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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report


Chemical Munitions—Searching Military Depots and Caches

Reflecting pre-OIF intelligence assessments that Iraq had stockpiled hundreds of tons of chemical weapons, ISG expended considerable time and expertise searching for extant CW munitions. ISG inspected ammunition supply points identified from preliminary analysis of the ‘red-line’ theory–including sites in proximity to units possibly equipped with chemical-capable weapons and in proximity to suspected decontamination activity.

  • ISG exploited munitions at captured enemy ammunition (CEA) depots established by Coalition Forces after OIF to serve as repositories for ammunition captured throughout the country.
  • Teams also investigated other suspect locations identified prior to OIF as suspect CW locations, in particular 11 depots at which possible CW movement and storage activity was assessed to have taken place in the late 2002-2003 timeframe.
  • Overall, only a modest fraction of rounds were identified for exploitation. The sites had been subject to looting during and after OIF, bombing of military installations during the war, and detonation of large numbers of rounds by Coalition Forces.
  • Although only a fraction of Iraq’s total munitions inventory was identified and exploited for CW rounds, a review of high-priority facilities, munitions caches, and locations identified prior to OIF as suspect CW storage or transfer sites, did not reveal caches of CW weapons.

Investigating Ammunition Supply Points

ISG’s investigation of Iraq’s ammunition supply points—ammunition depots, field ammunition supply points (FASPs), tactical FASPs, and other dispersed weapons caches—has not uncovered any CW munitions. ISG investigation, however, was hampered by several factors beyond our control. The scale and complexity of Iraqi munitions handling, storage, and weapons markings, and extensive looting and destruction at military facilities during OIF significantly limited the number of munitions that ISG was able to thoroughly inspect.

  • ISG technical experts fully evaluated less than one quarter of one percent of the over 10,000 weapons caches throughout Iraq, and visited fewer than ten ammunition depots identified prior to OIF as suspect CW sites.
  • The enormous number of munitions dispersed throughout the country may include some older, CW-filled munitions, and ISG cannot discount the possibility that a few large caches of munitions remain to be discovered within Iraq.


ISG began its search for Iraqi chemical weapons by identifying a set of facilities from the nearly 1,000 sites at which Iraq stockpiled or deployed munitions. ISG obtained from CENTCOM a database of 104 ASPs identified within the assessed “Red Line” surrounding Baghdad (see Annex G, for details on the ‘Red Line Theory’). This list was narrowed down to 26 sites using two main criteria (see Figure 6).

  • Reporting of a suspect CW decontamination vehicle, a “Samarra’ ” type water truck in proximity to the ASP—at the time the targets were selected, the presence of these vehicles was regarded as indicators of CW-related activity.
  • An artillery unit capable of firing 122mm multiple-rocket launcher (MRL) or 155mm CW rounds, also in proximity of the site.

The ASPs of the Republican Guard Al Madinah, Al Manawrah, Baghdad, and Hammurabi Divisions were of highest priority because of the units’ trusted status and location during the combat phase of OIF. Exploitation of the 26 ASPs began with a thorough review of all reporting the facilities to discern the status and change in the site during and after OIF , in order to narrow the list of sites to be visited.

  • Reporting revealed 16 of the 26 sites were either empty, destroyed, or contained unidentified material withan imagery signature inconsistent with CW. One site was found to be a duplicate location under a different name and another was removed for lack of evidence. Teams from ISG visited the remaining eight sites.
  • ISG investigation of eight ASPs turned up a wealth of different Iraqi munitions including artillery shells, and rockets. However, we did not locate any CW filled artillery.

Types of ASPs

ASPs can be divided into three different classes: (1) Ammunition Depot, (2) Field Ammunition Supply Point (FASP), and (3) Tactical FASP (TFASP). Sites vary depending on permanence of structures and proximity to forward deployed units.

  • Ammunition Depots are permanent structures located far from the forward lines. They are fenced and guarded with hardened bunkers as well as revetments for open storage. Depots are designed to supply munitions to a large number of different units and as a result contain a wide variety of ammunition types.
  • FASPs are usually permanent structures as well. As with depots, they are usually fenced and guarded and may contain bunkers or revetments. FASPs are meant to serve a smaller number of units and will maintain a limited mixture of munitions. In US Army terminology, they would be equivalent to Ammunition Transfer Points, or ATPs.
  • TFASPs are semi-permanent structures in close proximity to the units that require the munitions. They may be fenced or bermed and contain mostly open storage in revetments. TFASPs function as the immediate supply point for a limited number of units and retain only the munitions required for those units. In US Army terminology, a TFASP would be equivalent to a cache.

Investigating Captured Enemy Ammunition Points (CEA Consolidation Points)

ISG capitalized on efforts by Coalition Forces in December 2003 to begin a program to consolidate captured Iraqi weapons into seven pre-identified Captured Enemy Ammunition (CEA) Depots (see Figure 7). As of mid-September 2004, Coalition Forces have reviewed and cleared a total of 10,033 weapons caches dispersed throughout the country, destroying a total of 243,045 tons of munitions. This represents only part of Iraq’s pre-OIF munitions inventory, and only a fraction of these were checked by ISG technical experts for signs of chemical agent fill. (See Annex H.)

Many of the rounds were destroyed at their original cache locations or at a CEA depot; however, ISG technical experts have been working with CEA officials to evaluate munitions that were returned to consolidation points for storage or later destruction.

  • ISG reviewed CEA inventory lists for chemical-capable projectiles, rockets, missiles, or bombs, and conducted missions to the consolidation points to X-ray, catalogue, and analyze specific rounds for CW signatures. No CW munitions were found at these sites as of September 2004.
  • ISG teams also sought unique munitions identified by CEA as new shipments arrived onsite. No significant findings were reported.

ISG estimates that CEA visits allowed us to review at most about 10 percent of Iraqi munitions. As of 15 September 2004, CEA has identified a total of 10,049 caches (a cache is considered a collection of munitions in any quantity) throughout Iraq. The breakdown of their activities follows:

  • To date, 10,033 caches have been cleared with a total of 405,944 tons of munitions delivered to the CEA points, an average of about 40 tons of munitions per cleared cache. Of that total, 243,045 tons of munitions have been destroyed, and 162,899 tons remain at the CEA points for future destruction.
  • 16 caches remain outstanding, containing an estimated total of 6,068 tons, an average of 380 tons per cache.
  • ISG conducted CEA visits at about a two-per-month rate in early 2004 and it is estimated that ISG experts reviewed about 50,000-75,000 tons of munitions—about 12 to 18 percent of the grand total of 412,012 existing tons.
  • In addition to the CEA process, a large number of munitions were destroyed between OIF and late 2003, when CEA instituted its process. Officials at CEA have been highly efficient in destroying as much as 25,000 tons of munitions per month.
  • Recent data indicate that the grand total will continue to grow. Over the six-week period from the end of July to mid-September, CEA discovered an additional 291 caches with a total of 105,028 tons of munitions—cache discoveries continued to the time of writing. CEA estimates a total of 600,000 tons of munitions is the total tonnage, including munitions destroyed during OIF and scattered about the countryside. ISG believes this number is fairly uncertain, and could go considerably higher in the future as new caches are discovered. We regard 600,000 as a lower limit on total munitions. Using this number, we estimate we visited about 8-12 percent (in round numbers, 10 percent), or less of the total Iraqi munitions stocks.

Although ISG only inspected a small fraction of the Iraqi munitions, we remain confident that we have not destroyed chemical munitions in the process of destroying Iraqi weapons.

  • The US military has high confidence that the destruction process has thus far proceeded safely, with no release of chemicals connected with it.
  • The amount of inspections ISG was able to carry out was consistent with the resources available, and the safety factors involved in carrying out the inspections of munitions facilities.

In addition to the ASPs and CEA sites, ISG undertook a systematic effort to review and investigate a series of depots that factored prominently in pre-OIF assessments of possible CW transshipment activity in the 2002-2003 timeframe. Several studies, based primarily on imagery Analysis at that time concluded that Iraq probably deployed CW munitions from depots to ammunition supply points throughout Iraq as part of ongoing preparations for war. The original list of 11 sites at which activity had been noted was narrowed to two main depots for intensive ISG investigation, including site visits, technical assessments, and personal interviews.

  • Imagery analysis observed indication of ammunition movement Iraq in 2002. Analysis of specific activity—at the 11 depots—raised increased analytic scrutiny and prompted a review of munitions transshipment signatures throughout Iraq.
  • The key indicators to identify suspect CW munitions movement and storage included the presence of special guards, vehicles assessed to be decontamination trucks, cargo vehicles, and the grading of top soil near suspect bunkers.

ISG began an investigation of the 11 major depots by reviewing imagery reporting of the sites to determine feasibility for site exploitations and by subsequent site visits and identification of individuals and military officials who had previously worked there. ISGanalysis revealed that most of the sites were destroyed or looted during or shortly after OIF, and the military officers who worked there proved difficult to locate.

  • ISG conducted an in-depth investigation of the Al-Musayyib Storage Depot—assessed prior to OIF to have the strongest indicators of CW movement—in an attempt to understand the nature of suspect CW transshipment activity there between 1998 and 2002. (See Annex H for a detailed account).
  • Reporting indicated the presence of a suspect CW decontamination vehicle at the Miqdadiyah Depot north of Baghdad and prompted an ISG operation to recover two vehicles for exploitation.
  • The remaining sites were not visited because indicated looting and destruction that prevented the discovery of any munitions remaining from pre-OIF


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