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Cicciomessere Roberto - 8 febbraio 1991
Western suppliers of unconventional weapons and technologies to Iraq and Libya

A Special Report Commisioned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Prepared by Kenneth R. Timmerman


Iraq's chemical weapons (CW) production capability - and its stockpile of CW agents - is so extensive it dwarfs that of all other Middle Eastern nations combined. Iraq may well be the principle manufacturer of chemical weapons in the world today. Its stockpiles of CW and of CW agents rank only one third after those of the USSR and the United States, the only other nations in the world to have declared CW stockpiles.

A recent French intelligence estimate, quoted by the newsweekly L'EXPRESS, identifies three major CW production sites in Iraq, located near the towns of Samarra, Fallujah, and Akashat. Major CW stockpiles are currently maintained north of Fao, at a military laboratory at Balad air base to the north of Baghdad, and in underground stores near the holy city of Kerbala. The production plants, which wer designed, built, and equipped by the Western companies - most of them German - are now producing from between 1,400 to 2,500 tons of CW agents every year, including mustard gas, cynanide, somar, sarin, and tabun. (7)

But even this troubling estimate may fall way short of the mark. DER SPIEGEL reported recently (8) that a German firm, W.E.T.GmbH, built production lines for Tabun and Sarin nerve gas in Fallujah (identified in contractual documents as project 33/85) capable of manufacturing 17.6 tons of nerve gas per day. For 300 effective production days, this plant alone was therefore capable of putting out 5,280 tons of nerve gas per year - more than twice the maximum estimate advanced by the French for Iraq's entire yearly production of CW agents!

U.S. intelligence officials unequivocally identify Iraq as " the most experienced country in the world" when it comes to the production and use of chemical weapons. Speaking in interviews during the Paris Chemical Weapons conference in January 1989, the officials noted that the Iraqis had "solved the production problem, [and] know how to fill munitions. So they come out of [the Gulf] war more experienced than the United States had identified seven fully-dedicated CW production facilities in Iraq.(9)

Iraq weapons plants are now capable of filling a wide variety of munitions with chemical warfare agents, using specially-designed machine tools purchased on the European market. During its war with Iran, Iraq provided ample evidence that it can deliver CW from combat aircraft and by various means on the ground. Known delivery vehicles include Tu-16 and Tu-22 long-range heavy bombers; Su 22 and Mirage F1 EQ5 strike aircraft; MiG 29 fighters; air-to-ground rockets; gravity bombs; air-dropped dispenser tanks; truck or helicopter-mounted dispenser tanks; 122 mm, 152 and 155 mm field howitzers; and longrange multiple-rocket launch systems (the 50/100 km range Ababil system, lointly developed by Iraq and Yugoslavia).

While there is not yet any firm evidence that Iraq has managed to develop chemical warheads for its medium-range ballistic missiles, there can be no doubt that this is one of Iraq's top priorities. The French intelligence evaluation quoted above estimates that a single Iraqi SCUD-B tipped with a CW warhead using a volatile agent would contaminate an area of 100 hectares upon explosion. Use of a persistent agent would increase lethality to 150-250 hectares.

Iraq has also begun developing biological weapons at Salman Pak, a dedicated bacteriological research facility along the Tigris River 17 km south of Baghdad. NBC News reported on April 11, 1990 that Iraq had developed strains of anthrax, thyphoid and cholera capable of being packed into biological munitions, and identified one U.S. concern, the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control, as having sent three shipments of West Nile Fever virus to Salman Pak in 1985. (10) German press reports allege that a small German firm from Neustadt am Rubenberge, Josef Kuhn, has delivered small quantities (100 milligrams each) of the deadly Mycotoxins TH-2 and T-2. (11)

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