2,850 tonnes of mustard gas, 210 tonnes of tabun, 795 tonnes of sarin and
cyclosarin, and 3.9 tonnes of VX.
4. Iraq's nuclear programme was established under the Iraqi Atomic Energy
Commission in the 1950s. Under a nuclear co operation agreement signed with
the Soviet Union in 1959, a nuclear research centre, equipped with a research
reactor, was built at Tuwaitha, the main Iraqi nuclear research centre. The
research reactor worked up to 1991. The surge in Iraqi oil revenues in the early
1970s supported an expansion of the research programme. This was bolstered in
the mid 1970s by the acquisition of two research reactors powered by highly
enriched uranium fuel and equipment for fuel fabrication and handling. By the
end of 1984 Iraq was self sufficient in uranium ore. One of the reactors was
destroyed in an Israeli air attack in June 1981 shortly before it was to become
operational; the other was never completed.
5. By the mid 1980s the deterioration of Iraq's position in the war with Iran
prompted renewed interest in the military use of nuclear technology. Additional
resources were put into developing technologies to enrich uranium as fissile
material (material that makes up the core of a nuclear weapon) for use in nuclear
weapons. Enriched uranium was preferred because it could be more easily
produced covertly than the alternative, plutonium. Iraq followed parallel
programmes to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU), electromagnetic
isotope separation (EMIS) and gas centrifuge enrichment. By 1991 one EMIS
enrichment facility was nearing completion and another was under construction.
However, Iraq never succeeded in its EMIS technology and the programme had
been dropped by 1991. Iraq decided to concentrate on gas centrifuges as the
means for producing the necessary fissile material. Centrifuge facilities were
also under construction, but the centrifuge design was still being developed. In
August 1990 Iraq instigated a crash programme to develop a single nuclear
weapon within a year. This programme envisaged the rapid development of a
small 50 machine gas centrifuge cascade to produce weapons grade HEU using
fuel from the Soviet research reactor, which was already substantially enriched,
and unused fuel from the reactor bombed by the Israelis. By the time of the Gulf
War, the crash programme had made little progress.
6. Iraq's declared aim was to produce a missile warhead with a 20 kiloton yield and
weapons designs were produced for the simplest implosion weapons. These were
similar to the device used at Nagasaki in 1945. Iraq was also working on more
Effect of a 20 kiloton nuclear detonation
A detonation of a 20 kiloton nuclear warhead over a city might flatten an area
of approximately 3 square miles. Within 1.6 miles of detonation, blast
damage and radiation would cause 80% casualties, three quarters of which
would be fatal. Between 1.6 and 3.1 miles from the detonation, there would
still be 10% casualties.