Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report

 

Iraq’s Chemical Warfare Program
Annex D


 

Tariq Company’s Activities

The Tariq Company, also referred to as the Tariq Facility and formerly the Tariq State Establishment, encompassed several facilities near Fallujah including a headquarters complex; Fallujah I, Fallujah II, and Fallujah III (also known as Habbaniyah III, II, and I); a research site in Baghdad referred to as the “Baghdad site”; and several storage locations. Tariq was subordinate to the former Muthanna State Establishment (MSE) chemical weapons (CW) research, production and storage facility near Samarra before it was destroyed. It has a long history of ties to Iraq’s CW program, and throughout the 1990s continued to house key CW scientists and maintain basic capabilities to produce at least some CW precursor chemicals. Iraq renovated key processes and reinitiated production of basic chemicals in 2000.

  • Tariq chemical facilities were designed to be, and in the case of Fallujah II previously used as, CW precursor production plants.
  • Fallujah II, while under previous state ownership, produced nerve agent and sulfur mustard precursors for MSE in the late 1980s.
  • Tariq as of 2002 employed some of the more influential personalities associated with Iraq’s former CW production programs.

In an effort to determine the nature and extent of Tariq’s activities after 1991, ISG conducted a series of site visits, interviews with key personnel, and document exploitation. Teams focused on evaluating activities of the two active Fallujah plants and questioning the former CW scientists, many of whom had held important positions in the former CW program, about their efforts at Tariq after the Gulf war.

Based on these investigations, ISG assesses that the Tariq Company did not provide Iraq with a break-out capability for nerve agent production.

  • Pesticide (Formerly Fallujah III): Instead of synthesizing precursors and pesticides on site and in Iraq, Tariq imported concentrated commercial pesticides for formulation, repackaging, and local distribution.
  • Chlorine/Phenol Plant (Formerly Fallujah II): Leading up to OIF, this plant was not fully operational, and was unlikely to have provided any basic chemicals such as chlorine or phenol to an Iraqi CW effort. Because of technical problems, the plant could not even supply local markets with its products.
  • One of Tariq’s labs, the Baghdad Research Laboratory, was closed at an unknown date, according to interviews with Huwaysh, and he stated its employees did not participate in any CW-related research while it was open. Other ISG interviews indicate that the lab may have engaged in defensive nerve agent detector research.

As of 2001 or 2002, Tariq scientists were still regarded by members of the Regime as CW experts. When Saddam asked in 2001 or 2002 for an estimate of how long it would take to build a production line for CW, Huwaysh approached a team of Tariq scientists to answer the question, according to an ISG interview with Huwaysh.

  • Huwaysh’s expert team included a number of Tariq employees, such as former directors Ghazi Faisal and Zuhair al-Qazzaz, according to the same interview.

We are considering the possibility that Huwaysh confused the details and actually was referring to a similar incident involving him that occurred in 1997. In the latter case, Huwaysh—not Saddam—reportedly initiated a query about how Iraq’s CW capability would be limited by an UNSCOM-ordered destruction of dual-use equipment rather than how quickly production could be restarted.

Dual-Use Facilities

Pesticide (Formerly Fallujah III)

Instead of synthesizing precursors and pesticides on site and in Iraq, Tariq imported concentrated commercial pesticides for formulation, repackaging, and local distribution.

  • ISG interviews of a senior scientist revealed that around 50 tons per year of the pesticide Nugoz was imported, sometimes using false customs declarations.
  • A research scientist stated that while Tariq formulated a large list of commercial pesticides, the company did not produce pesticides at greater than laboratory scale, which he attributed to a lack of glass-lined equipment available in Tariq.

Castor Oil Production (Formerly Fallujah III)

Castor oil was also produced at Tariq from 1992 until 2002, but ISG investigations did not uncover any indication that the ricin-containing mash was further processed or transferred off-site for any purpose. According to interviews with Tariq officials, they complied with UNSCOM regulations by burning the residual castor bean mash in pits near the Fallujah III facility.

Castor oil production ended in 2002 because of rising prices of castor beans and decreasing customer interest. Two companies interested in purchasing Tariq’s castor oil were Ibn Al-Baytar and Samarra Drug Industries, but ultimately neither company purchased Tariq’s oil because its process used solvent extraction and rendered the oil unfit for pharmaceutical and medical uses, according to the same interviews.

  • An ISG site visit indicated that the castor oil extraction plant appeared to be undamaged, but there was no evidence of any current activity. All of the surrounding buildings were empty, possibly because of looters.
  • Tariq’s castor bean supplier, the Company for Industrial Forests, had raised its prices from 60,000 to 400,000 Iraqi dinars per ton (from US $38 to $250) in 2002, and predicted that prices would increase to 700,000 dinars ($438) the next year, according to the same interviews.

Former CW Personnel Employed by Tariq

Tariq employed a large number of CW scientists and engineers from Muthanna State Establishment, especially within upper management of the company, throughout the 1990s and up to March 2003:

  • Dr. Ghazi Faysal: Worked to build Tariq under the OMI after MSE was destroyed in the first Gulf war. Served as the director of Tariq until moving to al-Basel center.
  • Dr. Iyad Muhammad Rashid Rauf: Deputy General Director for the Tariq facility. Iyad Rashid researched nerve agent production in the Salah ad Din Research Department of MSE.
  • Husayn Shamki: Tariq research scientist.
  • Ihsen Abd al-Amir: Tariq research scientist.
  • Issam Daud Faysal:Formerly of the Al Karama Facility. Involved in quality control at MSE.
  • Brig.Eng. Hayder Hassan Taha: Director of the Chlorine factory at Tariq; previously worked as a chemical engineer in the Project Directorate in Al-Muthana State Co.
  • Staff Colonel Ra’d Manhal: Commercial and Planning director and NMD point of contact at Tariq, former director of the MSE munitions filling station.

Chlorine (Formerly Fallujah II)

Chlorine, a feedstock for some CW precursors, was produced at Tariq from 1993 to 1996,and sporadically thereafter; however, ISG has not discovered any information that indicates chlorine from the plant was diverted to a CW program. During an ISG site visit, the director of the phenol plant stated that chlorine production had stopped months before OIF. Reporting indicates the facility was unable to obtain membranes—the key component of the technology at Tariq—to separate the chlorine.

  • Members of the site visit team noted that membranes, probably older, used ones, were stacked by the roadside close to the northwest entrance. The director stated that they had been moved here to protect them in the event that the plant was bombed.
  • Chlorine from the plant was sold to local sanitation plants and also consumed onsite to produce other commercial water purification compounds such as sodium hypochlorite and calcium hypochlorite, which were sold for water treatment, according to the director.

Technical difficulties with the process resulted in lower production outputs from 1996 until 2000. According to the director, the chlorine cells had been broken for several months and control valves, main instrumentation control panels and a step down transformer were missing.

In 1999, the Indian firm NEC Engineers Private, Ltd., was recruited to begin repairing the chlorine production lines, according to multiple sources. The plant director during the interview said NEC constructed the membrane cell equipment that would be use to produce chlorine and caustic soda, but one of the membranes was second-hand and perforated easily, which caused further problems with the operation.

  • Once the project was completed, operational training in India was scheduled for the plant engineers in, according to documents recovered by ISG.
  • Tariq, along with MIC employees and a representative from Iraqi Intelligence, formed a committee to conceal imports from India’s NEC engineers during a chlorine plant repair, according to documents recovered by ISG.

By March 2000, with help from the Indian firm NEC Engineers, the chlor-alkali plant was brought back on-line. On 02 July 2003, neither the chlorine nor the phenol plants at Fallujah II were in working order. With little likelihood of any production in the near future, few employees were at the facility.

Phenol (Formerly Fallujah II)

Since its 1995 commissioning, UNSCOM was suspicious of the true nature of Tariq’s phenol plant because of its proximity to Tariq’s chlorine plant and a lack of details about modifications performed at the plant. As of OIF, the plant was no longer in operation, according to an ISG site visit and interviews with the director of the plant; the temperature control equipment was broken, as had been the case for some years, and was one of the reasons for the plant’s low production levels.

  • According to the plant director, the phenol had mostly been for al-Ramadi facility, where it was converted into a resin, used for making molds.
  • ISG visited a resin facility north of Baghdad in March 2004, and observed that this large phenol consumer did not use indigenously produced phenol from the Tariq facility; rather, they imported phenol from South Africa, with UN permission.
  • Additional processes at the phenol plant included a small azeotropic ethanol distillation unit, recovered from Al Muthanna. The purified ethanol was then sent to SDI and hospitals for pharmaceutical purposes, according to the director.
  • In addition to a large list of industrial uses including resin and fiberglass production, phenol could also be used as a starting block for cyclohexanol, one component of cyclosarin, when reacted catalytically with chlorine. Cylcohexanol can also be synthesized from benzene, a much cheaper and more abundant chemical in Iraq, but we have no information that indicates Iraq used either process to produce cyclohexanol.

Research Activities

We assess the bulk of the Tariq’s research throughout the 1990s—formulation and stability of pesticides—was legitimate and not CW related; however, a limited amount of defensive work with nerve agent simulants, and even gram-scale synthesis of agent may have occurred.

  • A research scientist reported that a typical formulation research project included evaluation of the following factors: literature research on pesticides; availability and ease of import of raw concentrated ingredient, emulsifiers, and stabilizers within Iraq; stability testing and physical properties testing of formulated product over time and temperature ranges; and field testing with 500 kg pilot-scale batches.
  • The scientist confirmed to ISG that malathion, dichlorovos and 2,4-D amine, the amine salt of 2,4-D, had all been synthesized on a laboratory scale.

Because of feared repercussions and the awareness of the dual-use nature of Tariq’s products, officials at Tariq were often reported as hesitant to allow or support research that could be considered CW-applicable by the international community.

  • Ghazi Faisal had instructed the researchers to avoid synthesis of organophosphorus compounds as it might cause them difficulties with the UN, according to ISG interviews with Tariq scientists, and a senior scientist claimed he did not know of any synthesis of phosphorus based compounds.
  • Huwaysh stated that he went out of his way to make sure that no CW research was going on, even to the point of canceling the Tariq research center in Baghdad.

Tariq, in addition to its own research for industrial processes, also bid for and won research contracts from the IIC list of 1,000 chemicals, none of which were phosphorus-related. Tariq’s research and development department routinely reported the progress of these projects to Hamza Yassin, chief of chemical research and development at the OMI, according to reporting.

  • Tariq researchers evaluated scale-up feasibility of the following industrial chemicals: benzyl alcohol, acetyl chloride, sodium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide, ortho-chloroanaline, calcine, ferrous chloride, and mono-chloro acetic acid.

Tariq scientists have also participated in CW defensive research, including the development of suitable nerve agent simulants for military training purposes and possible gram-scale production of VX standards for testing detectors and studying its degradation products.

  • A senior scientist, when asked about military equipment at Tariq, immediately mentioned a Russian-made detection system brought to the site by another senior scientist and used in simulant research.
  • A research scientist described larger-scale simulant research project in 2002 that had been directed by a presidential order. The research group produced 1,000 liters of Tariq One—Nogoz as a nerve agent simulant, and Tariq Two—diethyl amine as a nitrogen mustard simulant. The compounds were colored with dye, and thickened with a polymer. He asserted that any symptoms from the formulated pesticides would pass within a half hour, according to ISG interviews with him.

 



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