CHAPTER 2
IRAQ'S PROGRAMMES: 1971 1998
1. Iraq has been involved in chemical and biological warfare research for over 30
years. Its chemical warfare research started in 1971 at a small, well guarded site
at Rashad to the north east of Baghdad. Research was conducted there on a
number of chemical agents including mustard gas, CS and tabun. Later, in 1974
a dedicated organisation called al Hasan Ibn al Haitham was established. In the
late 1970s plans were made to build a large research and commercial scale
Effects of Chemical Weapons
Mustard is a liquid agent, which gives off a hazardous vapour, causing burns
and blisters to exposed skin. When inhaled, mustard damages the respiratory
tract; when ingested, it causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It attacks and
damages the eyes, mucous membranes, lungs, skin, and blood forming
organs.
Tabun, sarin and VX are all nerve agents of which VX is the most toxic.
They all damage the nervous system, producing muscular spasms and
paralysis. As little as 10 milligrammes of VX on the skin can cause rapid
death.
production facility in the desert some 70km north west of Baghdad under the
cover of Project 922. This was to become Muthanna State Establishment, also
known as al Muthanna, and operated under the front name of Iraq's State
Establishment for Pesticide Production. It became operational in 1982 83. It had
five research and development sections, each tasked to pursue different
programmes. In addition, the al Muthanna site was the main chemical agent
production facility, and it also took the lead in weaponising chemical and
biological agents including all aspects of weapon development and testing, in
association with the military. According to information, subsequently supplied
by the Iraqis, the total production capacity in 1991 was 4,000 tonnes of agent per
annum, but we assess it could have been higher. Al Muthanna was supported by
three separate storage and precursor production facilities known as Fallujah 1, 2
and 3 near Habbaniyah, north west of Baghdad, parts of which were not
completed before they were heavily bombed in the 1991 Gulf War.
2. Iraq started biological warfare research in the mid 1970s. After small scale
research, a purpose built research and development facility was authorised at
al Salman, also known as Salman Pak. This is surrounded on three sides by the
Tigris river and situated some 35km south of Baghdad. Although some progress
was made in biological weapons research at this early stage, Iraq decided to
concentrate on developing chemical agents and their delivery systems at
al Muthanna. With the outbreak of the Iran Iraq War, in the early 1980s, the
biological weapons programme was revived. The appointment of Dr Rihab Taha
in 1985, to head a small biological weapons research team at al Muthanna,
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