may be a hindrance to an ample supply of media, it would
not have been a show stopper. Iraq developed a milk and corn byproduct
media that is judged to be adequate for the production of anthrax spores,
albeit of a reduced production efficiency. Thus, the equipment for the
scale and scope of a program becomes the critical factor to evaluate a
ISG assesses the SDI to have the fixed assets that could be converted
for BW agent production within four to five weeks after the decision to
do so, including utilities, personnel with know-how, and the equipment
(with slight modifications) required. Media and additional less-skilled
personnel could be obtained (see Figure
ISG judges the movable assets at the Al Dawrah FMDV Plant could provide
the core of an alternative break-out capability at any other suitable
site in Iraq, perhaps within 2 to 3 weeks after the decision to do so.
The 1 cubic meter tanks or fermentors presently unaccounted for are other
important assets that, if indeed still exist, could, when combined with
the Al Dawrah FMDV assets, exceed the capacity Iraq possessed in 1990.
In this case media and personnel are also movable assets.
- Iraq had shown the ability to move fermentor assets pre-1990 era.
Iraq had also shown its ability to utilize small cadres of skilled personnel
to lead clusters of less skilled personnel in the production process.
- Iraq gained additional production and development know-how during
the post-1991 era.
- Iraq has developed the capacity to produce indigenously, substitute
media for the production of some agents, such as corn and milk byproduct
media for anthrax spores.
ISG judges that Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) would likely be the
agent of choice for breakout production.
- It represented the single strategic BW agent that Iraq had in its
- Iraq has a previous track record in large-scale growth, processing,
testing and weaponization of anthrax spores.
- Corn byproduct medium, indigenously manufactured for Bt production,
would also be suitable for the growth of B. anthracis.
Prior to OIF, a key source reported that Iraqhad developed a mobile BW
capability designed to evade UN inspectors and to provide Baghdad the
ability to produce BW agents for offensive purposes (see Figure
11). According to the US Intelligence Community, this reporting was
augmented by reports from at least three additional sources who indicated
a mobile BW or fermentation capability existed in Iraq. The reported development
of a mobile BW agent production capability was a central element in the
pre-war assessment of Iraq’s WMD programs and, as a result, has been one
of the key issues addressed by ISG.
Regarding the mobile capability, ISG’s BW team has focused primarily
on following leads from the key source and the others with indirect or
direct access to Iraq’s BW activities to bring us closer to an assessment
as to whether Iraq did indeed pursue an undeclared mobile BW agent production
capability. The ISG effort consisted of debriefing over sixty individuals
and exploiting numerous sites identified as related to a transportable
BW production effort. However, ISG acknowledges that much of the site
exploitation effort was hampered by Iraqi post-OIF activities such as
turnover of employees and looting. Based on information collected by ISG,
the key source was determined to be unreliable.
- Debriefings and site visits have uncovered information that differs
with pre-OIF reporting, including denials of the existence of the program
from personnel allegedly involved. ISG has exhausted many leads and
exploited many sites reportedly pertaining to Iraq’s alleged mobile
BW agent production capability and have obtained no additional evidence
to corroborate the claim of the existence of a mobile BW program. As
for other individuals that alleged the existence of a mobile BW capability,
ISG has not been able to corroborate this reporting and believe that
these individuals are outside of Iraq.
ISG cannot disprove the existence of Iraqi transportable fermentation
systems that could have been used for BW, but ISG uncovered no evidence
that there were such systems. A report covering the detailed investigations
of ISG is attached as Annex 3.
As part of its investigation into a possible Iraqi mobile BW agent production
program, two mobile trailers that were recovered near Irbil and Mosul
in 2003 have been examined by ISG. These trailers had tanks or suspected
fermentors on board and were initially suspected to be part of a mobile
BW agent production program. ISG judges that its Iraqi makers almost
certainly designed and built the equipment exclusively for the generation
of hydrogen. ISG judges that it is impractical to use the equipment for
the production and weaponization of BW agent, and cannot therefore be
part of any BW program. A report covering the detailed investigation of
the trailers by ISG, is attached as Annex 4.
- ISG has found no evidence to support the view that the trailers were
used, or intended to be used, for the production of BW agents, or the
filling of BW weapons.
- The design of the equipment makes it unsuitable for the production
of BW agent and impractical as part of a BW weapons production system.
- The information gathered, and the assessment of the equipment on the
trailers, are consistent with the theory that Iraq developed the trailers
for hydrogen gas production.
These findings reflect the assessment solely of the two specific mobile
units that were located, and do not necessarily mean that such a capability
or intent did not exist.
Between the late 1980s and the start of Desert Storm in 1991, Iraq
attempted to develop a range of systems for the dispersion of BW agent.
In the dash to field viable BW weapons the workers in the program adapted
robust bombs capable of mounting on many types of aircraft and warheads,
including the Al Husayn missile. They also worked furiously to ready an
aircraft spray system.
- The scientists and engineers conducted weapons trials over some three
years with both simulants and BW agents, on occasion using living animals
as targets. Delivery systems tested included a helicopter-borne spray
system, aerial bombs, artillery shells, multi-barrel rocket launchers,
long-range missile warheads and an aircraft mounting of an adapted auxiliary
- In the haste to prepare for the 1991 conflict, systems tried and tested
with CW agents were preferred; the R-400 aerial bomb and the Al Husayn
warhead, charged with anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin. Additionally,
engineers at Al Muthanna rushed the auxiliary fuel tank, modified into
a spray system, of the Mirage F1 aircraft into service (see Figure
- Prior to Desert Storm, Iraq had dedicated complimentary programs to
develop spray technology that could effectively disseminate either CW
or BW agents. These spray dispersal systems were intended for use in
conjunction with various developmental unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)
programs. Initial testing was quickly beginning to show progress by
the time of Desert Storm. Since that time however, while their desire
for these systems remained, their developmental work shifted focus.
Due to the attention of the UNSCOM
inspectors, the developmental effort shifted away from the more controversial
spray technologies toward completing the longer range UAV goals.
ISG judges—with important reservations—that the former Regime clandestinely
destroyed almost all of Iraq’s biological WMD and long-range missiles
in 1991. Numerous interviews with high-ranking Iraqi political
figures, WMD scientists, and military and security officers indicate that
after a brief period of concealment in 1991, Iraqi leaders decided to
destroy Iraq’s undeclared weapons stockpile in secret.
- Shortly after the passage of Security Council Resolution 687 in early
April 1991, Iraqi leaders also decided to erase all traces of the offensive
- By the autumn of 1991, Iraq probably accomplished both the destruction
of the weapons stockpile and surviving evidence of the BW program.
- Interviews conducted by ISG have produced a reasonably coherent picture
of this unilateral destruction, with few conflicting details, although
important questions about the disposition of bulk BW agent and bacterial
reference strains remain.
- ISG judges that the former Regime destroyed most of its hidden stockpile
of BW weapons. A few pre-1991 weapons probably either escaped destruction
in 1991 or suffered only partial damage. It is thus possible that a
few more will be found in the months and years ahead.
ISG bases its reservations on the following factors:
- The security situation in Iraq has limited the physical verification
of Iraq’s unilateral destruction claims—by excavating and counting weapon
fragments, for example.
- Many of the officials interviewed by ISG had previously lied–or told
half-truths–to UNSCOM, and they may have lied to ISG as well, though
ISG assesses that most were being open and truthful.
- The continuing exploitation of Iraqi documents may produce evidence
that contradicts the assertions of the Iraqi officials.
- The efforts of the Iraqi Interim Government and Coalition forces may
yet result in the discovery of unacknowledged WMD stockpiles left by
the former Regime, though ISG judges this to be very unlikely.
ISG has not discovered any evidence that Iraq has conducted research
or trials dedicated to the dispersion of BW agents since declaring its
offensive program in 1995. Iraq pursued some delivery systems projects
until OIF that could have provided some BW utility and whose origins lay
in the development of BW and CW dispersion systems.
- Iraq continued to develop delivery platforms for small payload weapons
up to OIF. ISG has not identified any specific payloads for these systems.
By their nature, these platforms were expensive and limited in number.
They would have far greater utility for special weapons, such as BW
or CW agent or radiological material, rather than conventional warheads.
The Delivery Systems Team has reported on UAV that operate autonomously
and remotely piloted vehicles (RPV) that were operated from a ground
station. The L-29 RPV was the latest development of a concept that commenced
in the Technical Research Center (TRC), the home of Iraq’s BW program
in the late 1980s. After the L-29, Iraq continued to work on the development
of UAVs and RPVs, the Al Quds being one example.
- Although the Iraqis made significant initial progress in their spray
dissemination programs, disregarding the definite adverse impact in
their research from Desert Storm, they were still significantly short
of the target goal. Perfecting just the sprayer technology—such as optimizing
tank pressures, nozzle designs for droplet size and concentrations,
together with determining operational flight envelopes—for use with
either a chemical or a BW mission in mind was still years from fruition.
The aircraft or UAV carrier platforms also were far from being completed.
However, the “know-how” and the same “experts” still existed and the
technology necessary is largely duplicative with agricultural uses.
Therefore, it was potentially just a matter of iterative analysis and
experimentation to achieve a capable CBW spray dissemination system.
Attempts at BW Weaponization
In common with much else in Iraq’s BW program, progress was steady and
planned, except when the exigencies of impending war forced a convulsive
change of pace and direction. Thus, having toxicological and production
aspects in hand, some scientists and engineers turned their attention
to weaponization. Starting with small-scale animal tests using small quantities
of agent dispersed using a detonator in a confined space they progressed,
step by step, toward full-scale weapons trials using viable BW agent.
Dr. Rihab and her team, assisted by MIC consultants, evaluated many types
of weapon. The initial trials were modest and used a BW agent simulant.
Next, individual weapons charged with viable BW agent were fired statically.
Eventually, trials used salvoes of rockets at their operating range. The
rationale for the choice of weapon types and agents is a matter that,
even now, Iraqis are reluctant to talk about. Al Muthanna organized the
trials and advised on the weapons technology. As a result, the thinking
appears to have followed CW lines. Until the imposed requirement to weaponize
at pull speed in 1990, the latter field trials aimed at amassing data
for the delivery of anthrax. This may have been an attempt to provide
a means of denying ground in front of an invading enemy, and would parallel
the use of CW agents such as mustard. Following the instruction from Husayn
Kamil these trials stopped and efforts switched to longer range delivery
systems such as aircraft bombs and sprays and ballistic missiles.
Aerial Bombs. Dr. Al Hindawi and Dr. Rihab state that their
first weapons-related field trial consisted of the explosive detonation
of two cylinders representing munitions containing a simulant. A trial
using an Iraqi manufactured LD-250 aerial bomb charged with botulinum
toxin followed in March 1988, using animals on a grid as a target. They
reported repeating this trial later the same month.‘Zubaydi’ Helicopter
Spray Device. As early as 1987 under the auspices of the residual Al Hasan
BW program at Al Salman, Iraq started efforts to develop BW aerosol dissemination
systems. Dr. Tariq Zubaydi, a university professor interested in “detecting
bacterial organisms in the air,” coordinated these tests. He had proposed
reverse engineering a nebulizer system. In time, his work led to developing
better spray systems in support of his research. TRC was keen to exploit
his research for BW purposes. The first known field test occurred in July
1988 at Khan Bani Sa’ad. These early tests involved rotary sprayers mounted
on a helicopter.
Artillery Shells.According to one of the scientists involved
in TRC’s Ricin program, Dr. Lu’ay Qasim, Al Muthanna technicians detonated
four 155 mm artillery shells filled with the agent in a ground test at
Jurf as Sakhr.
122 mm Multi-barrel Rockets.In the following year, 1989,
the TRC team, assisted by Al Muthanna, was investigating the dispersion
achieved by individual rounds and salvoes from 122 mm multi-barrel rocket
launcher systems. Weapons were filled with Botulinum toxin, aflatoxin,
wheat cover smut spores, and simulants.
Fixed-Wing Aircraft Spray Systems. The “Thu-al-Fiqar” project
started in November 1990, soon after the publication of an Israeli newspaper
article described how an aircraft with a biological weapon could kill
the majority of a target population under favorable conditions. Husayn
Kamil ordered Al Muthanna to develop a capability to disseminate a BW
agent from an aircraft. As a result, two independent working groups were
established; one group consisted of experts from Al Muthanna, the Technical
Research Center (TRC) and the Iraqi Air Force, while the other group was
restricted to the Military Research and Development Center (MRDC) at Baghdad’s
Al Rashid Airfield. These projects may have their origins in CW rather
than BW. In a letter dated 10 December 1990, Gen. Fa’iz Shahin, DG of
Al Muthanna, writing to Husayn Kamil, referred to “successful tests
of spraying mustard gas by planes which proved to be very effective.”
This may account for the speed with which Al Muthanna was able to advance
with this task.
- Mirage F1 Auxiliary Fuel Tank Spray System. The Al Muthanna
group worked on modifying Mirage F1 auxiliary fuel tanks to disperse
the BW agent. The first tank modified contained an electric fuel valve
adapted to feed agent through a crude venturi outlet. This tank was
installed on a Mirage F1 and one field test was performed at Abu ‘Ubaydi
Airfield near Al Kut. This unsuccessful test led to more tanks being
modified for testing by adding two more valves and outlets and strengthening
the structure of the tank. Various combinations of water with other
additives were tested with differing degrees of success. It eventually
was determined that under proper circumstances (correct combinations
of additives and flight conditions), acceptable results were achieved
(i.e., the liquid dispensed was deposited on the ground in the testing
areas as planned). However, when simulated BW agents were then tested,
the results were unsatisfactory.
- MiG-21 RPV. A senior NMD official recently reported
on his pre-OIF research of the 1990-91 MiG-21 RPV development project
and the associated Mirage F-1 CBW spray tank project, as well as the
later L-29 RPV project. The purpose of the research was to prepare the
NMD to respond to urgent requirements from UNMOVIC. The NMD official
said his investigation confirmed that the MiG-21 RPV had been intended
for a mission to deliver CBW agents and that the Mirage F-1 project
was a related effort to develop an aircraft-mounted CBW spray tank.
While the MiG-21 RPV effort failed, the Mirage F-1 spray tank development,
on the other hand, was considered successful. While varying in some
minor details concerning the timing of some test events, this NMD official
essentially corroborates the UNSCOM report.
The Gulf War
By the start of the 1991 Gulf war, Iraq had produced significant quantities
of BW agents. The weaponization of these agents demonstrated a rudimentary
understanding of BW weapons and agent dissemination. Dr. Mahmud Farraj
Bilal Al Samarra’i, the Al Muthanna official who headed the effort to
weaponize CBW agents, described this aspect of the BW program as ‘immature’.
Iraq had no operational experience with these agents or BW weapons, had
limited delivery systems to employ them, and had no practiced employment
doctrine. Dr. Bilal’s philosophy was to adapt chemical weapons for BW
agent use. Though Iraq had made initial efforts toward the development
of more advanced aerosolization technologies, senior BW managers dismissed
this approach in favor of tried and tested CW systems.
Based on an apparent press article, Husayn Kamil and his Deputy ‘Amir
Hamudi Hasan Al Sa’adi directed a compartmented program to develop aircraft
spray tanks and modify a MiG-21 jet aircraft into a remotely piloted vehicle
(RPV). Iraq conducted several successful field trials using a modified
1,100-liter fuel tank mounted on aircraft. The UAV effort failed to reach
an operational developmental prototype prior to 1991.
ISG recovered documents that provided insight into Iraq’s perceived success
in BW weaponization. According to ‘Amir Al Sa’adi, who coincidentally
evaluated Dr. Rihab’s professional work, he annotated her award nomination
package in 2000 and cited the conventional explosive dissemination munitions,
aerial bomb, artillery, and rockets as inactive. He judged efforts for
spray system as not reaching weaponization with the research as incomplete.
Concealment And Destruction of Biological Weapons
Iraq’s Initial WMD Concealment Effort
UNSCR 687, approved on 3 April 1991, required Iraq to disclose
fully its weapons’ programs and stockpiles, yet the former Regime decided
later that month only to declare partially their programs and weapons.
- In the week following the passage of UNSCR 687, MIC Senior Deputy
Dr. ‘Amir Al Sa’adi convened a meeting of all the senior managers from
the missile, chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons programs. These
program heads brought with them inventories of weapons, missiles, launchers,
accessory equipment, bulk agents, raw materials, and production machinery,
along with recommendations of what to declare and what to hide.
Al Sa’adi and the program heads wrote a paper detailing a series of options
for Iraq’s response to the resolution. These options, according to Al
- Declaring everything and actively cooperating with inspectors.
- Declaring all sites and weapons but saying nothing about activities
under development such as the nuclear program, and not volunteering
information responding to questions when asked.
- Hiding everything. They based this option on the Coalition’s claim
that it destroyed everything during the war.
- A fourth option may have called for Iraq to make a simple declaration
of a few lines and to let the UN respond with clarification of what
- One or two of the options contained a provision that Iraq should unilaterally
destroy the biological program. Another option called for Iraq to declare
only BW research and development work.
Al Sa’adi submitted the options to Husayn Kamil, not directly to Saddam.
Husayn Kamil later gathered Al Sa’adi and several of the program heads
and gave them instructions regarding the declarations. He did not base
his instructions on a single recommended option but contained elements
from several options. After the initial declaration in April, Iraq also
submitted a more detailed declaration in May 1991.
- Whether Saddam was involved in the decision is not clear, though ISG
judges that he was probably involved. Once Husayn Kamil made the overall
policy for the declarations, Al Sa’adi, in consultation with the program
heads, decided which weapons and programs to declare.
Senior Iraqi officials have stated several reasons for Iraq’s retention
of weapons and its failure fully to declare its programs.
- Husayn Kamil decided that a full declaration–to include the nuclear
and BW programs– would be embarrassing to Iraq and would bring undesired
international scrutiny, according to one participant in the April 1991
- Former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq ‘Aziz stated that Husayn Kamil
originally wanted to keep the concealed, undeclared weapons for use
in the future, and he speculated that Kamil probably wanted to use them
against the United States, Israel, or Kuwait.
- Former Oil Minister and MIC Deputy, ‘Amir Muhammad Rashid Al ‘Ubaydi,
speculated to ISG that Iraq did not declare all of its weapons in order
to maintain a deterrent against the United States, which continued to
menace Iraq from Kuwait and southern Iraq at the time of the initial
- Another official believed that Iraq’s decision not to declare all
of Iraq’s weapons came from Saddam who was afraid of Iran, Israel, and
perhaps other neighbors. Post-war Iraq was unstable, and Iraq found
itself in a helpless and defenseless position.
- Another official believed Iraq retained missiles and launchers because
Iraq was experiencing serious Iranian-instigated security problems–the
1991 Shia uprising– and Iraq wanted to keep the missiles in case war
developed with Iran.
- In the period shortly after the passage of UNSCR 687, most Iraqi officials
did not think that the resolution would be vigorously applied, and they
expected that inspectors would only operate in Iraq for a couple of
Because of Husayn Kamil’s decision in April 1991, Iraq only partially
declared its holdings of chemical weapons and missiles, while it did not
declare its biological and nuclear weapons program at all.Iraq concealed
the undeclared weapons to varying degrees.
- Iraq concealed between 128-157 R-400 bombs containing BW agent at
Airfield 37 in western Iraq and at Al ‘Aziziyah to the southeast of
- Iraq also concealed 25 biological agent-filled Al Husayn missile warheads;
15 in the embankment of the Tigris Canal northwest of Baghdad, and 10
warheads in the Al Mansuriyah former railway tunnel to the northeast
of Baghdad. These warheads contained botulinum toxin, Bacillus anthracis
spores, and aflatoxin, though the number filled with each agent is still
- Iraq also concealed an undetermined amount of bulk BW agent at a succession
of locations around the periphery of Baghdad.
The Destruction of Iraq’s BW
An IAEA inspection in late June 1991 triggered Iraq’s decision
unilaterally to destroy the undeclared weapons that had been concealed
from the UN, according to multiple senior Iraqi officials. The
IAEA’s inspection team was blocked from sites in Abu Ghurayb and Fallujah.
The Iraqis fired warning shots over the inspectors’ heads, but the inspectors
brought back photos indicating Iraq was hiding undeclared uranium enrichment
equipment from the inspectors.
- The IAEA inspection and the international uproar surrounding it caused
consternation and a measure of panic in the Regime’s leadership, particularly
Husayn Kamil, and Saddam appointed a high-level committee headed by
Deputy Prime Minister Tariq ‘Aziz to deal with inspection matters, according
to multiple sources.
- A senior Iraqi scientist who directed the destruction of chemical
and biological munitions contends that the decision to destroy the hidden
materials was made at the end of June 1991. The IAEA inspection and
the ensuing controversy prompted Iraqi concerns about renewed war with
the US, according to Dr. Bilal. ‘Amir Rashid telephoned Dr. Bilal and
ordered that all hidden chemical and biological munitions be destroyed
within 48 hours. When Bilal responded that this was impossible, ‘Amir
Rashid directed that Bilal use the resources of the Iraqi Air Force
and the surface-to-surface missile force to accomplish the task. Dr.
Bilal gathered his colleagues from Al Muthanna, went to the locations
of the stored munitions, and began the destruction.
Interviews with high-ranking political figures, managers of military
industries, WMD scientists, and disarmament officials indicate that Iraq
decided in the spring of 1991 to eliminate evidence of the BW program.
All the interview subjects agree that Iraq accomplished this elimination
by the autumn of 1991, though there are still important questions about
the timing of the effort, the amounts and origins of material destroyed,
and whether Iraq initially planned to retain a stock of BW.
The Iraqi leadership regarded the BW program as politically dangerous
for Iraq and made the decision to destroy the BW program, according to
- Husayn Kamil actually made the decision to destroy weapons and evidence
of the BW program in April at the same time that he decided not to declare
the program, according to NMD head, Husam Amin.
- In early May 1991, Husayn Kamil verbally ordered Technical Research
Center (TRC) head Ahmad Murtada to destroy all biological agents, along
with all documentation for their research, development, and production,
according to Dr. Rihab.
- Former MIC director ‘Amir Rashid also indicated that the destruction
decision came from Husayn Kamil, who then relayed the decision through
Al Sa’adi and himself, to TRC head Murtada for execution.
The BW program’s destruction occurred in three distinct phases:
- The cleanup and sterilization of research and production facilities,
including Al Salman, Al Hakam, Al Manal (Al Dawrah, FMDV Plant), and
Al Safa’ah (Al Fudaliyah)
- The destruction of munitions by the TRC Biological Group and Al Muthanna
- The deactivation and dumping of bulk BW agent.
Concealment of the production aspects of the BW program required the
thorough cleanup of Iraq’s BW research and production facilities, which
reportedly began shortly after the destruction decision. Cleanup was completed
prior to the arrival of the first UNSCOM BW inspection in August 1991,
according to TRC head Dr. Ahmad Murtada.
- The TRC T-3 BW research and development facility at Al Salman, located
three kilometers south of Salman Pak, which Coalition bombing had badly
damaged during the 1991 war, was further destroyed with explosives,
and the site graded and landscaped. A review of reporting from the summer
of 1991 indicates this activity began in early July 1991 and was complete
by the end of that month.
- The Al Manal production facility was cleaned up, equipment not originally
part of the facility was taken to Al Hakam, and the site returned to
its original owner–before the first UNSCOM inspection in May 1991, according
to Dr. Rihab, although MIC did not formally relinquish control until
- Al Hakam, one of Iraq’s major BW agent production plant, was not damaged
during the 1991 war, and Husayn Kamil sought to maintain the facility–with
its specialized equipment and work force– by creating a civilian cover
story to explain the presence of the large-scale production equipment.
The plant was converted for production of biopesticide and single cell
Iraq destroyed its BW weapons in the summer of 1991, according to multiple
- Dr. Bilal of Al Muthanna was responsible for destroying the BW–R-400
aerial bombs and Al Husayn missile warheads–because no one within the
TRC T-3 Directorate had any experience with weapons, while Al Muthanna
personnel were very familiar with them. Bilal was assisted by Sinan
‘Abd-al-Hasan Muhi Mustafa Al ‘Ubaydi and Isma’il Ahmad Salih Bashir
Al Bashir of TRC.
- There were two sites within the ‘Aziziyah bombing range for the destruction
of the R-400 BW bombs–possibly 133 or 134 of them, according to Dr.
Bilal. Deactivation of the agent within the bombs with formalin and
potassium permanganate (for botulinum toxin and anthrax bombs) or bleach
(for bombs containing aflatoxin) was followed by destruction of the
bomb casings with explosives.
- The Al Husayn BW warheads were chemically deactivated by Al Hakam
personnel at their storage sites (the Tigris Canal embankment and the
Al Mansuriyah former railway tunnel), then taken to An Nibai and destroyed
with explosives, according to Bilal and Rihab.
- Iraq’s BW declaration indicated Iraq had 157 R-400 BW bombs (100 botulinum
toxin, 50 anthrax, and 7 aflatoxin) and 25 Al Husayn BW warheads (5
anthrax, 16 botulinum toxin, and 4 aflatoxin). UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, and
the Iraqis themselves regarded these numbers as soft estimates because
of the lack of documentation.
- UNMOVIC-monitored excavations at the Al ‘Aziziyah destruction site
in February and March 2003 unearthed evidence of 104 R-400s, in addition
to the 24 R-400s excavated under UNSCOM supervision. As a result, UNMOVIC
considered the 128 R-400s accounted for at Al ‘Aziziyah.
It also appears that Iraq destroyed its stocks of bulk agent in the summer
or autumn of 1991, but Iraqi accounts of this destruction vary in timing,
amounts, and location. As a result, ISG still does not have a clear picture
of bulk agent destruction. There remain a number of inconsistencies in
the accounts of the officials involved.
- A 2,200-liter storage tank of anthrax in underground storage at Al
Hakam remained there during the 1991 war, along with two one cubic meter
tanks on trailers. The trailers had flat tires and the large tank was
not transportable. The disposition of this material is unknown, according
to a former BW program official.
- In the summer of 1991, Al Hakam personnel deactivated anthrax stored
in an unknown number of one-cubic meter stainless steel tanks using
formalin and potassium permanganate. They dumped the anthrax into a
septic tank for an unspecified period, then trucked the deactivated
anthrax to an area near the production bunkers at Al Hakam and dumped
it on the ground.
- In April 1991, Al Hakam personnel removed some of the Clostridium
botulinum and Bacillus anthracis produced at Al Hakam and
stored it in a bungalow in Ar Radwaniyah until May 1991, according to
Dr. Rihab. This agent was supposed to return to Al Hakam for disposal
but was not. Later, Rihab’s staff destroyed and disposed of the BW agent
in ar-Radwaniyah. This concealment and destruction was never declared
to the UN.
- An Iraqi BW program official inadvertently told UN inspectors about
the dumping of an unknown number of one-cubic meter stainless steel
tanks of anthrax in the desert northwest of Baghdad near An Nibai in
July 1991, according to a former BW official.
- Al Hakam personnel reportedly transported several one cubic meter
tanks of botulinum toxin and 340 liters of Clostridium perfringens
to Airfield 37 in western Iraq in January 1991 as the war was about
to begin. At some point, unidentified personnel loaded these tanks onto
a truck and drove them around Baghdad until September or October 1991.
Iraq had told the UN it destroyed the material in July 1991. This was
not so. The tanks probably returned to Al Hakam where, following deactivation,
disposal occurred, though the Iraqi NMD could not confirm this, according
to a BW program official.
- One source indicated that the 340 liters of Clostridium perfringens
at Al Hakam remained there until the destruction of Al Hakam (in 1996),
but this contention is not supported by other sources. Another source
maintains that researchers tested this agent in May 1991, found severe
fungal contamination, and assessed that the agent was no longer pathogenic.
The Iraqis also apparently destroyed tanks of anthrax at the ‘Aziziyah
firing range, the site of the R-400 bomb destruction. The number of containers
and the amount of agent destroyed is unclear.
- Three one cubic meter tanks of anthrax stored at the ‘Aziziyah firing
range were ordered destroyed in June 1991, according to a participant
in the destruction. After gathering debris from the destruction, he
reported to his supervisor, Dr. Bilal, that the tanks had been destroyed.
However, an entry in the log book of the officer in charge of the ‘Aziziyah
range only lists the destruction of two of the tanks, and therefore
the source believed that one of the containers still exists at Al ‘Aziziyah.
- Two destroyed one cubic meter bulk storage and transport containers
–along with parts of a third container–were found at Al ‘Aziziyah during
Iraqi excavations of the site just prior to OIF, according Dr. Bilal.
If true, it would account for the missing third anthrax tank. Other
participants in the 2003 excavations have not confirmed the finding
of this third container.
Iraq declared that all bulk agent, including anthrax that remained after
the filling of weapons, had been stored at Al Hakam and was unilaterally
destroyed there in July and August 1991, according to UNMOVIC. UNMOVIC
also noted that UNSCOM found evidence of anthrax disposal at Al Hakam
but considered the evidence insufficient to support Iraq’s statements
about the quantity of anthrax destroyed and the circumstances surrounding
The problem of accounting for the destruction of bulk agent is part of
the larger issue of Iraqi BW agent material balance. ISG cannot arrive
at an agent material balance because it still does not know with confidence:
- The amount of each agent produced at each production facility
- The amount of each agent used in weapons filling
- The number of weapons filled with each agent
- The amount of bulk agent of each type destroyed.
It is not clear whether the original decision to eliminate the BW program
called for the destruction of bulk agent and BW munitions, or if Iraq
initially planned to conceal and retain the bulk agent and filled munitions.
Kamil’s original plan may have only encompassed the cleanup and conversion
of the research and production facilities.
- The BW munitions were all destroyed in the summer of 1991, according
to multiple sources, but Iraq was also engaged in a much wider campaign
of unilateral destruction during this period that also encompassed the
chemical and missile programs.
- Iraq apparently destroyed much of the bulk BW agent in July 1991,
but some reportedly remained hidden until September or October 1991,
according to one BW program insider.
A letter written by Husam Amin to Qusay Saddam Husayn, as head of the
Iraqi SSO, supports the judgment that Iraq unilaterally destroyed most
of its pre-1991 CW and BW weapons and long-range missiles. The letter,
written in August 1995 shortly after Husayn Kamil fled to Jordan, listed
undeclared capabilities that Kamil might reveal to the UN.
- The letter points out that “the destruction of the biological weapons
occurred in the summer of 1991 (after the ceasefire) and not in the
fall of 1990 as in the Iraqi declaration” to the UN.
- The letter mentions a number of undeclared capabilities e.g. weaponization
of BW agents, BW production at the Al Dawrah FMDV Plant, the Badr-2000
program, and other matters, but contains no mention of any existing
undeclared CBW weapons or missiles.
Husam Amin acknowledged writing the letter, and ISG judges that the letter
What Remained Hidden and Undeclared 1995-1998?
ISG’s investigation found no evidence that Iraq continued to hide
BW weapons after the unilateral destruction of 1991 was complete, and
ISG judges that most of the documents and materials hidden by the Special
Republican Guard from 1991 until 1995 were indeed surrendered to the UN.
However, Iraq continued to conceal documents from 1998 until 2003.
- For several years, Special Republican Guard officers concealed the
“know-how” documents, which Husayn Kamil ordered collected in 1991.
These officers used safehouses in the Ghaziliyah and Hay at Tashri neighborhoods
of Baghdad and a farm in Abu Ghurayb to hide the documents.
- In late 2002, weeks before the arrival of the UNMOVIC inspectors in
Iraq, NMD employees reportedly were ordered to collect all documents
indicating discrepancies between the number of chemical and biological
munitions destroyed or used and the total number produced. These documents,
which filled 16 boxes, were being turned in to the IIS to be hidden
or disposed of.
ISG investigations also determined that Iraq failed to declare to the
UN a number of significant capabilities and activities. Examples of such
- Storage and disposal of bulk BW agent, including anthrax, at Ar Radwaniyah
Weaponization Related Activities in the Years Following Desert Storm
Various reporting indicates an interest in acquiring systems for
the dissemination of CBW. Acquisition related efforts were usually
couched in generic terms, such as “aerosol systems” or “aerosol generators,”
and typically associated by the Iraqis with agricultural use. It would
also appear that there may have been plans to keep the spray technology
remnants of the CBW programs hidden from UN inspectors.
Detailed Accounting of Iraq’s Al Husayn Missile “Special” Warheads
According to Iraqi declarations and Dr. Mahmud Farraj Bilal, Iraq
had produced 75 “special” Al Husayn warheads, including 50 chemical
warheads, and 25 biological warheads.
In April 1991, Iraqi initially declared to the UN only 30 warheads–all
of them chemical. Iraq destroyed these under UNSCOM supervision. Of
the 30 CW warheads:
- 16 contained unitary Sarin (GB) nerve agent
- 14 contained the cyclohexanol/isopropanol mixture that was the
basis for Iraq’s “binary” GB/GF nerve agent. The methylphosphonic
difluoride (DF) component for these warheads was also destroyed.
In addition to these 30 declared chemical warheads, Iraq initially
concealed 20 undeclared chemical warheads from UNSCOM, which it destroyed
in the summer of 1991. All were “binary” warheads filled with a mixture
of cyclohexanol and isopropanol.
After Husayn Kamil fled Iraq in August 1995, Iraq clarified that
the 75 Al Husayn warheads actually consisted of 50 chemical and 25 biological
warheads. Of the 25 biological warheads, Iraq declared and Dr. Bilal
- 5 contained “Agent B”—anthrax spores
- 16 contained “Agent A”—botulinum toxin
- 4 contained “Agent C”—aflatoxin
To verify Iraq’s claims, UNSCOM sampled remnants of warheads destroyed
at An Nibai and found traces of anthrax in containers of seven distinct
missile warheads. In response, Iraq changed its account of BW warheads.
Dr. Bilal clarified that no one knew for certain the number of warheads
filled with a given agent because the Iraqis kept no records of the
Of the 45 “special” warheads that were unilaterally destroyed by
Iraq, UNSCOM recovered and accounted for remnants of 43-45.
The Al Husayn warhead “material balance” is thus:
|| Total “special” warheads
produced by Iraq
|| Destroyed under UNSCOM
|| “Binary” CW warheads unilaterally destroyed
at An Nibai
|| Deactivated BW warheads unilaterally destroyed
at An Nibai
|| Toatl warheads unilaterally destroyed
| Total “special”warheads
- In 1994, a Hughes 500 helicopter was equipped with two L-29 drop tanks
at At Taji Airfield by Dr. Imad ‘Abd-al-Latif ‘Abd-al-Rida’Ali Shihab.
He reportedly did this to satisfy a requirement from the Minister of
Agriculture to replace its aging agricultural helicopters. No other
helicopters were converted. UNSCOM tagged the helicopter and while inspectors
agreed it was only for agricultural use, it was kept under close scrutiny.
ISG recovered these tanks in February 2004 and have conducted extensive
sampling and forensic analysis to determine what materials were disseminated
from these tanks, but have not discovered any materials relating either
directly or indirectly to BW.
- The L-39 RPV, UAVs and ballistic missile developments are addressed
in the Delivery Systems Section of this Report.
Detailed Accounting of Iraq’s R-400 BW Aerial Bombs
Iraq declared and Dr. Mahmud Farraj Bilal contends that Iraq originally
manufactured 200 R-400 bomb casings for use as BW. Some of these were
coated internally with epoxy for filling with “Agent A” (botulinum toxin)
and “Agent B” (Bacillus anthracis spores). Dr. Bilal maintains that
Iraq unilaterally destroyed 133 or 134 R-400 BW aerial bombs in 1991.
In the two months prior to the outbreak of war in 2003, Iraq excavated
two R-400 destruction sites in ‘Aziziyah and recovered the remnants
of 133 or 134 R-400 bombs, including eight or nine intact bombs. UNMOVIC,
however, accepted that 128 R-400 were accounted for at ‘Aziziyah.
Six more bombs were found to be defective prior to filling. Al Hakam
personnel discarded these six bombs in the Euphrates River. Later, UNSCOM
retrieved these from the river.
Dr. Bilal claims that the Iraqis reviewed a videotape of the UNSCOM-supervised
destruction of 60 or 61 empty R-400 bombs at Al Muthanna in 1991. They
noted that 30 of the bombs destroyed had black-stripe markings, indicating
they were epoxy-coated and intended for BW use. Bilal believes that
the remainder of the 60-61 bombs destroyed on the tape showed those
manufactured for BW use.
| The R-400 BW aerial bomb “material
balance” is thus:
|| casing manufactured for BW use
|| Filled R-400s unilaterally destroyed at `Aziziyah
(with 8-9 intact bombs), with UNMOVIC accounting for 128 and Dr.
Bilal stating 134.
| 60 or 61
|| Empty R-400 casings deestroyed at Al Muthanna
under UNSCOM supervision
| Defetive casings discarded inteh Tigris River
by Al Hakam personnel
|| Total R-400 casings manufactured for biological
use accounted for.
Dr. Bilal’s recent thinking on the R-400 destruction at ‘Aziziyah
and Al Muthanna is at variance with what Iraq told UNSCOM during the
late 1990s. At that time, Iraq asserted that 157 R-400s were destroyed
at ‘Aziziyah and that 37 were destroyed at Al Muthanna. When these are
added to the six disposed of in the Tigris, the number equals the 200
R-400 cases originally manufactured for BW use. Dr. Bilal now contends
that Iraq’s prior claim of 157 destroyed at ‘Aziziyah was based on the
diary of an officer at the range and was inaccurate. Bilal’s assertion
that 60 or 61 empty cases were destroyed at Al Muthanna is at variance
with UNSCOM data that indicates that 58 R-400s were destroyed under
UNSCOM supervision at Al Muthanna.
In March 2003, when UN inspectors departed Iraq, many contentious
issues remained unresolved. Additional issues have emerged from ISG investigations.
ISG investigated these matters with interviews, site visits, documents
searches and material sampling. ISG made progress understanding most of
the unresolved issues, but a few vital areas remain outstanding. With
the degradation of the Iraqi infrastructure and dispersal of personnel,
it is increasingly unlikely that these questions will be resolved. Of
those that remain, the following are of particular concern, as they relate
to the possibility of a retained BW capability or the ability to initiate
a new one.
- ISG cannot determine the fate of Iraq’s stocks of bulk BW agents remaining
after Desert Storm and subsequent unilateral destruction. There is a
very limited chance that continuing investigation may provide evidence
to resolve this issue.
- The fate of the missing bulk agent storage tanks.
- The fate of a portion of Iraq’s BW agent seed-stocks.
- The nature, purpose and who was involved in the secret biological
work in the small IIS laboratories discovered by ISG.
Through an investigation of the history of Iraq’s bulk BW agent stocks,
it has become evident to ISG that officials were involved in concealment
and deception activities.
- ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs up to OIF by failing
to disclose accurate production totals for B. anthracis and probably
other BW agents and for not providing the true details of its alleged
1991 disposal of stocks of bulk BW agent.
- Officials within the BW program knowingly continued this deception
right up to OIF and beyond, only revealing some details well after the
- Those concerned put two motives for the continued denial and deception
in relation to undeclared dumping of BW agent at a site in Ar Radwaniyah:
- The members of the program were too scared to tell the Regime that
they had dumped deactivated anthrax within sight of one of the principal
- Changing the account would only complicate matters with the UN and
would have no affect on the material balance.
More detail on these subjects, where it exists, is included in the appropriate
section of the report.
Decision Making, Command and Control and rationale of Iraq’s BW Program.
Despite access to many of Iraq’s senior political and military figures,
including Saddam, many aspects of the BW program remain opaque to ISG.
Specifically ISG learned very few new details of the following:
- The role of the military and intelligence services in defining the
requirements for the BW program.
- The rationale behind key decisions such as the reasons for starting
the program, the selection of agents and weapons.
- The military response to meet the requirements of a BW program.
- The doctrine for the use of BW weapons.
- The procedures for the release of BW weapons and who was to make the
Research and Development
Genetic Engineering and Viral Research. From 1998-2003,
Iraq devoted increased resources and effort to its biotechnology and genetic
engineering activities, a concern that the UN continued to investigate
until its departure. ISG has talked to scientists and workers in the biotechnology
and genetic engineering fields, and viral researchers specifically. Despite
an extensive interview program and numerous site visits that have included
sampling, ISG found no evidence of activity likely to contribute directly
BW Agent Simulants. The UN deemed Iraq’s accounting of
its production and use of BW agent simulants—specifically Bacillus
subtilis, Bacillus lichenformis, Bacillus megaterium
and Bacillus thuringiensis to be inadequate . ISG remains interested
in simulant work because these items may be used not only to simulate
the dispersion of BW agents, develop production techniques, and optimize
storage conditions, but also the equipment used for their manufacture
can also be quickly converted to make BW agent. It permits maintenance
of techniques and provides continuing familiarity with the process to
preserve skill levels. Iraq continued its work on Bacillus thuringiensis
as a bio-pesticide carried on bentonite, at Tuwaitha after the destruction
of Al Hakam. As a result of interviews with the former staff of Al Hakam
and principal researchers at IAEC, ISG has discovered that this research
also included investigations of bentonite not only as a carrier but also
as means of enabling the speedy production of slurry from the stored dried
ISG has found a number of small IIS laboratories, some containing biological
equipment. There are reports that aflatoxin and ricin work has been conducted
by the IIS into the 1990s and that human experimentation occurred. Given
the historical connections of the IIS with Iraq’s BW program, it is a
concern that the nature, purpose and those involved at these small IIS
laboratories have not been identified by ISG. This is an unresolved issue
that will be further investigated.
Disposition of Iraq’s BW Program Culture Collection
Doubts persist regarding Iraq’s destruction of bacterial reference strains
and isolates. According to Dr. Rihab, she destroyed these materials in
early 1992. Dr. Rihab gave a small box containing no more than 25 vials
of lyophilized bacterial pathogens, including those obtained from the
American Type Culture Collection to the IIS in mid-1991 for safekeeping.
Husam Amin returned the box to Dr. Rihab in early 1992. Dr. Rihab ostensibly
asked former TRC head Ahmad Murtada what to do with the vials. Murtada
took the matter to Husayn Kamil, who ordered the vials destroyed. This
was accomplished by injecting the vials with Dettol™ and then autoclaving
the vials. ISG cannot verify that these materials were destroyed or the
other details of Dr. Rihab’s account. Given correct storage conditions,
ISG assesses that these seed stocks would still be viable.
Anthrax. The UN could not confirm, and in fact its evidence
contradicted, the quantities of anthrax declared by Iraq as having been
produced, used for trials, filled into weapons, and destroyed. The UN
assessed that Iraq probably had greater stocks of the agent on hand in
1991 than it declared, probably for use in the Mirage F1 drop-tanks, and
questioned Iraq’s account of destruction of the agent. ISG has interviewed
most of the key Iraqis who admitted working with the agent, and has obtained
contradictory explanations of the events. The details are in Annex A.
Botulinum Toxin. Iraq’s declaration of the amount of botulinum
toxin it produced, used in experiments and trials, filled in weapons,
wasted during handling, and unilaterally destroyed is derived from calculations,
or contrived from the numbers of weapons stated to have been filled—none
of these figures is verifiable. ISG teams have interviewed principal engineers
and scientists involved with botulinum toxin; there has been no new information.
Mycotoxins: Aflatoxin. The resources that Iraq devoted
to the manufacture, testing and filling of weapons with aflatoxin has
puzzled investigators since Iraq first declared the agent. There is little
doubt that Iraq conducted such a program, but the UN assesses it almost
certainly overstated the production, raising the possibility that some
of the weapons declared to have contained aflatoxin may have contained
other BW agents. There is no evidence to support Iraq’s claim about the
numbers of weapons filled with the agent, and most of the limited number
of staff involved in aspect of the effort have not been located. ISG has
not determined the rationale behind Iraq’s choice of aflatoxin for its
offensive BW program.
Wheat Cover Smut. The UN was not able to verify the amount
of wheat cover smut produced, used or consumed owing to a lack of sufficient
documentation from Iraq. Iraq had stated it produced smut coated with
aflatoxin, but neither this statement, nor the destruction of the wheat
cover smut could be verified. ISG has not discovered any new information
on this agent.
Clostridium perfringens. (C. perfringens)–the causative agent
of gas gangrene—was one of the first agents Iraq examined. Despite its
interest and various fragments of research—including interest in cluster
munitions and an awareness of the use of C. perfringens in anti-personnel
weapons—the UN found no evidence to indicate that such a course was pursued.
An ISG team obtained two vials of C. perfringens as well as one
vial of C.botulinum type B, from a mid-level scientist who formerly
worked in the BW program. This matter is addresses in Section D—R&D.
Ricin. Unlike other BW agent programs, work on ricin emanated
from the IIS, and almost certainly was based on its limited developed
use as an assassination weapon. Iraq conducted a limited weapons development
program until Desert Storm that included a test using artillery shells
charged with ricin. Later Iraq expanded into the manufacture of castor
oil, which yields the material from which ricin is extracted. Although
this manufacture was later abandoned, Iraq retained the ability to restart
such production in volume. ISG has pursued the Tariq castor oil facility
and its possible role in ricin production as well as the security services’
interest in and use of ricin.
Undeclared BW agents—In addition to the BW agents listed
above, Iraq may have investigated variola major (smallpox). Additionally
the amount of peptone or tryptone soya broth (TSB) growth media imported
by Iraq and not accounted for give rise to concern about the possible
production of Yersinia pestis (plague), Francisella tularensis
(tularaemia) and Brucella species (brucellosis). ISG has examined
smallpox and Brucella, but has not uncovered any information on
plague or tularaemia.
Drying of BW Agents
Iraq actively pursued the goal of drying its BW agent for improved storage
and optimal dispersion and inhalation. The UN was unable to determine
whether Iraq dried any of the bulk agents it produced, although it possessed
the expertise and equipment to do so. ISG has found a successful program
for drying the anthrax simulant, Bt; safety of the drying process would
affect its application to anthrax. ISG found no evidence of dried agent.
Bacterial BW Agent Production and Storage
Production Equipment. There are a number of critical items
of equipment and materials normally required for the production of bacterial
BW agents. Iraq was able to manufacture fermentors, separators, settling
tanks and growth media, often of a lower quality than those it formerly
imported, and all of which have commercial purposes. This manufacturing
aspect is a vital prerequisite for resuming a BW program and could lead
to the possibility of making mobile BW facilities. ISG investigated the
industrial infrastructure needed for such activity and the particular
possibility of a mobile BW program. ISG discovered no evidence to indicate
a renewed interest in manufacturing equipment for BW purposes.
1m3 Stainless Steel Mobile Tanks. In
1990, Iraq produced 39 1m3 stainless steel mobile tanks. The tanks are
significant because they were used to store and transport bulk agent,
and with modification the imported tanks could be used for fermentation
purposes to produce BW agent. Al Hakam already possessed eight 800-liter
stainless steel mobile fermentors. Iraq claims to have unilaterally destroyed
19 of the 1m3 and 4 of the 800-liter fermentors in 1991. UNSCOM verified
these figures from remnants presented to inspectors in the mid-1990s.
ISG has identified the remains of 2 additional 1m3 tanks. Thus out of
an original 47 items, 18 1m3 and four 800-liter fermentors are still to
be found. There are 22 items unaccounted for. Additionally, ISG has learned
of additional production after 1990 (see Figure
Al Husayn Biological Warheads. Iraq declared that it manufactured
a total of 25 Al Husayn warheads for BW, claiming to have filled 16 with
botulinum toxin, 5 with Bacillus anthracis spores, and 4 with aflatoxin.
There is evidence only to confirm that sufficient stainless steel agent
containers were unilaterally destroyed to account for the declared quantities
of BW warheads. It is not possible to conclude that all of the BW warheads
were destroyed or that only three agents were used.
R-400 and R-400A Bombs—Iraq declared that it ordered the
manufacture of 200 R-400A bombs for BW, but reportedly did not fulfil
that quota and instead used some R-400 bombs. Iraq claimed that 157 bombs
were filled with BW; 100 with botulinum toxin, 50 with Bacillus anthracis
spores, and 7 with aflatoxin. Investigations by ISG at the Al ‘Aziziyah
site confirmed that by the beginning of OIF approximately 132 out of 157
bombs had been accounted for, indicating that at least 25 bombs remain
unaccounted for. Because all the known physical evidence has now been
investigated, it is unlikely that this matter can be resolved without
the discovery of documents or new testimony from those involved.
Spray devices and RPVs.Iraq showed a continuing interest
in the use of spray devices as a means of dispersing BW agent. The program
started with the adaptation of helicopter-borne agricultural spray equipment
and progressed through experiments with MiG-21 and Mirage F1 aircraft.
In the 1990s L-29 aircraft were adapted for remote operation, but there
is no evidence of spray tanks being fitted to them. The Mirage F1 used
an auxiliary fuel tank as a trial spray system. Iraq claims that only
4 of these tanks were modified and that the original tank and aircraft
were destroyed in opening bombardment of the Gulf war in 1991. No evidence
exists to support the destruction of the aircraft and tank, although the
remains of the other tanks have been verified in the past. Recent ISG
investigations have discovered very large numbers of drop tanks, but none
that had been modified for trials or use as a BW weapon. The L-29 development
program continued up to OIF and Iraq possessed approximately 30 L-29 aircraft
that could be adapted for remote operation. Drop tanks existed for this
aircraft, some in use at the same site that had been used for helicopter