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Cicciomessere Roberto - 8 febbraio 1991
(6) THE POISON GAS CONNECTION
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

D. KARL KOLB, or the "SECRETS OF SAMARRA"

Iraq's main Cw production complex is located on a 25 square kilometer plot in the desert 120 km north of Baghdad, near the holy city of Samarra. The plant is managed under the auspices of the State Establishment for the Production of Pesticides, or SEPP, and is run by a certain Dr. Al Ani. A BBC "Panorama" documentary broadcast on October 27, 1986 revealed extensive details of the complex, including a SPOT satellite photograph. A separate CW manufacturing plant was reportedly completed in1988 ata new site just to the north of Samarra. (24)

The "Secrets of Samarra," as the BBc called their documentary, were the type of secrets everyone knows but does nothing about. For the Samarra "pesticides" plant, which was built by a consortium of West German companies led by Karl Kolb GmbH, had been an open secret since 1984. And nobody had been able- or willing - to stop it from producing chemical weapons, despite clear and repeated warnings.

The supply of percursor chemicals is often difficult to trace. Scores of different chemicals are involved, and until recently many were not controlled in any way. As Julian Perry-Robinson put it, "There are so many brokers, so many intermediaries, that it takes a skilled investigator to track these things down. A single train-load of chemicals can change hands six times on its way from the factory to the port, so all trace of its origin gets lost." (25)

But once Iraq began using its newly-perfected CW arsenal in large scale attacks against Iranian troops in February 1984, the warps were off. Tongues were loosed, documents began to be passed around. Within weeks, one supplier of CW technology and chemicals to Iraq had been publicly identified. It was Karl Kolb GmbH, of Drieich, West Germany. The CIA eventually leaked a classified report on the Samarra plant to the New York Times. The Times presented it by saying there was " overwhelming" evidence that Iraq had embarked on a major nerve gas (Tabun) production plant in Samarra. (26)

The CIA report detailed deliveries to Iraq by Karl Kolb and by a subsidiary company called Pilot Plant, which had been sent up especially to handle the Iraqi deal. Among the equipment they delivered were the glass-lined reactor vessels needed for mixing such lethal compounds such as Sarin and Tabun nerve gas. Other equipmet was subcontracted out to a West german company called Quast, located at Inden-Pier, near Duren by the Duch border.

After repeated American protests, Chancellor Helmut Kohl is said to have intervened to stop the supplies in August 1984 (27). But Kart Kolb eventually sued the government, and won. In October 1984, two Karl Kolb engineers returned to Iraq to inspect two brand new poison gas production linea called "Ahmed1" and "Ahmed2" (28). In other words, despite the posturing of the Kohl government, the gas business went on as usual. In fact, Karl Kolb kept supplying Iraq for at least another four years, with little or no intervention from the West german government (29).

"During those years", according to one West german Parliamentarian, "the Americans sent over one thousand "non-papers" to the German government" on the Iraqi poison gas programs, and the involvement of German companies. "They were simply filed away and ignored " (30).

In the meantime, another West German company, Water Engineering Trading (W.E.T.), was identified in press reports of having signed a 20 million DM contract with Iraq in 1985, to build production lines at a SEPP complex in Fallujah, one for tabun and another for sarin.

The contract, known as "Project 33/85", included delivery of 17.6 tons of phosphorus trichloride, a known nerve gas precursor. A follow-on deal was signed by W.E.T. in June 1987. One hundred West german technicians and workers were sent to Iraq to supervise construction and installation (31).

The al Fallujah poison gas plant is located to the West of Baghdad near the Habbaniyah air base, and it is a crucial facility as far as Iraq's independence from any international embargo i concerned. This is where Iraqi chemists are now making the poison gas precursor chemicals they previously had to import from Europe and the United States. Nor only does this huge industrial complex include a vast chemicals plant, but al-Fallujah is where the MPA manufactures most of its ballistic missile fuselages (32). Dozen of European and American companies have contributed to it one way or another, including MBB, Ifat, the Consen Group, Feneberg, and W.E.T.

W.E.T. was in fact little more than a shell company, to cover the private deals with Iraq of two employees of a major West German chemical producer, Preussag AG. Because they had no in-house employees to speak of, W.E.T. had to "purchase" its expertise elsewhere. So it turned to a French chemicals manufaturer, Atochem (a wholly-owened subsidiary of the French national oil company, Elf-Aquitaine), to learn how to handle the extemely dangerous substances it was supposed to deliver to Iraq (33).

W.E.T. also built a small research laboratory at Samarra, where the lethality of the "pesticides" it manufactured in Iraq could be tested on living subjects. In this case, the subjects where dogs and cats, but their resistance to the various "pesticides" made at Samarra was measured in second, not minutes or hours. As one of the German engineers who helped build this particular laboratory remarked later, it was indeed "strange" that such tests on live animals would be required for a plant making only pesticides or pharmaceuticals (34).

Iraq's leaders had a curious notion of human life. Iraqi generals frequently referred to Iran's human wave attackers as so many "insects". As one broadcast from Baghdad Voice of the Masses radio put it, Iraq had prepared "a certain insecticide for every kind of insect" (35).

 
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