Abu Ghurayb Project 600 ("Baby Milk" Factory)
The Abu Ghurayb (pronounced ah-boo GRAYB), plant in Al-Kindi had been carried by American intelligence as a suspect biological warfare (BW) facility since 1988. The Ghraib Infant Formula Production Plant is located three miles from the abu-Ghraib military complex. Although the plant was built in 1980 and had never been used to produce infant formula, it still functioned in perfect working order with all of the equipment being maintained. The facility had not been changed since 1985 and the equipment was kept in working condition. Although according to some accounts there were no apparent suspicious activities at the plant, it did have the capacity to produce biological weapons from the plant's facilities and from foodstuffs stored at the plant.
SOCIETE D'ETUDES TECHNIQUES ET D'ENTERPRISES GENERALES S.A. ("SODETEG") is a French corporation that is involved in the provision of project management and construction services. In 1999 SODETEG sought compensation in the amount of US$2,866,691 to satisfy an arbitral award dated 28 June 1993 based on a contract dispute with its Iraqi employer. SODETEG entered into a contract on 10 February 1975 with the Ministry of Industry, the State Organization for Industrial Design and Construction ("SOIDC") for the construction of a plant to produce powdered baby milk in Abu-Ghraib, Iraq. A number of disputes subsequently arose between the SODETEG and SOIDC concerning performance of the contract and eventually SOIDC withheld payments under the contract, withdrew the contract and called the outstanding letters of guarantee.
On 6 December 1985, SODETEG submitted a request for arbitration to the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, Paris ("ICC") pursuant to the contract. On 28 June 1993, the ICC arbitral tribunal to which the dispute was submitted awarded SODETEG damages of FRF13,064,066 (US$2,492,191) together with interest accrued thereon against both SOIDC and the Ministry of Industry of Iraq. The ICC arbitral tribunal also awarded SODETEG the amount of US$374,500 in respect of arbitration costs and bank guarantee commissions paid by SODETEG for the defendant's advance on costs. SODETEG contended that it did not succeed in recovering the amounts awarded under the award of the ICC arbitral tribunal as a result of "allied military operations in Iraq". SODETEG contended that the baby milk plant that was constructed under the contract was completely destroyed. The destruction of the plant together with the trade embargo have rendered the defendants to the ICC arbitration a "worthless shell". Accordingly, even if it was possible for SODETEG to seize the defendant's assets, the latter would not have sufficient assets to satisfy the ICC arbitral award.
Project 600 was known as the "baby milk factory" and was located on the highway from Baghdad to Fallujah. Some equipment for a milk factory was installed at the facility and samples were distributed. Based on the level of activity at the factory (which did not make milk) the facility had very high-security including guards and sentries who patrolled the compound, a concrete fence and berm, and antiaircraft artillery emplacements. The Project 600 facility was converted to a BW filling plant. the filling factory was built within the preexisting milk factory. A six meter high dirt berm was constructed around the facility. In 1990, the-facility was ready to fill BW weapons. The Iraqis reportedly were not successful in filling artillery shells with BW agents at this site.
The plant was built as a turnkey operation in 1980. In the late 1980s an Italian firm supplied several fermenters to the facility. The total fermentation capacity of the facility likely exceeded 13,000 liters. Each day these fermenters could produce sufficient toxin to cover an area greater than 60 square kilometers. Efforts during 1990 by TSMID to obtain spare parts from an Italian firm supported the US intelligence assessment that the plant was fully operational. [GulfLINK] The Abu Ghurayb Clostridium Vaccine Plant was believed to produce botulinum toxin. Production was assessed at 15-20 grams per day. The second Abu Ghurayb plant was believed to be a back-up BW production facility and advertised by the Iraqis as an infant formula plant. [GulfLINK]
During Desert Storm the Abu Ghurayb Vaccine Plant at Al Kindi was struck on 23 January 1991, while the Abu Ghurayb Suspect BW Production facility was struck on 03 February 1991. [GulfLINK]
UNSCOM established that this facility was used to store biological agents, seed stocks and conduct biological warfare associated genetic research prior to the Gulf War.
As of late September 2002, the Amariyah Sera and Vaccine Plant at Abu Ghraib was still considered a facility of concern, according to the British Dossier Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. According to that dossier, the facility had expanded its storage capacity. On 16 December 2002 UNMOVIC inspectors conducted an inventory of the site and took samples.
The facility had been damaged in UK/US air attacks in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox but had been rebuilt. The residue from the castor bean pulp can be used in the production of the biological agent ricin.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|