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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraqi Chemical Weapons

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."

The Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force for Iraq on February 12, 2009. Iraq made its initial CW, CWPF, and industry declarations but has not yet produced a complete General Plan for Destruction. Iraq made its initial CW and CWPF declarations based on available United Nations (UN) documentation. Due to the fact that the chemical weapon storage facilities (CWSF) bunkers containing declared CW are sealed and have only incomplete UN documentation in relation to their contents, Iraq has had difficulty in formulating its General Plan for Destruction of its declared CW. The TS made helicopter over-flight inspections of some of the declared CWPFs and the CWSFs on May 4, 2011, which may help the TS make destruction planning recommendations, at least in relation to the General Plans for Destruction of some of Iraq’s CWPFs and the CWSFs. The on-site TS visit necessary for assessing a requested CWPF conversion at the Al Rashad CWPF was made November 6-8, 2012.

Although Iraq has committed funding for destruction, Iraq has not yet produced complete General Plans for Destruction of its CW and CWPFs as required by the CWC. Iraq has made some progress in preparation for the plan by conducting necessary surveys. In preparation for destruction activities, Iraq has removed sand from a CWSF bunker and cleared the area of conventional ordnance, and arranged for the training of destruction personnel. During the reporting period, Iraq continued to consult with the OPCW TS and States Parties on the issue.

The United States has maintained a dialogue with Iraq in relation to preparation of its General Plan for Destruction of its CW and CWPFs.

Iraq indicated its intent to meet its declaration and CW destruction obligations by attempting to produce General Plans for Destruction based on the limited information available to it. Nonetheless, recommendations by Iraqi experts were made, and the Iraqi Council of Ministers approved guidance for the plans in late 2010 and in 2011 committed funding for destruction activities. Although the Iraqi Ambassador during EC-68 indicated that Iraq would submit a plan by year’s end, as of December 31, 2012, there was no evidence that the plans were fully drafted.

The OPCW TS has reported that Iraq has partially fulfilled the requirement to implement legislation under Article VII of the CWC that includes measures to control transfers of scheduled chemicals and penal provisions. Iraq has not declared a national program for protection under paragraph 4 of Article X of the CWC.

Bob Rigg, former chair, NZ National Consultative Committee on Disarmament, noted in June 2014 that neither Iraq (for some time now a State Party to the CWC) nor the occupier US, had not by that time completely destroyed all CW at the Al Muthanna Chemicals Weapons Complex in Iraq, which had now been overrun by ISIS. Rigg stated that "The Obama administration's claim that the CW including sarin, mustard gas, and nerve agent VX at that complex do not pose a threat because they are "old, contaminated and hard to move" (note not IMPOSSIBLE to move) lacks all credibility. The US is trying to cover up the fact that Iraqi CW are now in the hands of a highly organised and formidably well funded extremist organisation with links across Iraq's borders into other ME states. After all the fuss made by the US about Iraqi CW, to justify war on Iraq, we now discover that the US failed to ensure the destruction of all CW at Iraq's main CW production complex. ISIS has the resources to ensure that maximum political and military advantage is derived from these CW, initially in the ME region."

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