The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Iraq worked on the two SRBM systems with ranges of less than 150 km authorized by the United Nations: the liquid-propellant Al-Samoud, and the solid-propellant Ababil-100. The Al-Samoud is essentially a scaled-down Scud, and the program allowed Baghdad to develop technological improvements that could be applied to a longer range missile program. According to the CIA, the Al-Samoud missile, as designed, was capable of exceeding the UN-permitted 150-km-range restriction with a potential operational range of about 180 kilometers.

The Al Samud I was designed to carry a unitary HE warhead, and Iraq apparently intended to develop a conventional submunition warhead for the missile. The Al Samud HE warhead is an extrapolation of the Scud warhead design and was later adopted for the Al Fat'h missile. Development of the warhead took about eight months and was completed in the summer of 1994. The Al Samud warhead components are listed in Table 2. The original Al Samud warhead has a 500-mm-base-diameter and is 2 meters long with a design payload mass of 300 kg. The fuze mechanism is similar to that of the Scud missile. The original warhead design contained one forward booster and two rear boosters at the base of the warhead, one of which serves to provide uniform detonation in the system, the other as an auto destruct mechanism in case the missile deviates from its predetermined trajectory. Because Iraq lacked confidence in the accuracy of the guidance and control system, the backup and emergency boosters were never incorporated, leaving a single forward booster. An impact crush switch is incorporated into the graphite nose of the warhead.

Iraq's desire to achieve 150-km range resulted in a quick modification to reduce the payload mass from 300 kg to 200-250 kg with 100-120 kg of HE, according to a senior missile official. Iraq reduced the warhead mass by relocating the base plate and bulkhead forward into the warhead body, which reduced the available HE volume. Warhead modifications continued into 2001. A flight test in late 2001 used better constructed cylindrical and conical parts of the warhead with a payload of 240 kg and achieved a range of 151 km.

Al Samud Warhead Components
Nose Tip
Outer shell 2-mm rolled steel
Insulation layer 3-mm Asbestos
Inner Shell 1-mm rolled steel
Fuze Impact or crush switch housed in nose tip
Booster x 3 The third booster acts as a safety mechanism, detonating if the missile deviates from its predetermined trajectory
Filler 60% RDX, 30% TNT, 10% aluminum powder

After the Commission's monitoring system in the missile area became operational in August 1994, Iraq's non-proscribed activities in the missile area moved closer to a production phase. [S/1997/301] Iraq resumed its acquisition efforts in support of its missile facilities. Iraq placed a number of orders, both directly and indirectly (through middlemen and front companies), for the purchase of equipment, technologies, supplies and material for both missile- and non-missile-related activities at these facilities. Iraq explained that many of these efforts were in direct support of its Ababil-100 program for indigenous development and production of surface-to-surface missiles with ranges between 100 and 150 kilometers. [S/1995/864]

After August 1995 Iraq admitted that since the adoption of resolution 687 (1991), it had carried out an undeclared program to modify the Volga/SA-2 surface-to-air missile system to a surface-to-surface application with a range of over 100 kilometers. At the initiation of the monitoring system in 1993, the Commission decided that it would be sufficient to monitor, including with cameras, sites where main maintenance activities were carried out on Volga systems. As Iraq's undisclosed program comprised flight tests of this system, the Commission decided, in January 1996, to modify monitoring modalities to include tagging of all Volga missiles similar to other tagged missiles in Iraq. [S/1996/848]

Iraq had continued its development of the Al-Samoud missile system, which had a declared range of less than 150 kilometers. The term "al-Samoud" is not attested outside of UNSCOM and derivative documents. The phrase "Al-Sumood" may be translated as "steadfastness" or "endurance" -- conveying a sense of national endurance of suffering. The Sumood of the Palestinians gave way to the Intifada in 1987. Among the meanings understood from the root "samada" is the raising of ones head up proudly or in disdain. [The rather unlikely kindred homonym "Samood" occurs frequently in the Koran, also transliterated "Thamud", to refer to a tribe that rejected the teachings of the Prophet, with meanings that include The Mud, The Mire, The Bog etc...]

The issue of reuse by Iraq of Volga surface-to-air missile components in the development of the Al-Samoud missile remained unresolved.[S/1998/920] UNSCOM expressed serious concern over the use by Iraq of certain key components taken from the Volga surface-to-air missile system and modifying them for use in a short-range missile system. These modifications could, in turn, have enabled Iraq to modify the Volga missiles into a proscribed surface-to-surface mode. [S/1998/529] The covert G-l program, to convert surface-to-surface missiles to a proscribed surface-to-surface role, included secret flight tests and an undeclared facility to support this (1993-1994).[UNSCOM 03 June 98]

Around August 1991, Iraq started a secret project to construct a surface-to-surface missile called "J-1" without notifying the UN Special Commission [UNSCOM] as required by the Security Council resolutions. There were key similarities between the J-1 missile and the Fahad missiles that were under development in Iraq before the adoption of resolution 687 (1991). Iraq's development of the J-1 surface-to-surface missile was based on the Volga/SA2 surface-to-air missile with certain modifications, particularly to its engine and guidance and control system. During the period when work on the J-1 project was ongoing, UNSCOM inspectors were told by Iraq that it was merely developing a non-proscribed Ababil-100 missile that it had declared to UNSCOM. As it is known now, the Ababil 100 had some specifications similar to the J-1. [SOURCE ]

Since the missile monitoring system was established in 1994, Iraq achieved considerable progress in the development of the Samoud liquid propellant missile system with a declared range of 149 kilometres. A number of static tests of missile engines were conducted. In October 1997, Iraq carried out its first declared flight test of a Samoud missile. This flight test was declared a success by Iraq and demonstrated a significant step in Iraq's indigenous missile production capabilities. Iraq continued active flight test activities in 1998, and had conducted a total of eight flight tests as of June 2000.

According to the British dossier Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction released in September 2002, it was unclear whether chemical and biological warheads had been developed for the al-Samoud/Ababil-100 ballistic missiles but given the Iraqi experience on other missile systems, the British government was judging that Iraq had the technical expertise for doing so. According to that same dossier, the al-Samoud liquid propellant missile has been extensively tested and had been deployed to military units. Intelligence indicated that at least 50 had been produced. Intelligence also indicated that Iraq had worked on extending its range to at least 200km in breach of UN Security Resolution 687.

In February 2003, U.N. inspectors evaluated two versions of the Al Samoud 2 missile using four separate computer models. Both versions were found to exceed the range limit of 150 kilometers set by the U.N. Security Council. The lighter version of the Al Samoud 2 was estimated to have a range of 193 kilometers, while the heavier version would be capable of a 162 km range. Accordingly, it was requested that all Al Samoud 2 missiles and warheads be delivered to the inspectors for destruction.

A cache of 12 Al Samoud missiles was found south of Bayji at LD7154 and LD7644 on 21 July 2003 at 1700 hrs.

Original Al Samud Parameters
Subsystem Parameter Characteristic Units Data Notes
Missile Overall Length m 7.6  
Diameter mm 500  
Lift-off mass kg 1,500 Approximate figure
Inert mass kg 340 +/- 30kg
Warhead Mass Total kg 270  
Explosive kg 160 60% TNT, 30% RDX, 10% Al
Length Overall m 1.68  
Cylindrical m 0.23  
Conical m 1.45  
Material Wall mm 3 Carbon steel
Propulsion Engine Thrust t 3.5  
Burning time s 68* Nominal
s +2* Contingency
Tanks Ullage volume % 5 Up to 8%
Ox, length, overall m 2.600 Domes each 0.335 high
Ox, length, parallel m 1.930  
Fuel, length, overall m 1.691 Domes each 0.335 high
Fuel, length, parallel m 1.021  
Thickness mm 2 Aluminum
Propellant Oxidizer ----- AK-20K  
Oxidizer flow rate kg/s 11.5*  
Total mass kg 724* Usable, for 63s burning time
Fuel ----- TG-02  
Fuel flow rate kg/s 3.5*  
Total mass kg 220* Usable, for 63s burning time
Air supply Air bottle Diameter mm 300 Spherical, one only
Pressure bar 300-360  
*Parameters are known to be inconsistent.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:44:53 ZULU