15 March 1990
Subject: ISSUES (U)
1. Use of Chemicals in the Iran-Iraq War (U)
a. In 1982, early in the war, the Iraqis used riot control
agents to repel Iranian attacks. They progressed to the use of CW agents in
mid-1983 with mustard, and in March 1984 with tabun (the first use ever of
a nerve agent in war). The Iraqis continued to use chemical weapons until
the end of hostilities in August 1988; in addition they introduced the nerve
agents sarin and GF late in the war. Iran used chemical weapons late in the
war, but never as extensively or successfully as Iraq. Although the Iraqis
initially used chemical weapons to prevent defeat and to reduce battlefield
losses, they later integrated CW attacks into combined-armed operations
designed to regain lost territory and to gain the offensive. The success or
offensive operations in the southern sector in mid-1988 ultimately caused
the Iranians to cease hostilities. The use of chemical weapons contributed
to the success of these operations. The implications or the Iraqis' success
in introducing CW to the Middle East battlefield extend beyond that region
to the rest of the world.
b. The Iraqis demonstrated the effectiveness of chemical weapons
on the battlefield, particularly the negative effect on enemy morale. Other
lessons also have been learned by Iraq and other Middle East countries:
ù CW is a way to compensate for inferior numbers or forces and to protect
against the loss of territory.
ù Treaties, such as the Geneva Protocol, which prohibit the use or chemical
weapons do not ensure against an enemy's use or CW.
ù The superpowers are unwilling, or unable, to stop the flow or needed
technical assistance, chemical precursors, and process equipment, or to
prevent or stop the use or chemical weapons in a war.
[b.1. sec. 1.5.(c)]
5. Implications for US Forces (U)
a. The expanded availability Or chemical weapons in the Middle East has
increased the probability that any US forces deployed to the region in
either military actions or peacekeeping, roles might be exposed to CW
[b.1. sec. 1.5.(a)]
In combat actions the US forces would face enemy personnel having the
advantage of long term acclimation to the local conditions of higher
temperatures, less shade, and restricted water sources. These climatic
conditions would tend to reduce the effectiveness of US personnel and, given
the insulating effect of the battle dress overgarment (BDO), they would
increase the number of heat-related casualties even if only lower levels of
mission-oriented protective posture (M0PP) were in effect. The need for
added logistical support-of protective equipment, decontamination
facilities, and additional medical burdens--would also have a negative
impact on planners and deployed forces. Of necessity, then, US forces must
be prepared, from initial conceptual planning through equipping, training,
operational planning, and final execution of orders, to operate in and cope
with a chemically contaminated environment.
b. US forces must expect to encounter any of the CW agents
mentioned in section I, as well as riot control agents such as CN, CS, and
DA. To recapitulate, the CW agents include the blister agents sulfur mustard
and nitrogen mustard (either in the liquid form or impregnated on a dust
carrier), the choking agent phosgene, possibly a cyanide blood agent, and
the nerve agents tabun, sarin, soman, GF, and possibly VX (see label Vll).
None of these agents is new; all have been known for more than 30 years.
[b.1. sec. 1.5.(a)]
Medically there are no
antidotes for mustard exposure and tabun exposure is not readily treated by
currently fielded atropine-oxime combinations without appropriate
pretreatment. Another problem that surfaced during the Iran-Iraq war is the
use of multiple agents in an attack. Iraq used a nerve agent along with
sulfur mustard, a combination that led to problems for Iranian detection and
Summary of CW Agents in the Middle East
Sulfur mustard A cyanide
[b.1. sec. 1.5.(c)]?
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