Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IRAQ BIOLOGICAL WARFARE THREAT Filename:0408pgf.90 22 October 1990 IRAQ BIOLOGICAL WARFARE THREAT Prepared by [ (b)(6) ] and [ (b)(2) ]. [ (b)(2) ] The Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center OVERVIEW Iraq's biological and toxin weapons program is the most extensive in the Middle East. Large quantities of anthrax bacteria and botulinum toxin have likely been produced. We believe that these agents have been weaponized and that biological and toxin munitions already exist. We further believe that deployment of BW munitions in significant numbers will take place by the end of this year, if not already implemented. U.S. and allied forces are assessed to be at significant risk if BW operations are undertaken by Iraq. This assessment is based on: 1. Our belief that Iraq has the capability to tactically and strategically deploy biological weapons 2. The presence of significant intelligence gaps including: a Lack of knowledge of Iraqi BW release and use doctrine b. Absence of details on specific agents c. Probable existence of unidentified agents d. Minimal information which specific BW delivery systems would be used 3. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] 4. And the expected mass allied causalities resulting from a successful BW attack. BW PROGRAM EVOLUTION [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] All key BW policy decisions are made by Saddam Husayn. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] PROGRAM JUSTIFICATION Despite signing the 1925 Geneva Protocol the Iraqi's repeatedly violated this agreement by their use of CW agents during their conflict with Iran. During the conflict Iraq achieved military success and has greatly expanded its CW capabilities subsequently. Other than some specific embargoes of CW agent related material, virtually no punitive responses from the world community has resulted. Iraq is a signatory to the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and weaponization of biological and toxin agents. However. their attitude regarding BW is believed to be similar to that of CW which supports its unrestrained development and production. SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL CAPABILITY [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] KEY PROGRAM LEADERS [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] KEY FACILITIES Salman Pak The highly secure BW Research, Development and Production Facility at Salman Pak is assessed to be the major BW production and storage facility. Salman Pak is located approximately 30 kilometers Southeast of Baghdad along the Tigris River. Located at the facility are several buildings. The probable main research building at the site is a modern building, composed of twenty four rooms, housing a major BW research facility. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] facility capable of providing the highest possible level of biohazard protection for the handling of highly dangerous organisms and toxins. Using current technology the research area alone has sufficient floor space to accommodate several continuous-flow or batch fermenters that could produce daily sufficient anthrax bacteria to lethally assault hundreds of square kilometers. Adjacent to the research building is a storage area which contains four munitions type storage bunkers with lightning arrestors. Two of these bunkers have [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] storage of temperature sensitive biological material. Approximately a mile down the road from the research area is a complex we believe to be an engineering area. One building in this complex may contain a fermentation pilot plant capable of scale up production of BW agents. A construction project comprising several buildings was begun in early 1989 adjacent to the engineering area, and is now complete or near completion. This new complex has been assessed [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] as a pharmaceutical production plant. As such, this facility would have an extensive capability for biological agent production. Taji The pilot production plant at Taji which is located in the northwestern suburbs of Baghdad. This facility contains a fermentation plant that has the capability for pilot scale production of BW agents. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] indicates [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] installed a 450 liter fermenter with a dedicated bacterial spore drier at the facility in 1987. An April 1989 TSMID request for purchase of lubricant for the spore drier and recent attempts to acquire spare parts for the fermenter through TSMID indicates that the fermenter is operational. The fermenter and drier are likely dedicated to the production of dry anthrax spores. The location of this facility at a military site would afford the Iraqis the necessary security for agent production. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] Abu Ghurayb Several years ago a facility at Abu Ghurayb. which is located a few kilometers west of Baghdad, was identified by [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] as the location of a BW production site. Based on [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] we believe that this facility is a Clostridium vaccine plant which was completed in 1984. This plant may be a key production site for the bacteria Clostridium botulinum which is the source of botulinum toxin. Within the past few years an Italian firm supplied several fermenters to the facility. The total fermentation capacity of the facility likely exceeds 13,000 liters. Each day these fermenters could produce sufficient toxin to cover an area greater than 60 square kilometers. Efforts over the past year by TSMID to obtain spare parts from an Italian firm support our assessment that the plant is fully operational. Based on open literature and [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] much is known about this facility, however [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ]. Tuwaitha The Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) Facility located near Baghdad at Tuwaitha is likely one of the major Iraqi institutes exploring genetic engineering/biotechnology. For the past several years the IAEC has been seeking to acquire the necessary reagents and material, including state-of-the-art equipment, required to establish and maintain an advanced molecular biology program. Although there is some possibility that more advanced BW agents are being developed by the Iraqi's, we have no evidence that new methodologies are currently utilized for the production of such agents. However, because of its high level of security and scientific research and development potential in the advanced biotechnical area, we believe that this facility is a prime candidate for such a neoteric BW program. Storage Sites As a result [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] we have been unable to determine specific locations of agent or weapons storage. Additionally, we have extremely limited knowledge of the type or amount of agent in storage. CONSIDERATION FOR TACTICAL ACTION RESULTING IN DESTRUCTION OF AGENT STORAGE SITES We believe that any planning for military action against the putative Iraqi BW agent/weapons storage site at Salman Pak or other BW facilities should consider a multiple set of probable outcomes ranging from no release of agent to the liberation of many hundreds of kilograms of live agent resulting in significant collateral loss of life. Unless the total and complete destruction all agent located at a site is an absolute certainty a planner must presume that release of, at least some, deadly concentrated BW agent into the atmosphere in the form of a plume would likely occur following explosive destruction and subsequent overpressure. Depending on the concentration of agent, the elevation of agent plume. and environmental factors such as wind speed and inversion conditions. as little as 100 kilograms of anthrax bacteria (representing less than twenty percent of the amount of agent carried in a single Scud B warhead) could travel several hundred miles. Considering the above factors and wind direction many thousands of fatal causalities could be realized in neighboring countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia. Jordan, lebanon. Turkey, Israel, Iran, and the Soviet Union. BIOLOGICAL AND TOXIN AGENTS Agents believed to be in inventory and weaponized by Iraq include Bacillus anthracis, or Anthrax, and botulinum toxin. In 1988 [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] reported that the Iraqis had already, or were developing anthrax as a BW agent. Additionally, anthrax was reported to be an Iraqi agent that would be disseminated by aerosol. Since 1988. through [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] we have followed TSMIDs search for anthrax cultures. We believe it is possible they are attempting to acquire the anthrax to use as reference cultures for already existing agent stock. In the past few years they have been seeking cell driers and other material which could be used for the production of anthrax spores. Average concentrations of weaponized anthrax developed for the U.S. offensive BW program. which was disestablished in 1969, were sixty trillion anthrax spores or 8 billion human lethal doses per gallon. The incubation period of anthrax introduced through the aerosol route is approximately one to three days. Treatment is ineffective following the appearance of the first symptoms and 95 percent of those that have not been vaccinated or treated with antibiotics prior to presentation of symptoms will die. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] that the Iraqis were developing, or had already developed. botulinum toxin for military purposes. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] has provided information to support [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ]. reported that SEPP sought special incubators and tons of growth media necessary for the production of the bacteria used as the source of botulinum toxin. Additionally, an inferential assessment has been made that the Iraqis have pursued the acquisition of cluster bombs for the dissemination of botulinum toxin. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] revealing that the Baghdad office of the Chilean arms manufacturer Cardoen has discussed parameters for aerosol testing of botulinum toxin with the home office. Cardoen and Iraq are known to be co-producing 250 and 500 kg cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are particularly well suited for disseminating BW agents because they greatly widen the zone of coverage compared to a single warhead. The concentration of botulinum toxin produced during the tenure of the U.S. BW program was roughly a billion lethal doses per pound. The incubation period resulting from exposure to aerosolized botulinum toxin ranges from approximately six hours to two days. Following demonstration of the first symptoms virtually all target personnel will die if they have not been vaccinated in advance against botulinum toxin or pretreated with antitoxin prior to presentation of symptoms. We assess that under the climatic conditions of the Persian Gulf area significant concentrations of anthrax spores would probably persist for no toxin would persist for only a few hours. Additional agents that may be in advanced stages of development or available for weaponization include: Staphylococcus Enterotoxin. Clostridium perfringens bacteria or its toxin, and Cholera bacteria. Although some specific agents have been identified, we cannot rule out the possibility that the Iraqis have or are developing other agents for BW purposes. Field tests with harmless anthrax agent simulants, undertaken during the former U. S. BW program, to determine the amount of anthrax agent required to achieve fifty percent causalities when released 10 miles upwind of a target using a 15 mile release line and with a 10 mile per hour wind was 107 gallons during near neutral inversion conditions; 34.6 gallons during a moderate inversion; and only 6.7 gallons during a strong inversion. WEAPONIZATION The Iraqis possess a wide variety of weapons systems that could be used for the delivery of biological and toxin agents. At this time we believe that dedicated biological and toxin weapons [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] Reportedly, special groups of Iraqi were formed and trained to deploy chemical and biological weapons. The decision to use specific systems will likely be dependent on strategic or tactical requirements. Weapons deployment will likely be in the aerosol form, possibly at night or in the early morning to take advantage of favorable military and meteorological conditions. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] Since the invasion of Kuwait extensive activity at Scud-related facilities [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] that many of these missiles have been dispersed. Iraq likely has an undetermined number of chemical warheads for the Scud in its inventory. There is a possibility that biological or toxin warheads are also in the current Iraqi inventory, [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] Currently we can only surmise as to the Iraqi doctrine for the use BW missiles. The most likely targets for the modified Scuds would be cities, large industrial areas, airfields, and rear areas. If launched from southern Iraq or Kuwait, the missiles can reach Riyadh and Qatar. As a result of the poor accuracy of these missiles, agents with a greater theoretical area of lethal contamination will provide a greater cost benefit ratio. As such, biological and toxin agent have a significant advantage over chemical agents. A modified Scud filled with approximately 200 kilograms of VX is estimated to produce a minimum theoretical area of lethal contamination of one square kilometer. However, under optimal conditions the same amount of fill with anthrax could represent a coverage area of lethally of several thousand kilometers. Conventional Delivery Systems The Iraqis can potentially disseminate biological and toxin agents in a variety of conventional ways. They are reported to have successfully tested shells which appear suitable for the battlefield delivery of BW agents. These shells are capable of generating and releasing aerosolized materials above ground prior to impact without causing heating or extreme pressurization of the agent during dispersal. Existing information indicates that shells of this type have been developed for use with chemical warfare agents, however, the functional capabilities described for these devices appear to render them equally well suited for BW agent delivery. Specific conventional munitions that could be used for the delivery of BW agents are many of the same systems used for chemical agents. Such munitions include 250 kilogram aerial bombs, 250 or 500 kilogram cluster bombs, 90 millimeter air to ground rockets, 160 mm or 240 mm mortars, 122-mm, 130-mm, 152-mm and 155-mm howitzers. Although FROG rockets and air to surface missiles could be used, we have no information regarding the BW weaponization of these systems. Aerosol Generators Aerosol generators which can be transported by truck, boat, helicopter and other conveyances and spray tanks for high performance aircraft provide very effective methods for the line dissemination of biological agents. The Iraqis have obtained dry powder and liquid aerosol generators capable of dispersing hundreds of pounds or gallons of agent over several hundred square miles at rates of hundreds of cubic feet of fog per minute. [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ] Results of a series of marine environment field tests conducted in the 1950s and 1960s during the past U.S. offensive BW program demonstrated that ships not equipped with chemical and biological collective protection systems were totally vulnerable to a BW attack. For example, one field test using a line spray of 80 gallons of Bacillus globigii, a nonpathogenic bacteria very similar to anthrax, extending 15 miles at a distance of 10 miles from a target ship resulted in extensive penetration of the ship by the biological agent simulant. Furthermore, the tests demonstrated that the penetration was particularly high in the engine room and that "buttoning up" the ship and turning off the ventilation did not prevent the aerosol from penetrating all interior sections. Some slight interior and exterior surface contamination took place, however the primary threat was inhalation of the invisible, moving, aerosol cloud by crew members. Based on this and other field tests the predicted causalities ranged from 60 percent to 70 percent if an actual pathogenic agent were used. Other tests demonstrated that dry agent was 10 times more effective than liquid. Although the travel distance of the aerosol cloud for this test was 10 miles, variables such as the use of an increased amount of agent, increased elevation of dispersal, or more favorable environmental conditions could have could have increased significantly the travel distance to 50 miles or greater. UNCONVENTIONAL BIOLOGICAL WARFARE Iraq could clandestinely attack targets by using special forces, civilian government agents, or foreign terrorists to deliver BW agents. The use of such A delivery mode would be an especially attractive option if Iraq wished to conduct such an attack without an official acknowledgment or to maintain plausible deniability. BW DOCTRINE AND TACTICS In the absence of specific information on Iraqi BW doctrine we cannot predict reliably the time or circumstances in which Iraq might use biological weapons. However, based on technical requirements, biological weapons could be used effectively tactically, on land or sea, or strategically, preemptively, on the battlefield, or as a last resort. Information used for the preparation of this paper was in part obtained from original analysis by the authors. Additional original analysis has been derived [ (b)(6) ][ (b)(2) ] [ (b)(2) ] [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ]