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Pre-War Evidence for WMD in Iraq

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Iraq War News

Historical overview

A detailed timeline of Iraqi history  is given here, including links to UN resolutions   Iraq books 
Map of Iraq     Map of Kuwait  Detailed Map of Iraq Map of Baghdad   Street Map of Baghdad

Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction

The motive for the Iraq war was the evidence or suspicion that Iraq had continued to develop weapons of mass destruction, bolstered by Iraq's long history of use of such weapons and defiance of UN inspections. This motive became controversial when, after the invasion of Iraq in March-April 2003, the US and Britain did not immediately find conclusive evidence for weapons of mass destruction. Some of the evidence that the allies had relied upon, showing that Iraq was continuing to develop nuclear weapons, was apparently forged.

Iraq engaged in massive development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and of missiles and mobile launchers to deliver these weapons, since 1991. Biological and chemical warfare have been outlawed since World War I. Iraq did not, apparently, use these weapons during operation Desert Storm, though it had used them previously against Iran and the Kurds. An Israeli expert, Uzi Rubin, concluded in 2000 that Iraq had approximately 50 Al-Husayn missiles of the type used to attack Israel (Jane's Defense Weekly, March 1, 2000). Other sources estimate about 25 missiles are unaccounted for. UNSCOM estimated that as many as 100 may remain.

Al-Hussein Missile

Missile Carrier

Document - Hans Blix's  Report on Inspections - March 7, 2003

Summary of Iraqi WMD Capabilities
This material is taken from the SIPRI Iraq-UNSCOM fact Sheet. Since it was prepared, UN inspectors concluded that Iraq had also weaponized VX. According to different estimates about 20-100 Al-Hussein Scud missiles of the type used against Israel and Saudi Arabia in 1991. When inspections stopped in 1998, UNSCOM inspectors had concluded that there was no way to verify that Iraq had destroyed all of its stores of biological, chemical and other agents, including quantities of aflatoxin and approximately 500 R-400 aerial bombs that had been filled with biological warfare agents. 

Biological weapons

1. Holdings declared by Iraq *


 8 400 litres

Botulinum toxin

 19 000 litres

Clostridium (gas gangrene)

 3 400 litres


 2 200 litres


 10 litres

2. Bacterial Warfare munitions

Scud missile warheads (al-Hussein)




  botulinum toxin




Aerial bombs




  botulinum toxin




Aerial dispensers


3. Other munitions tested for BW

155-mm artillery shells
Artillery rockets
MiG-21 drone
Aerosol generators

Chemical weapons

1. Holdings declared by Iraq

 Mustard gas

 500-600 tonnes

 G agents (sarin, tabun)

 100-150 tonnes

 VX **

 50-100 tonnes

* In addition 39 tonnes of growth medium required for BW production were imported in 1988, of which 17 tonnes remain unaccounted for. The litre unit, however, gives no indication of the concentration of the agent in the slurry.
** UNSCOM estimates that 50-100 tonnes were produced before 1990. Iraq declared 3.9 tonnes produced between 1988 and 1990 and unilaterally destroyed.

2. CW munitions

Aerial bombs (of which 3 contained VX)
Aerial spray dispensers
1 122-mm rocket containing VX
120-mm rockets

Ballistic missiles

Scud B (300-km range)

819 operational

al-Hussein (650-km range)

in development

al-Abbas (950-km range)

in development

SS-21 short-range ballistic missile launcher turned over to UNSCOM in 1995


al-Samoud missile (150-km range)

In process of destruction after UNMOVIC determined these missiles violate UN Security Council Resolution 687

To February 1998, UNSCOM destroyed or supervised the destruction of:
38 537 filled and empty CW munitions
480 000 litres (690 tonnes) of CW agents
3000 tonnes of precursor chemicals
8 types of delivery systems
The al-Hakam BW production facility
48 Scud missiles
6 operational mobile launchers
28 operational fixed launch pads
32 fixed launch pads under construction
30 chemical warheads
14 conventional warheads
Other related equipment

Iraq claims to have unilaterally destroyed all its missiles, but UNSCOM has only been able to verify the destruction of:
83 Scud missiles
9 mobile launchers
426 pieces of CW production equipment
91 pieces of related analytical instruments

Iraq claims to have consumed 2870 tonnes of CW agent in the period 1981-88, but UNSCOM has not been able to verify this. The following items remain unaccounted for:

Scud missile components, warheads and propellant
17 tonnes of growth media for the production of BW agents
Items of CW production equipment
4000 tonnes of CW precursors
750 tonnes of VX precursors
100 al-Hussein missiles
31 000 CW munitions
20 R-17 Scud-B -type missiles
40-70 CBW-capable missile warheads
Significant quantities of biological warfare agents
Significant quantities of 155-mm ammunition rounds




At MidEastWeb:

A detailed timeline of Iraqi History   2003: Reports of UNMOVIC and IAEA to the UN British Government Dossier

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