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Chemical Chronology


This annotated chronology is based on the data sources that follow each entry. Public sources often provide conflicting information on classified military programs. In some cases we are unable to resolve these discrepancies, in others we have deliberately refrained from doing so to highlight the potential influence of false or misleading information as it appeared over time. In many cases, we are unable to independently verify claims. Hence in reviewing this chronology, readers should take into account the credibility of the sources employed here.

Inclusion in this chronology does not necessarily indicate that a particular development is of direct or indirect proliferation significance. Some entries provide international or domestic context for technological development and national policymaking. Moreover, some entries may refer to developments with positive consequences for nonproliferation.

Iran is able to deliver limited quantities of blister (mustard) and blood (cyanide) agents.
—US Department of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response, April 1996, <>; "Iran: Preparing for War?" Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst, 3 January 2000.

Anthony Cordesman states that "the Director of the CIA and informed observers in the Gulf have indicated that Iran could produce mustard gas and blood agents like hydrogen cyanide, phosgene gas, and/or chlorine gas by 1987." [Note: Cordesman cites the 9 February 1989 Senate testimony by CIA Director William Webster as evidence for this statement. However, Webster's testimony simply states that "Iran produces the blister agent mustard, blood agents, and nerve agents..." Nowhere does he mention that this occurred "by 1987," nor does he state that the agents where "hydrogen cyanide, phosgene gas, and/or chlorine gas" as Cordesman claims. It is not clear, therefore, where Cordesman received this information–perhaps it is from the unidentified "informed observers in the Gulf" that Cordesman refers to.
—Anthony H. Cordesman, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East (London: Brassey's, 1991), p. 83.

The Alavi Foundation (also known as the Moztasafan Foundation of New York until 1992)—a New York-based non-profit charitable organization that a classified 1994 FBI report says is "entirely controlled by the government of Iran"—starts distributing more than $400,000 to a variety of state-run organizations in Iran. US government investigators believe that some of this money is used to purchase gas chromatography and other equipment in the United States for Iran's chemical weapons programs. The recipient organizations include Sharif University, the University of Tehran, Islamic Azad University of Karaj, and a number of medical colleges.
—Kenneth R. Timmerman, "Islamic Iran's American Base," The American Spectator, December 1995.

According to Foreign Affairs, Iran starts using chemical weapons, specifically mustard gas and phosgene, on the battlefront.
—David Segal, "The Iran-Iraq War: A Military Analysis," Foreign Affairs, Summer 1988, p. 946.

Iran begins to employ indigenously produced CW.
—David Segal, "The Iran-Iraq War: A Military Analysis," Foreign Affairs, Summer 1988.

Early 1987
Iran reportedly uses CW near Basra and Mehran.
—Gregory F. Giles, Iranian Approaches to Chemical Warfare, 15 December 1997, p. 5.

First Half of 1987
Iran purchases some 90 tons of thiodiglycol, a precursor for mustard gas, from a US company, Alcolac International, in Maryland.
—Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 249.

American businessmen Harold Greenburg and Nick Defino made a deal with Alcolac International to broker hundreds of tons (or $1 million worth) of thiodiglycol (a key ingredient in mustard gas) for export to Iran and Iraq. Greenburg and Defino would stand to make 1 cent a pound in profit. Charles Tanaka, an export-import agent in Japan, initiated the deal. Dennis Bass, a special agent for the US Customs Service, intercepts 120 tons of poison gas chemical precursors on their way to Iran from Alcolac International in Baltimore. Bass and his men emptied the chemical drums and filled them with water before sending them on their original intended route to Iran.
—Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 249.

Iran allegedly supplies Libya with chemical agents in exchange for naval mines. Libya employs the agents against Chadian troops.
—Federation of American Scientists, <>; US Department of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response, April 1996, <>.

Prime Minister Mir Hussein Musavi declares that Iran has produced CW, but that it will not employ such weapons unless forced to in defense against Iraqi chemical attacks.
—Gregory F. Giles, Iranian Approaches to Chemical Warfare, 15 December 1997, p. 5.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, reportedly consents to "the acquisition and use of chemical agents."
—Patrick Tyler, "Both Iraq and Iraq Gassed Kurds in War, US Analysis Finds," Washington Post, 3 May 1990, p. A37.

According to Anthony Cordesman, "Iran is able to weaponize limited quantities of blister (sulfur mustard) and blood (cyanide) agents beginning in 1987, and had some capability to weaponize phosgene gas, and/or chlorine gas. These chemical agents were produced in small batches, and evidently under laboratory scale conditions, which enabled Iran to load small numbers of weapons before any of its new major production plants went into full operation. These gas agents were loaded into bombs and artillery shells, and were used sporadically against Iraq in 1987 and 1988."
—Anthony H. Cordesman, "The Military Balance in the Middle East–WMD: Part XIV," 16 March 1999, p. 35.

1 January 1987
Iran states that 400 of its soldiers were wounded by Iraqi mustard gas on the western front. They were transported to a hospital in Bakhtaran for treatment. Iran claims that this is the second time in a week its forces have been hit with CW.
—"Iran Charges 400 Hurt by Iraqi Toxic Chemicals," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 1 January 1987, item number: 0101074; "Iraq Says it Bombed Bases; Civilian Areas Hit, Iran Says," Associated Press, reported in Los Angeles Times, 2 January 1987, Part 1, p. 21.

4 January 1987
Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, today calls on the UN Secretary General to send a team of experts to Iran to investigate Iraqi use of CW. He goes on to say that if the United Nations does not prevent Iraq from using CW in the future, Iran will use any means necessary to prevent further CW use by Iraq. In addition to this message, Iranian officials allow foreign journalists to visit a group of soldiers injured by Iraqi CW near Abadan in late December. One of the wounded Iranians tells reporters that Iraq used CW from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on 25 December. Iran claims that although Iraq only used CW against forward positions in the past, it is now beginning to target rear areas as well.
—"Iran Urges UN Measures against Chemical Weapons," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 4 January 1987, item number: 0104103; "Iran: Iraq Uses Chemical Bombs in Raiding City," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 4 January 1987, item number: 0101096.

5 January 1987
Iran says that five of its soldiers have died in a Tehran hospital due to CW-related injuries from recent Iraqi attacks on its front lines.
—"Iran Soldiers 'Gassed'," Financial Times (London), 5 January 1987, Section I, p. 1.

7 January 1987
IRNA reports that Iran shells an Iraqi CW depot on the western bank of the Shatt al-Arab today, injuring and killing hundreds of Iraqis. Around 20 Iranians are also injured from the ensuing gas cloud after it made its way across to the Iranian lines on the east side of the river. IRNA also quoted an unidentified Iranian official as stating that Iran now has the capability to produce chemical weapons.
—"Hundreds of Iraqis Felled by Toxic Gas After Weapons Depot Shelled, Iran Says," Toronto Star, 8 January 1987, p. A15.

9 January 1987
Iraqi forces possibly bombed their own troops with chemical weapons today, according to Radio Tehran. The mistake was said to have taken place near Umm al-Rasas, contaminating a "large area."
—"Iran Claims Beating Back Iraq's Counter-Attack on Southern Front," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 9 January 1987, item number: 0109189; Martin Marris, "Second Day of Heavy Fighting along Shatt al-Arab," Associated Press, 10 January 1987.

10 January 1987
Iranians claim that Iraq has again used chemical weapons against their troops in the Gulf War, and that Iranian artillery has exploded an Iraqi chemical shell dump. None of the supposed victims were seen by an independent physician.
—"Nasty, Cheap, and Hard to Stop," The Economist, p. 42.

11 January 1987
During the course of a five-week investigation by the New York Times, Paul S. Cutter, a former employee of the US Information Agency who is currently serving a five-year sentence for selling TOW missiles to Iran, reveals that retired Col. Ralph Mark Broman took part in the sale to Iran of 120,000 CW-resistant military uniforms.
—Stuart Diamond and Ralph Blumenthal, "Two US Colonels Linked to Efforts to Sell Iran Arms," New York Times, 11 January 1987, section 1, p. 1.

15 January 1987
Tehran Radio charges that Iraq dropped CW bombs on Iranian troops during a counterattack today against Iran's Karbala-5 offensive.
—"Iran Confirms Iraqi Air Raids on Cities," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 15 January 1987, item number: 0115003.

15 January 1987
John Reed of Las Vegas, Nevada, convicted in 1985 for attempting to sell 400,000 CW-resistant suits to Iran, has had his sentence reduced due to questions regarding US policies towards selling arms to Iran.
—"Federal Judge Reduces Iran-Related Prison Sentence," Associated Press, 15 January 1987.

23 February 1987
Iran accuses Iraq of using CW as a means to beat-back an Iranian offensive. The tactic failed, according to Iran, because of the intervention of Iranian anti-CW units that neutralized the effects of the weapons.
—Martin Marris, "Iran Claims New Gains in Southern Iraq," Associated Press, 23 February 1987.

24 February 1987
Tehran Radio reports that Iraqi forces used CW shells to bombard Iranian positions to slow progress being made by Iranian forces along the front.
—Ed Blanche, "Iran Claims Four Iraqi Planes Downed," Associated Press, 24 February 1987.

1 March 1987
Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC) reports on the end of Iran's Karbala-5 offensive, and cites Iranian sources as claiming that Iraq used CW to slow the offensive. The offensive took place near Basra, Iraq, and lasted from 9 January to 26 February.
—"News Analysis: Iran's Offensive, an Unfinished Project," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 1 March 1987, item number: 0301088.

8 March 1987
IRNA reports that Iraq lobbed shells filled with CW at Iranian troops near Basra today. Iranian anti-CW units neutralized the effects of the weapons. IRNA reports only 3 Iranian soldiers are wounded.
—"Iran Says it Repulsed Iraqi Mountain Attack," Associated Press, 9 March 1987.

23 March 1987
The United States claims that there is no evidence that Iran has employed CW against Iraq. US Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Barker states in a Senate hearing: "Certainly in the Iraq-Iran conflict there is very definite evidence of the use of chemical weapons...[j]ust by Iraq."
Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1988, 6 June 1986, Part 4, p. 2104.

April 1987
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati categorically denies Iraqi charges that Iran employed CW.
—IRNA (IRNA), 18 April 1987; FBIS Document FBIS-SAS, 30 April 1987.

9 April 1987
IRNA accuses Iraq of using helicopters to drop CW bombs on Iranian positions in an attempt to slow Iranian troops advancing towards Basra. Anti-CW units neutralized the CW.
—IRNA (IRNA), 18 April 1987; FBIS Document FBIS-SAS, 30 April 1987.

9 April 1987
Iran's Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Velayati urged the Conference on Disarmament to strengthen the current ban on CW by expanding it to cover the stockpiling, transfer, and development of CW. Velayati states that "The unprecedented level of the use of chemical warfare in recent years has proved beyond doubt that the effective implementation of [an] international convention on the production, use, stockpiling, transfer, and development of chemical weapons is an urgent imperative." He also states that the strengthened ban should include some form of punishment for those who violate the ban.
—Mona Ziade, "Iran Announces New Offensive in Gulf War," Associated Press, 9 April 1987.

11 April 1987
IRNA states that Iraq has attacked Iranian troops participating in the Karbala-8 offensive the cities of Abadan, Khorramshahr, and several villages in Khuzestan with mustard gas delivered in artillery rounds today. Anti-CW units have neutralized the weapons. Iran states the death toll reached 200 and the number of wounded climbed over 3,000.
—"Iranian Planes Raid Iraqi Positions Near Basra," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 11 April 1987, item number: 0411020; Tyler Marshall, "Iran Making Gains but War Likely to Drag on for Years," Los Angeles Times, reprinted in Toronto Star, 26 April 1987, p. H3.

13 April 1987
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati requests the UN to send a team to Iran to investigate Iraq's recent use of CW. Velayati states that the failure of international bodies, including the United Nations, to employ effective pressure to force the Iraqis to halt their use of CW has, in fact, encouraged Iraq to increase the number of its CW attacks, as well as develop more effective CW for use against Iran. He urges the creation of a CW-related embargo against Iraq.
—"Iran Appeals for UN Observers to Investigate Chemical Weapons Claims," Associated Press, 13 April 1987.

17 April 1987
A spokesman for the Iranian War Information Headquarters denies Iraq's claims that Iran has been using chemical weapons, Tehran radio (IRNA) reports. Iraqi claims that Iran had been using chemical warfare were "aimed at covering up Iraq's extensive chemical attacks on Iranian forces in the southern and western fronts recently." The spokesman also goes on to say that although Iran "is quite able to retaliate [against] these enemy measures, its response would not be what the Iraqi regime has claimed." Iraqi chemical casualties could be explained by climactic changes in air currents that worked against the Iraqis in using their chemical weapons, according to the spokesman.
—"Iraqi Claim of Chemical Weapon Use Denied," Tehran IRNA in English, 17 April 1987, transcribed in FBIS-SAS-87-074, 17 April 1987, p. I10.

18 April 1987
IRNA reports that Iraq has used CW against Iraqi Kurds allied with Iranian forces in Northern Iraq. One hundred sixty Kurdish fighters are affected.
—Alex Efty, "Iranians Say Their Forces, Allied with Kurds, Kill 1,500 Iraqi Troops," Associated Press, 18 March 1987.

20 April 1987
Iraq has recently sent two letters to United Nations Secretary General Perez de Cuellar protesting Iranian use of phosgene and mustard gas. Iraq is allowing, for the first time, a UN team to investigate on Iraqi soil the use of CW. Iraq states that it has not allowed UN investigators in the past because doing so would "divert attention from ending the war." However, Iraq now wants its evidence of Iranian CW use "brought to the world community."
—Andrew Katell, "Iraq Agrees to Allow UN Specialists on its Territory," Associated Press, 20 April 1987.

20 April 1987
Iranian UN Representative, Rajaie-Khorassani, voiced his government's displeasure with what it perceives to be a double standard in the UN sending a team to investigate Iraq's claims against Iran without the UN receiving a formal request from the Iraqi government. "Why should we make so many requests on various occasions without any positive response on behalf of the Secretariat and an offer to be made to the Iraqis without any request?" asks Rajaie-Khorassani. He went on to repeat the Iranian position that it does not use CW.
—Andrew Katell, "Iraq Agrees to Allow UN Specialists on its Territory," Associated Press, 20 April 1987.

21 April 1987
Iran's War Information Headquarters states that it will use any means necessary to prevent Iraq from continuing to use CW, unless the UN acts on the issue. A spokesman states on Tehran Radio that "if the United Nations takes no practical steps to prevent the Iraqi regime from using chemical weapons, the Islamic Republic of Iran will consider it as its natural right to use all its means decisively to confront" the problem. He states that Iraqi assertions that Iran has used CW are "mere propaganda to enable it to deploy chemical weapons on a larger scale." Furthermore, he claims that "the weather conditions in the region and also the proximity of the frontline positions in some sectors cause the phosgene gas used by Iraq to seep to the Iraqi positions, and consequently poison and injure the Iraqis themselves." He believes that UN investigators should take this into account and not simply list Iraqi soldiers as "being injured and poisoned by Iran."
—"Iran again Accuses Iraq of Using Chemical Weapons, Demands UN Act," Associated Press, 21 April 1987.

22 April 1987
Rajai'e Khorassani, Iran's representative to the United Nations, comments in an interview on the recent decision by the United Nations to send an investigative team of chemical weapons experts to the region after more than 10 previous requests on his part. Khorassani notes no such requests by the Iraqi representative despite his accusations of Iranian use of phosgene (an unstable chemical that dissolves after being released in the air and leaves no trace) in what Khorassani calls a "false report" to the United Nations. Khorassani states that, "Iraq can never prove her claim because thus far Iran has not used chemical weapons." He also alleges that, "A number of Iraqi POWs who have been involved in the use of chemical weapons have announced that the Iraqi regime has repeatedly bombed the positions of her own troops; because of the proximity of the front lines, sometimes some of their forces in front of us have been bombed and injured." As for Iranian military policy with regard to chemical weapons, Kohrassani claims: "Although we possess very strong proof about Iraqi use of chemical weapons against the forces of Islam, and although the Iraqi regime does not possess any proof of its claim, one cannot yet foresee what the result of sending these teams would be. However, we once again announce: If the international organization does not take any steps in putting an end to the crimes of the Iraqi regime, we will retaliate in kind, and in that case we will certainly announce it."
—"Envoy to UN Interviewed on Chemical Weapons Issue," Tehran Domestic Service in Persian, 22 April 1987, translated in FBIS-SAS-87-078, 23 April 1987, p. I1.

23 April 1987
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati meets with a four-member UN team, sent to investigate Iranian claims that Iraq has again used CW, and demands that the UN do more to stop Iraq from using CW. Velayati complains that Iraq continues to use CW, even though the UN confirmed their use by Iraq twice before. The UN team visits Tehran hospitals to visit those wounded by CW.
—"Iran Demands UN Intervene to Stop Chemical Weapons," Associated Press, 23 April 1987.

27 April 1987
IRNA charges that Iraqi troops have fired CW against Iranian positions in northeast Iraq on one or more occasions today. Iran has launched a new attack against Iraq in retaliation for what it claims is Iraq's use of CW against the Kurds.
—Ed Blanche, "Iran Claims 41 Villages Taken in New Offensive," Associated Press, 27 April 1987.

2 May 1987
Iraqi Kurds are seeking medical treatment for injuries sustained after Iraqi forces dropped unidentified CW agents on more than 20 Kurdish villages last month. The attacks allegedly occurred on 14 April and reportedly injured 450 Kurds, all but 50 of which were civilians.
—Liz Thurgood, "Kurdish Villages 'Hit in Gas Raids'," The Guardian, 2 May 1987.

9 May 1987
Iran accused Iraq of dropping CW on civilian targets in the Bolhassan neighborhood of Baneh province.
—Mona Ziade, "Iran Says Iraqis Used Outlawed Chemical Bombs," Associated Press, 9 May 1987.

11 May 1987
An Iranian doctor, Ali Rezer Albabi, treating Kurdish victims of mustard gas in the Iranian border town of Baneh, tells a reporter that he, like many other Iranian doctors, is treating victims of the Iran-Iraq War. He explains that all doctors in Iran began receiving training for treating mustard gas casualties once Iraq first deployed CW against Iran two years ago.
—Loren Jenkins, "Iranians Detail Charges of Gas Warfare," Washington Post, 11 May 1987, p. A1.

13 May 1987
A UN report released today on what it called "one of the gravest infringements of international norms," states that Iraq continues to use CW against Iran, and that Iraqi troops have also been wounded by CW. The report does not clarify whether the Iraqi injuries stem from Iraqi CW blown back across the front lines to their own positions, or whether they stem from Iranian use of CW. The report finds that Iraq attacked the Iranian town of Khorramshahr at least twice on 10 April. One of the attacks targeted a water installation with nerve-gas-filled rockets while the other attack bombarded a housing development with mustard gas. According to the report, "From the examination of weapon fragments found in the Khorramshahr area, chemical bombs similar to those used in 1984 and 1986 have again been used against Iranian forces, indicating their continued deployment by Iraqi addition, it is most likely that chemical rockets have also been used in this area." The report states that 35 people died in the two attacks. In Iraq, the teams examined three corpses and eight CW survivors and found that they had been exposed to both mustard and phosgene. The team found that the soil samples they took around Basra contained mustard gas. However, the team was unable to find any bomb fragments or craters containing evidence of CW.

Upon the issuing of the report, the Secretary-General states that "The specialists' findings [were] that chemical weapons were again used against Iranian forces by Iraqi forces, also causing injuries to civilians in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that now also Iraqi forces have sustained injuries from chemical weapons must add new urgency to the grave concerns of the international community." The Secretary General goes on to state that the team found no evidence to prove Iraq's claims that Iran had used CW. The UN team that issued the report visited Iranian territory from 22-29 April and Iraqi territory from 29 April-3 May.
—"UN Team Says Poison Gas Still Used in Iran-Iraq War," Associated Press, 13 May 1987; "Iraq Chemical War Cited In UN," New York Times, 14 May 1987, p. A14; "Iraq 'Used Chemical Weapons," Financial Times (London), 14 May 1987, p. I4; "Iran Blames UN Security Council," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 14 May 1987, item number: 0514206.

14 May 1987
The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Larijani blames the UN Security Council for failing to act on a UN report issued yesterday that found Iraq has continued to use CW against Iranian soldiers and civilians. He tells a press conference that "it was surprising that the UN Security Council was still silent on this grave issue." He goes on to say that Iran, unlike the Security Council, cannot afford to be silent on the issue and simply sit at the negotiating table while CW is used against it. Iran is compiling a list of foreign companies and countries that have assisted Iraq in building up its CW capabilities and would release that list to relevant international organization shortly. Larijani further warns that "as long as the Security Council did not condemn the Iraqi attack on Iran, there would be no possibility for Iran to cooperate with the Council."
—"Iran Blames UN Security Council," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 14 May 1987, item number: 0514206.

16 May 1987
The Iranian Foreign Ministry today expresses regret over what it describes as a weak UN Security Council resolution on Iraqi use of CW. According to the Foreign Ministry, although the UN team was unanimous in its findings that Iraq has continued its use of CW, the Security Council is content to issue a resolution completely lacking of "executive teeth" to punish Iraq. The Iranian government denounced the Iraqi attacks as "crimes against humanity."
—"Iran Blasts UN Security Council for its Weak Blame on Iraq," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 16 May 1987, item number: 0516029.

21 May 1987
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Velayati sends a missive to the Secretary General of the United Nations, iterating that "all countries and related international organization must be asked to mount a coordinated effort aimed at requiring the Iraqi regime to declare its commitment not to repeat the use of chemical weapons." It concludes by saying "the Islamic republic of Iran reserves to the right to change its policy of non-utilization of its legitimate right to retaliate in kind, and cannot endure vast human and material damages as a permanent policy."
—"Velayati Urges UN To Act on Chemical Weapons Use," Tehran Domestic Service in Persian, 21 May 1987, translated in FBIS-SAS-87-099, 22 May 87, p. I1.

29 May 1987
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Velayati states in a letter to UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar that the UN should ask all countries to refrain from exporting CW precursor chemicals.
—"News in Brief from UN Headquarters," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 29 May 1987, item number: 0529128.

3 June 1987
An Iraqi military spokesman today denies recent Iranian allegations that Iraq used CW in the Biran Shahr region of Iran.
—"Iraq Denies New Iranian Attack," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 3 June 1987, item number: 0603258.

Iran reportedly has a significant capacity to produce mustard, cyanide, and nerve agents.
—Anthony Cordesman, "Creating Weapons of Mass Destruction, Armed Forces Journal International 126, February 1989, p. 56.

6 June 1987
A New York Times reporter visiting Iraqi soldiers near the front notes that the few soldiers he saw near the front all carried gas masks.
—Bernard E. Trainor, "At the Front in Iraq: Heat, Haze and the Threat of Human Waves," New York Times, 8 June 1987, p. A1.

27 June 1987
Iran charges Iraqi warplanes have dropped CW bombs on its troops in an effort to halt the latest Iranian offensive. Decontamination units are reported to have rushed to the scene, limiting the effect of the CW agents.
—Ed Blanche, "Iraq Says Three Iranian Assaults Repulsed," Associated Press, 27 June 1987.

28 June 1987
Iran claims that Iraqi planes dropped mustard gas bombs on the Iranian border town of Sardasht, killing 10 civilians and injuring 650 more. The attacks targeted four residential areas on two separate bombing runs.
—"Iran Claims 10 Civilians Killed, 650 Injured in Gas Attacks," Associated Press, 28 June 1987.

July 1987
A UN official who was involved in all of the investigations in Iran and Iraq regarding CW use states, "There is no evidence that Iran has used them."
—Andrew Alexander, "Iraq Continues Chemical War against Iran; UN Looks Other Way," Atlanta Constitution, 9 July 1987, p. 22.

2 July 1987
Iran suggests that Iraq may have used biological weapons as well as mustard gas during the 28 June attack on Sardasht that killed 12 and wounded 650. This is believed to be the first Iranian accusation of BW usage by Iraq. IRNA claimed the suggestion came from a doctor who treated some of the victims from the attacks. He cited worsening infections and abnormal symptoms as reason for his speculation. He stated that specialists would be needed to examine the bomb remnants. [Note: Gas gangrene, a common battlefield injury complication, was common among casualties throughout the Iran-Iraq War. There is no evidence found to date that Iraq or Iran utilized Clostridium perfringens as a form of shrapnel contaminant, although Iraq did research the bacterium for use in weaponry during the 1980s and probably 1990s.]
—"Revolutionary Guards Reinforce Naval Bases against US," Associated Press, 2 July 1987.

3 July 1987
Iranian UN officials charge that Iraq's "inhuman" CW attack on Sardasht killed 12 people and left 2,000 people wounded–650 severely. If confirmed, the attack will be the worst thus far in the war.
—Gordon Barthos, "Iraqis Used Chemical Weapons on Civilians, Iran Says," Toronto Star, 3 July 1987, p. A10.

5 July 1987
The death toll from the 28 June CW attack on Sardasht has climbed to 35, according to an official from Azarbaijan province.
—"Iran Says, 35 People Killed by Iraqi Chemical Bomb," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 5 July 1987, item number: 0705004.

12 July 1987
The Iranian evening newspaper Keyhan reports that a drill in the port city of Bandar Abbas, involving Revolutionary Guards, federal and local police, the air force, the Ministry of Health, the Red Crescent, the city government, and volunteers, trained participants in rescue techniques, fire fighting, and neutralizing the effects of CW. The drill was code named "Defending Hormuz Strait."
—"Iran Has Dry Run on Rescue Techniques in Case of US Bombing," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 13 July 1987, item number: 0713028.

21 July 1987
US Secretary of State George Schultz states that the latest Security Council resolution on an Iran-Iraq War cease-fire was designed with Iranian interests in mind. He stated that the resolution's denunciation of chemical warfare and the creation of and impartial panel to investigate who began the war were efforts by the Security Council to reach out to Iran. Iran boycotted the session and has not commented on the resolution.
—Barry Schweid, "UN Resolution Calls for End to Gulf War," Associated Press, 21 July 1987.

24 July 1987
Rear Adm. Harold Bernsen, commander of the US Navy's Middle East force, states that US naval vessels escorting ships through the Persian Gulf would have to man battle stations and wear steel helmets, deflated life-vests, and anti-CW gas masks to protect themselves from Iranian attacks.
—"Aboard the USS Fox in the Persian Gulf," Associated Press, 24 July 1987.

31 July 1987
The Reagan administration today announces it will tighten export controls on 13 new CW-related substances. Five of those substances would require a license to be shipped anywhere in the world, while the other eight would be banned only for Iran, Iraq, and Syria. US State Department spokesman Charles Redman explains that the reason for the ban for those three countries is because "We believe that Iran, Iraq, and Syria are seeking these eight chemicals from Western countries for use in their chemical weapons programs.... The purpose of these new export controls is threefold:

  • To curb the supply of chemicals now being sought by Iran, Iraq, and Syria for their respective chemical weapons programs;
  • To ensure that American chemicals do not contribute to the manufacture of chemical weapons which are subsequently used in the Iran-Iraq war; and
  • In the case of the worldwide licensing requirements for five chemicals, to harmonize US export controls with those of other Western industrialized nations which are cooperating to curb the supply of chemical weapons precursors to gulf war belligerents."

However, unnamed administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity state that there has been no independent confirmation that Iran has used CW.
—Charles Redman, "Export Controls Imposed on Chemical Weapons Substances," State Department Bulletin, October 1987, p. 49; "Administration Tightens Controls on Export of 13 Nerve Gas Components," Associated Press, 1 August 1987.

4 August 1987
US State Department spokesman Charles Redman states that the eight new nerve gas precursors banned to Iran, Iraq, and Syria are in addition to eight other precursors already banned to those countries. The new chemicals are N, N-diisopropylaminoethane-2-thiol; N, N- diisopropylaminoethyl-2-chloride (the latter two being VX nerve agent precursors); dimethyl phosphate (DMP) (nerve agent precursor); 3 hydroxy-1- methylpiperidine (psychoincapacitant precursor); phosphorus trichloride (nerve gas precursor); 3-quinuclidinol (BZ psychoincapacitant precursor); thionyl chloride (nerve agent precursor); trimethyl phosphate (TMP) (nerve agent precursor). Four of the chemicals already banned include demethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP); methylphosphonyl dichloride (DC); methylphosphonyl diflouride (DF); phosphorous oxychloride, all nerve agent precursors. [Note: The United States had singled out psychoincapacitant precursors here, given the lack of open-source reports that Iraq had been using such CW agents during this period.]
—"US Expands Ban on Chemical Sales," Journal of Commerce, 4 August 1987, p. 6A.

11 August 1987
Iran delivered its formal response to the 20 July UN Security Council Resolution 598 calling for a cease fire in the Iran-Iraq War. In the response to UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, Iran outlines several areas where it is willing to work with the United Nations. These include naming Iraq as the aggressor in the conflict, preventing the use of CW, and halting the bombardment of civilian areas.
—"UN Chief Receives Official Reply from Iran on Security Council Resolution on Gulf War," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 11 August 1987, item number: 0811089.

12 August 1987
Iran today reacted negatively to the 20 July UN Security Council Resolution 598 calling for a cease fire in the Iran-Iraq War, saying that it was not "a balanced, impartial, comprehensive and practical resolution." However, it pledged to work with the UN Secretary General to enable the Security Council to create a more just resolution in the future. Iran called the Secretary General's eight-point plan from 1985 as the only "practical plan thus far." That plan called for an end to the use of CW as well as a halt to targeting non-military assets.
—"Iran's Position on the UN Resolution," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 12 August 1987, item number: 0812057.

26 August 1987
Iranian Prime Minister Hussein Musavi today criticizes UN Security Council Resolution 598 calling for a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War, saying that it did not take "a clear stand on [the] crime" of Iraq using CW.
—Ed Blanche, "Iran Rejects Any Compromise in Gulf War," Associated Press, 26 September 1987.

September 1987
Iran reportedly begins supplying Libya and Syria with CW stocks. One report (ABC News) alleges that Iran is supplying Libya with CW in exchange for Soviet-made "sophisticated mines." Libya denies the charges.
—Gary Thatcher and Timothy Aeppel, "The Trail to Samarra," Christian Science Monitor, 13 December 1988, p. B14; ABC News, 9 September 1987.

September 1987
A somewhat different report out of the United Kingdom alleges that Iran was supplying Libya with newly developed CW in exchange for missiles: "Iran has agreed to supply Libya with Iranian-produced chemical weapons in exchange for advanced Soviet Scud-B missiles, according to informed sources in Tehran and Tripoli....The sources said Iran had developed three new types of chemical mortar shells and rockets for use against ships, tanks and troop concentrations."
—Safa Haeri, "Iran and Libya in Chemical Arms for Missiles Deal," Independent (London), 30 December 1987.

September 1987
Iran denies the above report.
—Tehran Domestic Service, 1 January 1988; FBIS, 4 January 1988.

10 September 1987
According to a senior US administration official, the United States sends a message through the Soviet Union to Libya stressing its concern over reports of Libyan attempts to procure CW from Iran in exchange for the Soviet-made mines.
—David B. Ottaway, "In a Rare Joint Effort, Superpowers Press Libya; Gadhafi Cautioned on Arms Deal with Iran," Washington Post, 11 September 1987, p. A33.

11 September 1987
The United States today communicates through the Soviet Union a request to Libya that it not send Soviet-made sea mines to Iran in return for Iranian CW. State Department spokesman Charles Redman does not offer proof that Iran in fact had CW or that it transferred any to Libya, but states that the reports corroborate claims made by Chad that Libya was now using CW in their ongoing border war. According to the Associated Press, Iran has used CW during its war with Iraq – however, it does not offer proof for making that statement. Unidentified US intelligence agents reported observing Libyan and Iranian cargo planes unloading in Tehran and Tripoli, respectively, but could not identify the cargo the planes carried. One official states that "We don't have confirmation that it did take place. We think it might have, but we don't have 100 percent proof." Some unidentified administration officials expressed doubt over the accuracy of the intelligence reports regarding the Iranian transfer of CW to Libya, perhaps indicating why no formal protest had been made to Iran. The Libyans, in a letter to the UN Secretary-General, denied any transfer had taken place.
—George Gedda, "US Asks Libya not to Send Mines to Iran," Associated Press, 11 September 1987; Robert Greene, "US, Soviets Pressure Libya on Mines to Iran," Associated Press, 11 September 1987; David B. Ottaway, "In a Rare Joint Effort, Superpowers Press Libya; Gadhafi Cautioned on Arms Deal with Iran," Washington Post, 11 September 1987, p. A33; Elaine Sciolino, "US and Soviet Protest to Libya over Iran Mines," New York Times, 11 September 1987, p. A1.

12 September 1987
During a call-in radio broadcast, Iranian officials answer questions asked by listeners. One Iranian engineer responds to a question by stating that Iran is now making a variety of war-related products, including CW protective gear. A military official in Washington, DC confirmed the statement but said the quality of the items Iran now produces is quite low.
—John H. Cushman Jr., "Iran Says it is Expanding its Ability to Make Arms" New York Times, 13 September 1987, p. 8.

24 September 1987
The United States has sent 2,000 gas masks to Chad after State Department officials claim they have irrefutable evidence that the Libyan/Iranian mines-for-CW transfer took place. The officials state that according to shaky intelligence, there is a possibility another similar transfer may be in the works.
—Elaine Sciolino, "US Sends 2,000 Gas Masks to the Chadians," New York Times, 25 September 1987, p. A6.

25 September 1987
The Iranian opposition group the Moujahedeen claims to have evidence that the Iranian government has recently built a pipeline designed to transport CW to the southern front. Ali Safavi, the group's spokesman, charges that the Iranian government was also in the process of stockpiling CW near the southern front for use in its next offensive. They offer no proof for their allegations, which appear in any case to be highly suspect.
—Michael Ross, "US, Iran Agree on Repatriation of Captured Crew," Los Angeles Times, 25 September 1987, p. A1; David B. Ottaway, "Mine-Laying Episode Put Iran's President on Defensive at UN," Washington Post, 26 September 1987, p. A18.

5 October 1987
The United States is preparing to send stinger missiles [manportable surface-to-air missiles MANPADS] to Chad in an effort to bolster that country's defenses against Libya after Libya allegedly acquired CW from Iran. The stingers are intended to counter the CW threat now posed by Libyan planes.
—E.A. Wayne, "US Ready to Send Stingers to Chad," Christian Science Monitor, 5 October 1987, p. 2.

10 October 1987
Iraq states Iranian claims that Iraq used bombers to launch a CW attack against Iran on 8 October are "a sheer lie." The spokesman continues to state that Iraq does not use any CW.
—"Iraq Denies Using Chemical Weapons in Gulf War," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 10 October 1987, item number: 1010073.

11 October 1987
IRNA states that an Iranian missile strike against Baghdad was in reaction to an Iraqi CW attack that killed 100 Iranian soldiers and injured dozens more. The soldiers were encamped last week in the Sumar basin, about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad.
—Richard Pyle, "Iran Announces Missile Attack on Baghdad; Iraq Reports Casualties," Associated Press, 11 October 1987; Patrick E. Tyler, "Iran Fires Missile at Baghdad; US Escorts Convoy after Iraq Attacks Supertanker in Gulf," Washington Post, 12 October 1987, p. A1.

13 October 1987
Iranian officials claim that Iraq used a new class of CW in its attack on Iranian forces in the Sumar basin last week. An Iranian colonel reports that the new weapon is more powerful than previous weapons and that "everyone will die if he takes a breath of the poisonous gas." An Iranian report stated that 100 soldiers died and 300 were wounded. Two of the dead soldiers were shown to reporters. They were badly burned and their faces had turned black. The colonel states that "This shows that the Iraqis have used a new kind of chemical bomb which is filled with a very poisonous green liquid." According to the colonel, all soldiers stationed in the basin have now been issued gas masks.
—"Iraq Uses New Chemical Weapon, Said Iran," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 13 October 1987, item number: 1013019.

18 October 1987
US Secretary of State George Schultz states that both Iraq and Iran have used CW, "[i]n the first reported reversal of official US opinion."
—Gordon M. Burck and Charles C. Flowerree, International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 240; for original source see Reuters, Current News, 19 October 1987.

29 October 1987
Iran and Iraq trade allegations at a UN conference on CW disarmament, accusing each other of using CW during their seven-year war. Hassan Masahadi of Iran claims that Iraq has used CW against Iran 17 times this year alone.
—"Iran, Iraq Speak out in Chemical Weapons Conference," Associated Press, 29 October 1987.

November 1987
Anthony Cordesman claims that "Iran seems to have completed completion of a major poison gas plant at Qazvin, about 150 kilometers west of Tehran. This plant is reported to have been completed between November 1987 and January 1988. While supposedly a pesticide plant, the facility's true purpose seems to have been poison gas production using organophosphorous compounds. It is impossible to trace all the sources of the major components and technology Iran used in its chemical weapons program during this period. Mujahideen sources claim Iran also set up a chemical bomb and warhead plant operated by the Zakaria Al-Razi chemical company near Mahshar in southern Iran, but it is unclear whether these reports are true."
—Anthony H. Cordesman, "The Military Balance in the Middle East–WMD: Part XIV," 16 March 1999, p. 35.

16 November 1987
Unnamed US officials state that intelligence reports suggest that Iran has some capacity to make CW such as nerve agent and mustard gas.
—Michael R. Gordon with Paul Lewis, "The Move to Ban Chemical Weapons: Big Strides and Many More Hurdles," New York Times, 15 November 1987, p. A6.

17 November 1987
The Iraqi News Agency reports that dozens of planes have attacked an Iranian facility in the port city of Bushehr believed to be producing and storing Iranian CW. The news agency reports that the attack "reduced the facility to rubble." Other reports from Iraqi military communiqués put the scene of the attack 37 miles away from Bushehr. Iran reports that Iraq struck its nuclear facility in Bushehr instead.
—Nabila Megalli, "Iran Says Nuke Plant Raided by Iraq, Which Claims to Repel Ground Attack," Associated Press, 17 November 1987; Richard Pyle, "Iraq Raids Nuclear Plant and Industrial Facility; Iran says 11 Dead," Associated Press, 17 November 1987; "Iraqis Bomb Unfinished A-Plant in Iran," Los Angeles Times, 17 November 1987, p. 1; "Iraqi Jets Raid Iranian Missile Battery," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 17 November 1987, item number: 1117164; "Iran Says Iraqis Raided a Nuclear Plant," New York Times, 17 November 1987, p. A3.

18 November 1987
When asked to comment on the Iranian report that Iraq had bombed its nuclear facility, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz responds that Iraq actually bombed a CW facility. He adds that Iraq would bomb Iranian CW facilities in the future as well, and that this particular facility was "the biggest industrial complex for chemical products at Iran's Bushehr port." In an Iraqi military communiqué, Iraq did not mention the nuclear facility when it reported it hit a chemical plant 37 miles away from the nuclear plant.
—Lu Jianxin, "Iraq Stresses Through Negotiation to End Gulf War," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 18 November 1987, item number: 1118006; Nabila Megalli, "Iran Compares Raid on Nuclear Plant to Chernobyl; US Experts Skeptical," Associated Press, 18 November 1987.

25 November 1987
The Iranian evening newspaper Keyhan quotes the Iranian minister of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohsen Rafiqdust, as stating that Iran will use CW against Iraq if Iraq continues to use CW against Iran.
—"Iran Threatens to Deploy New Type of Ground-to-Ground Missile," Xinhua General Overseas News Service (PRC), 25 November 1987, item number: 1125003.

3 December 1987
US government officials state that Iran traded chemical weaponry to Libya in return for sophisticated naval mines. According to the officials, the CW was probably a mixture of mustard gas and nerve agents.
—"US Officials Say Iran, Libya Secretly Trading Arms," St. Petersburg Times (Florida), 4 December 1987, p. A10; "The World; Iran-Libya Arms Deal Told," Los Angeles Times, 4 December 1987, p. 2.

27 December 1987
Iranian Prime Minister Husayn Mousavi states that Iran is producing CW. In "presenting the annual budget to parliament, [Mousavi] listed the toxic arms in a long list of weapons that he said Iran's defense ministry was producing."
—"Iran Making Toxic Arms, Official Says," Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 December 1987, p. 1.

27 December 1987
Prime Minister Mousavi specifies that Iran is producing "sophisticated offensive chemical weapons" and has deployed long-range missiles along its front with Iraq.
—Victor A. Utgoff, The Challenge of Chemical Weapons: An American Perspective (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991), p. 82.

27 December 1987
Mousavi was quoted as saying that Iran would not use CW "as long as it was not forced to and will respect international conventions."
—Alan Cowell, "Saudi King Accuses Iran of Hampering Fight with Israel," New York Times, 28 December 1987, p. A1; "Iran Declares Chemical Weapons in Production, Missiles Deployed," Washington Times, 28 December 1987, p. A10.

27 December 1987
Furthermore, Mousavi claims that Iran is producing copies of the US-made TOW anti-tank missile as well as remote-controlled pilotless aircraft (i.e., unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs), and that it will soon start producing fighter planes.
—David Hirst, "Iran Admits Making Chemical Weapons," Guardian (London), 28 December 1987.

27 December 1987
In reporting the speech, IRNA reports that "The long list of domestic productions in defense industry also includes sophisticated offensive chemical weapons" and that a "special section" within the defense industry had been established for their production.
—"Chemical Arms More Missiles in Iran Budget," Toronto Star, 28 December 1987, p. A16; David Hirst, "Iran Admits Making Chemical Weapons," The Guardian (London) 28 December 1987.

29 December 1987
Mussavi modifies his statement of 27 December in front of the Majlis to claim that Iran only has a CW capability: "The Islamic Republic is capable of manufacturing chemical weapons and possesses the technology. But we will produce them only when Islam allows us and when we are compelled to do so."
—"Iranians Back Off Claim for Weapons," Washington Times, 31 December 1987, p. 9.

30 December 1987
The London daily Independent writes that "[p]ro-government Iranian sources claim Ayatollah Khomeini has vetoed [chemical weapons] use on moral grounds but say he is under pressure from sectors of the government and military to lift the ban before the winter offensive." The newspaper goes on to state that unidentified sources in Tehran and Tripoli, Libya have stated that Iran has developed three new types of chemical mortars designed to attack naval forces, troops, and tanks. The report states that Libya would like the shells to use against Chad and that it is prepared to trade 12 Scud-B missiles for them.
—Safa Haeri, "Iran and Libya in Chemical Arms for Missiles Deal," Independent, 30 December 1987; "Iran Denies it's Building Chemical Weapons," Associated Press, 31 December 1987, Final Edition.


Updated October 2003








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