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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraqi Biological Weapons

As of October 2002 the US judgement was that all key aspects - R&D, production, and weaponization - of Iraq's offensive BW program were active and that most elements were larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf war. Iraq was assessed as having some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and being capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives.

The Iraq Survey Group found a network of laboratories and safehouses controlled by Iraqi intelligence and security services that contained equipment for chemical and biological research and a prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing for Biological Weapon agents, that were not declared to the UN. It also appears that Iraq had the infrastructure and talent to resume production.

In a briefing for journalists reported on October 29, 2003, the director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency said satellite images showed a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria just before the American invasion in March 2003. Retired Air Force Lieutenant General James Clapper Jr. said he believed "unquestionably" that illicit weapons material was transported into Syria and perhaps other countries. He said "I think people below the Saddam- Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse. ... I think probably in the few months running up to the onset of the conflict, I think there was probably an intensive effort to disperse into private hands, to bury it, and to move it outside the country's borders."

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph published on January 25, 2004, Dr. David Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group, said there was evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before the start of the war to overthrow Saddam. "We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."

As of October 2002 the US intelligence community believed that Baghdad had mobile facilities for producing bacterial and toxin BW agents; these facilities can evade detection and are highly survivable. Within three to six months these units probably could produce an amount of agent equal to the total that Iraq produced in the years prior to the Gulf War. Some of the information about the mobile labs came from an Iraqi defector working with another government who was never interviewed by American intelligence. In his 05 February 2003 presentation to the UN Security Council Secretary of State Colin Powell said that "firsthand descriptions" had come from an Iraqi chemical engineer who had defected and is "currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him." The US eventually realized that this source was related to a senior official in the Iraqi National Congress. And in late 2003 the US discovered that relevant analysts in the community missed a notice that identified a source cited as providing information that in some cases was unreliable, and in other cases was fabricated. The source was an Iraqi major who was provided to the US officials by the Iraqi National Congress.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:44:33 ZULU