UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraqi Special Weapons Facilities

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) had a list of 700 potential weapons sites that were either already inspected by its predecessor agency, the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM); were on the list to be checked when inspectors departed in 1998; or have been added on the basis of intelligence and other information gathered since 1998. The IAEA had its own list of potential inspection sites.

This is a partial inventory of major Iraqi special weapons facilities. Compilation of such an inventory is a surprisingly complex challenge. It is complicated by Iraqi concealment initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s, which remain surprisingly effective today. These operational security measures included extensive compartmentation of projects, assigning a variety of entity names to specific physical locations. Physical concealment measures during the 1980s included:

  • hiding power and water feeds (Tarmiya)
  • apparent low security and lack of defences (Tarmiya)
  • buildings within buildings (Tuwaitha)
  • reducing off-site emissions (Tuwaitha and Tarmiya)
  • different configurations for similar facilities (Ash Sharqat and Tarmiya)
  • disguising operational state (Al Atheer)

There is little standardization in the transliteration of Arabic names and places. Thus, Juball, Al Jubayl, and Jubaul are all the same place. The article in front of place names such as Al Mishab, Ar Riyadh, Ad Dammam, and Ash Shu'aybah is usually omitted in English as is Ras (point or headland) in the names of coastal places; e.g., Ras Al Mishab becomes simply Mishab.

The correlation between commonly cited entity names and identifiable geographical place names is a persistent problem, which is compounded by inconsistencies in transliteration from Arabic to English. While UNSCOM inspectors eventually uncovered more than 20 sites involved in the Iraqi nuclear program, 16 of which were described as "main facilities," the Desert Storm target list on 16 January 1991 contained only two nuclear-related targets. Badush, Baiji, Al Qaim, Samarra, Akashat, Al Fallujah, Baghdad, Salman Pak, Musayyib, and Basra were identified as chemical and biological warfare related locations by USCENTCOM as of September 1990. [GulfLINK] But in the CIA Report on Intelligence Related to Gulf War Illnesses, [dated 2 August 1996], the number of sites suspected to have been connected to Iraq's chemical warfare program alone, totaled 34. UNSCOM conducted chemical weapons-related inspections at over 60 locations.

In late 2001, an Iraqi defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who described himself as a civil engineer said he had worked on renovations of at least 20 different sites associated with Iraq's chemical or biological weapons programs [New York Times, 20 December 2001]. The laboratories, facilities and storage sites included secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. He claimed that several of the production and storage facilities were hidden in government companies and private villas in residential areas, or underground in what were built to look like water wells. He said that a biological materials laboratory was underneath Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest hospital in Baghdad. A biological facility located in Waziriya, an industrial area in Baghdad, was near the Mercedes dealer. The facility had been bombed in January 1993, but rebuilt soon after the attack. Numerous duplicate chemical and biological facilities were built in case some were discovered or attacked, standing idle for years until it was decided to use them. He said that duplicate nuclear facilities were built as part of an Iraqi program that he called "Substitute Sites."

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:44:37 ZULU