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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report


Evolution of Iraq’s Delivery Systems

Throughout its recent history, Iraq has consistently sought to maintain an effective long-range weapons delivery capability, beginning with its acquisition of Scud missiles in the 1970s and 80s and subsequent modifications to increase their range. After expelling the UN inspectors in 1998, the Regime authorized the development of longer-range delivery systems, demonstrating its commitment to acquiring these potential WMD delivery platforms.

  • After Desert Storm, the international community learned that Iraq had developed CW and BW warheads for Al Husayn missiles, was pursuing a nuclear weapon for delivery by ballistic missile, and had pursued development of a UAV for CW/BW delivery. WMD delivery was a central role for Iraq’s missile and UAV systems.
  • During the UNSCOM inspection years (1991-1998), Iraq embarked on a number of delivery system programs that helped retain the expertise and infrastructure needed to reconstitute a long-range strike capability, although ISG has no indication that was the intent.
  • After OIF, ISG found evidence for several new long-range delivery system designs, but has not found evidence for new WMD payloads for these, or any, delivery systems.

The Regime Strategy and WMD Timeline

For an overview of Iraqi WMD programs and policy choices, readers should consult the Regime Strategy and WMD Timeline chart, enclosed as a separate foldout and in tabular at the back of Volume I. Covering the period from 1980-2003, the timeline shows specific events bearing on the Regime’s efforts in the BW, CW, delivery systems and nuclear realms and their chronological relationship with political and military developments that had direct bearing on the Regime’s policy choices. (These events are also provided in tabular form in the Annex section).

Readers should also be aware that, at the conclusion of each chapter, ISG has included foldout summary charts that relate inflection points— critical turning points in the Regime’s WMD policymaking—to particular events, initiatives, or decisions the Regime took with respect to specific WMD programs. Inflection points are marked in the margins of the text with a red triangle.

Ambition (1980-91)

In the early 1970s, Iraq embarked on a determined path to acquire a robust delivery system capability, and by 1991 Iraq had purchased the missiles and infrastructure that would form the basis for nearly all of its future missile system developments. The Soviet Union was a key supplier of missile systems in Iraq’s bid to establish a liquid-propellant ballistic missile force. Other countries played significant roles in the establishment of related infrastructure. The Iran-Iraq War was a key spur to these missile system developments. In particular, Iraq needed to achieve longer range missiles. Iran could strike Iraqi cities with Scuds, but Iraq could not strike Tehran with similar-range systems.

  • After signing contracts with the Soviet Union in 1972, Iraq between 1974 and 1988 received 819 Scud-B missiles; 11 MAZ-543 transporter-erector-launchers; and other ground support equipment, propellants, and warheads.
  • In 1980 Iraq and Yugoslavia agreed to develop and produce a small battlefield artillery rocket called the Ababil-50 in Iraq and the Orkan M-87 in Yugoslavia. The Ababil-50 inspired an interest in solid-propellant missiles.
  • In 1984, Iraq, Egypt, and Argentina signed an agreement (amended in 1985 and 1987) to produce the BADR-2000—a solid-propellant boosted two-stage ballistic missile with range capabilities up to 750 km. By 1989 deliveries fell so far behind schedule that the agreement, was canceled. However, before Iraq terminated the agreement it received missile designs, two large solid-propellant mixers, and other infrastructure.
  • In 1987, unable to attack Tehran directly during the Iran-Iraq war using standard Scud-B missiles, Iraq performed a simple modification to produce the Al Husayn with a 650-km range and reduced payload mass. At first, producing one Al Husayn missile required three Scud airframes, but this rapidly evolved to a one-for-one ratio allowing recovery of previously consumed missiles.

In 1987, Iraq successfully demonstrated its ability to both modify some of its delivery systems to increase their range and to develop crude WMD dissemination options by 1990, with the Al Husayn being a first step in this direction.

  • After successfully undertaking the Al Husayn modification project, Iraq initiated another Scud modification project known as Al ?Abbas to increase the range to 950 km. The Al ?Abbas reached a range of about 850 km during a flight test in 1988, but the program experienced numerous problems and was not flown after 1990.
  • In 1989, Iraq began researching the Al ?Abid 3-stage space launch vehicle (SLV), consisting of five Scud-type missiles strapped together to form the first stage (a concept using a solid rocket fourth stage never moved beyond the design phase). The Al ?Abid was tested on 5 December 1989 and successfully lifted off the launch pad; however, an inter-stage collapse caused the SLV to fail and there were no further flight tests. The Al ?Abid program continued until late 1990.
  • Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and, in the ensuing Desert Storm, used Al Husayn and Al Hijarah missiles against targets in Israel and Saudi Arabia.
  • In 1990, Iraq successfully designed and tested crude “special” CW or BW agent-filled warheads for the Al Husayn missile. Serial production occurred between August and September 1990 producing a stockpile of CBW warheads.
  • Also in this time frame, Iraq initiated two projects—known as Fahad-300 and Fahad-500—to convert an SA-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM) into a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) with design ranges of 300 km and 500 km, respectively. The Fahad- program was canceled in July 1989 but other similar projects such as Al Rohma (Javelin) SAM continued. Iraq was actually flight-testing one such undeclared program, the G-1, while UNSCOM was undertaking inspections in 1993. ISG discovered other SA-2 conversion projects from the late 1990s up to OIF that probably trace their origins to the Fahad programs.
  • By January 1991, Iraq had converted a MiG-21 into a remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) and had tested BW simulant dissemination from modified Mirage F-1 drop tanks. The MiG-21 conversion program was canceled in 1991, but these initial steps most likely laid the groundwork for future RPV developments.

Decline (1991-96)

Desert Storm and subsequent UN resolutions and inspections brought many of Iraq’s delivery system programs to a halt. While much of Iraq’s missile inventory and production infrastructure was eliminated, Iraq kept some Scud variant missiles hidden to assist future reconstitution of the force until the end of 1991. This decision, coupled with the unilateral destruction of WMD, and Iraq’s intransigence during the inspection years left many questions unresolved for the UN. Baghdad’s prime objective was to rid Iraq of sanctions, which would enable Iraq to develop its delivery system programs at a quicker pace and to make their systems more accurate. Iraq’s fear of Iran’s growing military strength and Baghdad’s concern that inspections would expose its weaknesses to Iran led Baghdad to obfuscate the inspection process.

  • United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 687 prohibited Iraq from developing or possessing any ballistic missiles with a range in excess of 150 km—a restriction reinforced by subsequent resolutions—and established an organization called the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) with the mandate to police these restrictions. In the summer of 1991, UNSCOM oversaw the destruction of 48 Al Husayn missiles, 50 warheads, 6 MAZ-543 launchers and 2 Al Nida’ launchers.
  • After the flight of Husayn Kamil, Saddam’s son-in-law and head of the weapons programs of the Military Industrialization Commission (MIC), Iraq in 1995 admitted that it had intentionally concealed two Scud-type missiles and associated equipment from the UN until late 1991 to prevent their destruction so that they could be used in the future to reconstitute the force. The Iraqi government declared it unilaterally destroyed these items, but the UN could not completely verify those claims and became much more wary of Iraq’s admissions and instituted a regime of more intrusive inspections.
  • Husayn Kamil was the key to the delivery system development process being closely involved in the appointments of key personnel and even run-of-the-mill design reviews. His flight from Iraq effectively ended all work on long-range missiles until 1998.
  • Documentary evidence reveals that Iraq received all of its Scud missiles deliveries from the Soviet Union. The documents also account for the disposition of Iraq’s Scud force. This information, apparently never provided to the UN, suggests Iraq did not have Scud-variant missiles after 1991, resolving a key question for the international community.
  • In the area of solid-propellants, UNSCOM supervised the “destruction” of two remaining 300-gallon mixer bowls and a solid-propellant mixer meant for the BADR-2000 program. UNSCOM also supervised the “destruction” of other equipment associated with the BADR-2000 first stage motor production and declared the BADR-2000 motor case aging oven “destroyed.”In effect, this equipment was merely disabled and much of it would resurface in the program later once Iraq was no longer under a monitoring and verification regime.

UNSCR 687 prohibited chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs but permitted the development and possession of ballistic missiles with up to a 150 km range. Iraq kept its scientists and technicians employed and its missile infrastructure and manufacturing base largely intact by pursuing programs nominally in compliance with the UN limitations. This positioned Iraq with a breakout capability. During the mid-to-late 1990s, Iraq expanded and modernized its missile-production infrastructure and had development programs for liquid- and solid-propellant ballistic missiles and UAVs.

  • Even at a time of diminishing resources and as the economy moved to its late 1995 low point, Iraq supported its missile programs as a matter of priority. This priority ensured that support was sustained up to OIF.
  • Iraq’s initial foray into liquid-propellant ballistic missiles after Desert Storm started with the Ababil-100 program (later replaced by the Al Samud) in 1993. This missile program relied on SA-2 technology and Iraq’s familiarity with Scud manufacturing and was monitored closely by the UN. Research and development continued until 2001 when the program was terminated and replaced by the Al Samud II.
  • Research for a solid-propellant ballistic missile under the Ababil-100 program (later renamed Al Fat’h) began before Desert Storm. This program was based in part on the Ababil-50, with an initial goal of achieving a range of 100 km. Research and development on this program continued through 2002.
  • In 1995, after the MiG-21 conversion failure in 1991, the Iraqis resumed efforts to convert a manned aircraft into a RPV, this time with L-29 trainer aircraft. Research continued intermittently until 2001 when the program was terminated. ?Abd-al-Tawab ?Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh, the former Minister of Military Industrialization, stated that the L-29 had the same mission as the MiG-21. ISG judges that the purpose of the MiG-21 RPV program was to deliver CW/BW.

Recovery (1996-98)

Iraq’s decisions in 1996 to accept OFF and later in 1998 to cease cooperation with UNSCOM and IAEA spurred a period of increased activity in delivery systems development. The pace of ongoing missile programs accelerated, and the Saddam Regime authorized the design of long-range missiles that were clear violations of UNSCR 687.

Iraq’s ballistic missile programs experienced rapid advancement compared to the previous five years of stunted development and concerned new ideas for longer range missiles, some based on old concepts. Given the ever-decreasing effectiveness of sanctions, Iraq was able to consider bolder steps in areas where it still had technical difficulties. If the sanctions regime remained strictly enforced, there would have been little or no effort by Iraq to address these shortfalls.

  • ISG discovered that Iraq in 1997 restarted efforts to convert SA-2 SAMs into ballistic missiles, which contravened an UNSCOM letter restricting this kind of work. This project was canceled in 1998 but probably restarted in 2000 with the Sa’d project to create a 250-km-range missile. Research for the Sa’d project continued up to the time UN inspectors returned in 2002.
  • According to a former engineer within the Iraqi missile program, in 1997 or 1998 during a monthly Ballistic Missile Committee meeting, Huwaysh openly stated he wanted a missile with a range of 1,000 km.
  • According to Kamal Mustafa ?Abdallah Sultan Al Nasiri, a former Secretary General of the Republican Guard (SRG), in the summer of 1999, Huwaysh, in a speech to SRG and Republican Guard members, promised that the range of an unspecified missile system would be extended to 500 km, though this would take five years to accomplish.
  • Iraq began flight-testing the Al Fat’h in 2000 and continued through 2002, but Iraq was not able to acquire or develop a suitable guidance system. Iraq began deploying unguided Al Fat’h missiles to the army in late 2001.
  • In 1999-2000 the Iraqis began developing the Al ?Ubur SAM system, which would use a modified, longer Al Fat’h rocket motor. Iraq considered, but did not pursue, using the Al ?Ubur motor in a single-stage ballistic missile that could have exceeded 200 km in range.
  • After 2000-2001, Iraq began an effort to extend the shelf life of FROG-7 (LUNA) and Ababil-50 rockets by replacing their aging double-base solid rocket motors with composite solid-propellant, which also improved the performance of these rockets. Renamed Al Ra’d and Al Nida’, respectively, these efforts helped advance the composite solid-propellant manufacturing infrastructure in Iraq.
  • Around 2000, Saddam ordered the development of longer range missiles. In response, Huwaysh asked his missile scientists to see what was feasible. Drawings dated August 2000 show two missiles using a cluster of either two or five SA-2 engines. These designs could have resulted in missiles with maximum ranges of about 500 and 1,000 km, but the designs did not move forward because the program lacked written authorization from Saddam.
  • Following Huwaysh’s orders, Iraq pursued efforts to develop a long-range (400-1,000 km) solid-propellant ballistic missile. Source accounts give various dates for this event, but it was most likely spring 2000. Initial concepts included using a cluster of Al Fat’h motors or developing a larger diameter motor. Iraq also pursued a motor with a diameter of 0.8 or one meter for use in a single-stage missile. Iraq attempted to use a barrel section from the pre-1991 Supergun project to create a prototype one-meter-diameter solid rocket motor, but the effort failed because of material incompatibilities when Iraqi technicians tried to weld the Supergun section to the motor end-dome.
  • In 2001 the Al Samud II replaced the Al Samud program because of instability problems. Flight tests began in August 2001, and the Al Samud II was deployed to the Army in December 2001.

Iraq after 1998 continued with its HY-2 modification efforts with the HY-2 range extension project and started a completely new effort to increase the range of the HY-2 cruise missile to 1,000 km.

  • The first effort was a straightforward project that replaced the existing rocket propulsion system with one that used a higher energy fuel. This change allowed an increase in range to greater than 150 km. According to one Iraqi scientist, the first successful flight test of the extended-range HY-2 occurred in August 1999. Huwaysh commented that a extended-range HY-2 may have been fired during OIF, targeting Kuwait.
  • The second effort began in late 2001 when the Office of the President suggested to MIC that it develop a 1,000-km-range cruise missile. This project, later named Jinin, would attempt to replace the HY-2’s liquid-propellant rocket engine with a modified helicopter turboshaft engine to extend its range to 1,000 km. Work began in 2002, and Iraq had conducted some engine-related tests by the time UN inspectors returned. At that time, one official working on the project judged it was three to five years from completion.

Concurrent with the failures of the L-29 RPV program, Iraq began in 2000 to pursue new, long-range UAV options.

  • Iraq remained interested in UAVs, and the MIC ordered the development of indigenous reconnaissance UAVs and target drones. Iraq’s Ibn-Firnas group after 1998 developed the Al Musayara-20 UAV as a battlefield reconnaissance UAV.
  • Iraq began a second, more secret, indigenous UAV development program in early 2000, called Al Quds, which would focus on meeting military requirements for airborne electronic warfare programs. However the Al Quds UAVs were still in development at the start of OIF.

Delivery system-related procurement expanded in late 1998 after the departure of the UN inspectors. Iraq also hired outside expertise to assist its development programs. Money was pouring into Iraq’s delivery system programs, and Iraqi front companies took advantage of the freedom to operate without UN oversight.

  • Iraq hired technicians and engineers from Russian companies to review the designs and assist development of the Al Samud II, perhaps contributing to its rapid evolution.
  • Iraq entered into negotiations with North Korean and Russian entities for more capable missile systems. Iraq and North Korea in 2000 discussed a 1,300-km-range missile, probably the No Dong, and in 2002 Iraq approached Russian entities about acquiring the Iskander-E short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
  • According to contract information, Iraq imported at least 380 SA-2/Volga liquid-propellant engines from Poland and possibly Russia or Belarus. Iraq claims these engines were for the Al Samud II program, but the numbers involved appear far in excess of immediate requirements, suggesting they could have supported the longer range missiles using clusters of SA-2 engines. Iraq also imported missile guidance and control systems from entities in Belarus, Russia and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).

Miscalculation (2002-2003)

The next move of the Regime commenced with Saddam’s ill-conceived reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, allowing him to be aligned with the “Axis of Evil.” In late 2002, Iraq was under increasing pressure from the international community to allow UN inspectors to return. Iraq in November accepted UNSCR 1441 and invited UN inspectors back into the country. That December, Iraq presented to the UN its Currently Accurate, Full, and Complete Declaration (CAFCD). The CAFCD was largely a repeat of old information, but it did provide details on the Al Samud II, Al Fat’h, and new missile-related facilities.

  • After Iraq disclosed in its CAFCD that, on at least 13 occasions, its Al Samud II missile had reached ranges beyond 150 km, the UN put a stop to Al Samud II flight-testing until they could further assess the system’s capabilities. UNMOVIC convened a panel of missile experts in February 2003, which concluded that the Al Samud II violated UN statutes, and, therefore, the program should be frozen and the missiles destroyed. Beginning in March, UNMOVIC supervised the destruction of 72 missiles and the disablement of 3 launchers. The missile destruction program was incomplete when the inspectors left in mid-March, leaving Iraq with Al Samud II missiles that could be used against Coalition forces. Iraq launched approximately five Al Samud II missiles against Coalition forces during OIF before the system was recalled due to failures.
  • The Al Karamah State Establishment, later known as Al Karamah General Company, detailed design work for long-range missiles using SA-2 engine clusters through 2002. Huwaysh claimed that he ordered one copy of these designs be given to him and that all other evidence of the program destroyed to avoid detection by UNMOVIC inspectors.
  • The Sa’d SA-2 conversion project, researched by Al Kindi State Establishment, was abandoned prior to the arrival of UN inspectors. ISG learned, however, that another group embarked on a crash program to convert SA-2s to SSMs after UNMOVIC inspectors departed. Two SA-2s were converted but never fired.
  • Iraq declared that its Al Fat’h missile had exceeded 150 km during flight tests to the UN. As with the Al Samud II missile, the UN ordered that Iraq cease all flight tests of the system until they could further evaluate the system’s capabilities. By the start of OIF, a guided version of the Al Fat’h was within weeks of flight-testing. Even without a guidance system, the Al Fat’h proved itself to be a viable weapon system, and the Iraqi Army fired between 12 and 16 missiles during OIF.
  • Iraq’s small UAV programs had demonstrated some success, including an autonomous 500-km flight, and given time most likely would have produced larger UAVs with greater payload capabilities. The evidence uncovered by ISG suggests that the UAV programs active at the onset of OIF were intended for reconnaissance or electronic warfare.

The CAFCD and UNMOVIC inspections provided a brief glimpse into what Iraq had accomplished in four years without an international presence on the ground. Given Iraq’s investments in technology and infrastructure improvements, an effective procurement network, skilled scientists, and designs already on the books for longer range missiles, ISG assesses that, absent UN oversight, Saddam clearly intended to reconstitute long-range delivery systems, potentially for WMD.

  • Iraq constructed a new liquid-rocket engine test stand that was larger and more capable than the existing engine test stand. The new stand, with modifications, would have been able to support tests of more powerful engines or clusters of engines. Although ISG found no evidence that tests of more powerful engines had occurred, Iraq had clearly begun to establish the infrastructure to support such tests in the future.
  • Iraq undertook efforts to improve its composite solid-propellant infrastructure. Iraq repaired one of the two 300-gallon mixers and two bowls from the BADR-2000 program and tried to repair the second mixer, although reports vary as to the success. According to two former Iraqi officials, the mixer was used for a short time in 2002 and then dismantled before UN inspectors returned. In addition, Iraq built an annealing chamber capable of handling rocket motor cases with diameters greater than one meter. Other infrastructure improvements included new, larger diameter casting chambers and a significant increase in propellant component production capabilities.
  • Iraq studied new propellants and manufacturing technologies demonstrating its desire for more capable or effective delivery systems. For example, a liquid-propellant rocket engine test on 18 March 2001 used AZ-11 fuel instead of the usual TG-02, in an effort to enhance the engine’s performance. ISG learned that a Liquid Fuels Committee was established in August 2000 to research the performance capabilities for various propellants and techniques for producing candidate propellants or precursors, some advanced up to pilot scale.


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