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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Subject:  Iraq's Chemical Warfare Capability: Lack of Use
During the War
    The major factors that precluded Iraqi chemical warfare use
were fear of Coalition retaliation and fundamental
miscalculations the Iraqi leadership made regarding how the
Coalition would prosecute the war and how effectively Iraqi
forces could respond.
    DIA has no evidence that chemical weapons were deployed to
the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (KTO). Iraq probably feared
Coalition retaliation and most likely believed that both Israel
and the Coalition would use chemical or nuclear weapons if
provoked by Iraqi chemical attacks. Baghdad probably concluded
that, since these weapons could be delivered anywhere in Iraq,
the consequences of any chemical attack would be too severe to
justify CW use; this may have led to an early decision not to
use chemicals.
    Equally likely, the Iraqis probably believed they would
have days or even weeks to move chemical weapons into the KTO
once the war began. Thus, the Iraqis miscalculated the
Coalition speed of advance; the degree to which their Air
Force, artillery assets, and surface-to-surface missile systems
would be attrited; and the degree to which their resupply
capability would be degraded. The Coalition air campaign
eliminated Iraq's preferred means of chemical delivery (its Air
Force) and made timely ammunition supply impossible. The air
campaign also destroyed all known and suspected CW storage in
    In addition, Coalition bombing heavily damaged Iraq's
command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I)
system. Iraqi commanders could not control their forces, in
part because of an intelligence system failure to evaluate the
developing situation. Allied air superiority established at the
start of the air campaign denied Iraq information on Coalition
force dispositions, making fire planning practically
impossible. The limited information available may have resulted
in a decision not to disperse chemicals within the theater
until the ground battle began and Coalition force dispositions
became better defined.
    Destruction of Iraqi chemical weapon production facilities
quite likely swayed the decision not to use chemicals. Chemical
agents Iraq had produced earlier might have deteriorated in
storage, or Iraq might have miscalculated that its defenses
would allow it time to produce and deploy chemicals later in
the conflict. Loss of its production facilities would have
prevented Iraq from making agents as needed, which was the
practice during the Iran-Iraq war.
    Also likely, Saddam Husayn probably retained personal
control of CW during DESERT STORM to allow more complete
military evaluations. In such a case, the speed of the
Coalition ground offensive together with C3I problems would
have complicated and slowed
     chemical release further.

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