Iraqi Scientist Reports on German, Other Help for Iraq Chemical Weapons Program

Al Zaman (London)
December 1, 2003

Article by Dr Khalil Ibrahim Al Isa, a nuclear science researcher, in Paris: Fresh information on the Iraqi chemical program; Iraqi money and German brains cooperated in building chemical weapons

(FBIS Translated Text)

Historically, the Germans have been the uncontested masters in the discovery, production, and development of lethal poison gases used in warfare, such as mustard gas that is identified by the chemical compound symbol of C1Ch2-Ch2-S-Ch2-Ch2CI. This gas was discovered by German scientists and was first used in 1917. There is also the nerve gas Tabun that was discovered in 1937 by the German scientist G-Farden. Later, a similar gaseous chemical compound called the nerve gas Sarin was discovered. These two gases are highly effective in totally paralyzing muscle movement. In other words, the nervous system is totally paralyzed and this paralysis leads to involuntary bowel movements that ultimately lead to the death of the victim within minutes. German scientists also discovered cyanide acid, which is a more complex chemical compound. It contains the compound Zyklon-B that was used as a weapon of annihilation in Auschwitz. During the First World War of 1914-1918, the gases used by the Germans led to the death of one million British and French soldiers. The horrific scenes of the victims drove world public opinion to impose stringent checks on the conduct of warfare in the protocol that was issued in 1925. This was the first international document that banned warring countries from using chemical and biological weapons, which were considered to be weapons of mass destruction during wartime. Unfortunately, the protocol did not stop countries from conducting scientific research and tests in this field.

In 1930, more than 40 countries signed this protocol and Iraq was one of the signatories. It continued to be in force and by 1989, 165 countries had signed it. However, the countries of the world continued to violate the Geneva protocol by developing new and modern methods in the art of the mass murder and annihilation of humanity. In the middle of the 1930s, the Germans developed more types of toxic gases. The German scientist Gerharder discovered a new form of nerve gases, such as Soman and Sarin. He also developed the gas Tabun that paralyzes the muscles of the air ducts in the lungs resulting in instant death. After the second Gulf war, the major powers drafted a new treaty that was debated by the members of the Security Council in 1992 and ratified in 1993 by 162 countries, including the Arab countries of Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. This treaty prohibited the production, proliferation, and stockpiling of chemical weapons as the world saw the tragic images of the victims of the defunct regime over one decade. The treaty also imposed restrictions and surveillance of the world's commercial trade transactions in dual-use chemical products with specifications similar to those cited in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The effects of the Iraqi-Iranian war (subhead)

In the mid-1970s when the Ibn-al-Haytham Research and Studies Center was established, Iraq began to conduct research work to test and produce old and new poison gases. Local cadres and capabilities were devoted to this effort. International support, especially by the two parts of Germany, was crucial in activating the Iraqi chemical program. The first use by the Iraqi army of poisonous compounds appeared on the battlefield during the battles against Iran, especially during the hotly contested clashes in Hawr al-Huwazah in 1983. According to the data available to UNSCOM, there are 15 centers to produce and develop poisonous gas for military use. These are located in various regions in Iraq, especially in the areas of Samarra, Al-Fallujah, Akashat, Bayji, Al-Sharqat, and Salman Bak. Seven of these big centers have been destroyed and the rest were put under permanent surveillance.

The defunct regime succeeded in establishing a complex network of companies, individuals, and countries to help it in importing what it needed from the international markets. The regime's efforts focused on importing raw materials, equipment, factories, and military industrialization technology. In fact, the Iraqi establishments made a lot of progress in this regard. They developed the production of toxic compounds, with the exception of mustard gas, such as the nerve gas Sarin, the nerve gas Tabun, and a complex material called VX. They also produced the highly toxic liquid called Toxic B that is highly destructive. They also produced gases that attack blood cells, such as hydrocyanic acid; gases that cause suffocation such as Phosgene; gases that force involuntary vomiting such as Admicit (name of gas as transliterated); tear gas such as Chloroespotophiton (name of gas as transliterated); and gases that cause hallucinations such as SD. All these poison gases are lethal and lead to paralysis. They also have a long-lasting harmful effect on the environment. They cause color mutations in plants and crops and are fatal to many types of animals and creatures. On 20 December 1998, the New York Times reported that the Security Council and the defunct regime were still in disagreement regarding the regime's claims that it had unilaterally destroyed its chemical weapons while the special commission is still seeking evidence to verify this claim.

The international imports network and the German role between 1982 and 1990 (subhead)

In early 1979, Iraq built the first factory to produce insecticides with the help of Italian engineers. The factory was built in the region of Akashat at a cost of $50 million. A security system was also built to protect the factory that cost another $60 million. The building of this factory experienced many problems, such as espionage attempts by the Mosad, the Israeli intelligence service. The western companies that dealt with the defunct regime -- for instance Australian and Dutch firms -- exported a lot of materials related to this field of production. For instance, the Dutch firm KBS sold Iraq large quantities of Thiodilyco (name as transliterated), a material that is essential in the production of mustard gas, at a cost of 1.5 million Marks. Multinational Italian firms also supplied Iraq with 60 tons of Oxycklorure (name as transliterated), a phosphoric material that is also used in chemical industries that can be put to dual-use. As for the French companies, they exported to Iraq large quantities of a gas (not further identified) that can be used in warfare. This gas was exported across the borders from Italy and Turkey. This transaction was concluded through the mediation of the German Company Karl Kolb. A confidential report issued on 21 August 1990 by Helmut Hossman (name as transliterated), the Economy Minister of then West Germany, confirmed that the German companies had the lion's share in these transactions. The report said that since 1983, West German companies have exported to Iraq huge quantities of raw materials, equipment, and small industrial factories to produce poison gases. The report also said that these companies participated directly in building the Sa'd Project, the Iraqi chemical project, and the construction of the military complex in Al-Taji.

The role of German companies in building the Iraqi nuclear program (subhead)

The German Company Karl Kolb that is specialized in equipping chemical laboratories played a crucial role in supplying the defunct regime over the past 30 years with toxic chemical materials through a middleman who helped Dr Amir al-Sa'di. Al-Sa'di prepared for his doctorate in chemistry in this institution and married a German woman. He worked in the Iraqi chemical project and was in charge of coordinating the defunct regime's transactions and requirements with the management of the Karl Kolb company. In October 1985, the operations of this company ceased by order of the German judiciary after it sold Iraq two electronic systems that test toxic gas inhalation levels. These are used in closed gas chambers where they measure toxic gas reactions with biological tissues. They also measure the level of their effect on animals, such as dogs, donkeys, and mules as well as humans. These gases were tested on prisoners that opposed the Iraqi regime.

The German engineering company NPI in Frankfurt expressed its regrets for the conduct of its colleagues in Karl Kolb in providing Iraq with the necessary technology to build its program to produce poison gases. These gases were used by the Iraqi regime in its wars against its neighbors and its own people. The German companies also sold Iraq seven chemical factories and launchers that could be used as chemical weapons. The Karl Kolb company, that has been under judicial investigation and prosecution since October 1985, also built a camp near Baghdad to test six laboratory units specialized in producing chemical materials to protect plants from locusts. These were sent to the complex in Al-Samarra. In the early 1980s, engineers from NVA, an East German company, built a complex near Baghdad to test chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. It was designed like the non-conventional weapons testing center in East Germany. It is equipped to protect against radiation. It consists of special buildings that are equipped with stations to remove traces of toxicity from equipment, personnel, and military materiel.

In 1984, the German economic monitoring organization gave in to pressures from German public opinion and dispatched two experts to Iraq to inspect the two factories in the Samarra complex. After they returned to their country, they expressed strong suspicions regarding the magnitude of the security systems guarding chemical factories that produce insecticides. One of them testified in the lawsuit against Karl Kolb. He now claims that he was duped at the time by the defunct regime.

The Samarra Factories (subhead)

The factories in the Samarra complex used to produce and stockpile the three lethal gas compounds of mustard gas, Tabun gas, and cyanide acid. Each time, the defunct regime claimed that the factories in Samarra was a complex of scientific research laboratories to produce pharmaceuticals and insecticides to protect the fluoride in the soil. German scientists estimate the production capacity of the Samarra complex at thousands of tons per year. This was also confirmed in the 1984 report published by the US Central Intelligence Agency. The report said that the factories in Sammara were producing lethal nerve gases. Later, the US government provided the German government with evidence related to the activities of this complex. The evidence was in the form of satellite images that revealed six-story buildings buried underground. The West German government rejected the evidence claiming that it did not prove anything against Iraq. This US insistence really worried the German Karl Kolb engineers and technicians that worked in the Samarra factories. They were so worried that Israel might bomb the Samarra complex that they hastened to build shelters to protect the personnel and the warehouses were the poison gases were stored. The horrible images of death of the victims of Iraq's chemical weapons in the town of Halabja in 1988 drove the West German authorities to take legal action after a lawsuit was filed against the German companies. The German federal organs to prevent customs crimes started procedures to identify the German companies that exported materials and equipment to Iraq that are used in the production of poison gases.

Incriminating Evidence (subhead)

The investigators gathered incriminating evidence and seized large quantities of chemical materials and equipment weighing about four tons while hundreds of witnesses testified. The West German government filed an official lawsuit in the spring of 1991 and the criminal court charged seven senior officials in the large German company of providing the defunct regime with essential components to manufacture chemical weapons in the Samarra complex and the Al-Fallujah complex. By 1989, Germany's huge role had turned Iraq into the biggest country in the Middle East producing gases that can be used in warfare. An Iraqi ambassador attending the Paris conference on chemical weapons has stated, "Iraq is now receiving a huge number of persistent requests from Third World countries that want to buy Iraqi chemical weapons".

The last warning from the US intelligence services to the West German authorities came in the fall of 1990. Germany was warned about the serious dangers entailed in the sale of poisonous gases to Iraq by German companies. Germany was told that the Iraqis were producing the highly toxic cyanide acid in the German factories. This gas is highly toxic when inhaled. Near the end of 1990, this fact drove the United States and the United Kingdom to review the protection equipment of their armies since this type of gas can defeat and destroy gas masks. We can safely say that the two parts of Germany transferred technologies that go in the manufacture and development of chemical weapons by the defunct regime. German scientists and cadres were also highly instrumental on the ground. This was corroborated in all the reports on the criminal investigations that were held by the West German law courts. It was also corroborated in the report published by the Federal Technology Organization in Zurich. The Swiss committee of experts and scientists published a 50-page report that accused West Germany of supplying the defunct regime with chemical plants specialized in the manufacture of mustard gas, Tabun, and cyanide acid. The defunct regime established two German companies that were part of a network of hundreds of fictitious companies to conceal Iraq's purchases and to oversee the exportation of suspect materials to Iraq. These companies are TDG-SEG-Industrieanlagen, Krefeld, RFA and H + H Metalform, Drensteinfurt, RFA.

The scandal that enabled the ousted dictatorship Saddam Husayn to procure means to produce chemical weapons is in fact a scandal that affects Germany first and foremost. As for the other countries -- such as the Italians, the Swedes, the French, the Dutch, the Americans, and others -- they can claim that they were duped by the defunct regime. However, until the whole truth comes out in the future, everyone should shoulder the responsibility and blame for the death of 5,000 victims in Halabjah, the thousands of victims of the Iranian army, and the thousands of victims in the steadfast Al-Ahwar region. All these were the victims of the arsenal of death that was built with German brains and Iraqi money. The Iraqi people have every right to prepare an indictment sheet against the German government and its companies for directly assisting the defunct dictatorial regime in mercilessly killing and annihilating Iraqis. And this government should compensate the victims of the German chemical weapons in Iraq.

(Description of Source: London Al-Zaman in Arabic -- London-based independent Iraqi daily providing coverage of Arab and international issues, including extensive reporting on Iraqi opposition activities; has an anti-Iraqi regime orientation, and is headed by the former editor of the Iraqi daily Al-Jumhuriyah)