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Deception Activities

Iraq successfully concealed both the size and level of progress of its nuclear program. Four months after the June 1981 bombing by Israel of Iraq’s Osirak reactor, Jaffar Dhia Jaffar (deputy minister of industry, head of reactor physics at Tuwaitha and now believed to have been the head of Iraq’s nuclear weapon program) reportedly convinced Saddam Hussein that remaining in the NPT while embarking on a clandestine nuclear weapon program would present no serious difficulties.

Over the next decade, a nuclear program code-named Petrochemical-3 employed over 20,000 employees-7,000 of them scientists and engineers -- at an estimated cost of $7 to $10 billion. This program included at least two major enrichment programs (EMIS and centrifuges, plus preliminary work with chemical enrichment), direct foreign technical assistance, and massive foreign procurement -- much but not all of which fell within the domain of legal dual-use items. For example, so as not to arouse suspicion, the calutron program imported large iron-pole magnets (4.5 meters in diameter) from a European foundry in crude, unfinished form; such iron forgings were finished to specification in Iraq. The Iraqis obtained the design for buildings at the Ash-Sharqat nuclear facility that were planned to house calutrons by duplicating the Yugoslav-built Tarmiya site.

Iraq did have a major petrochemical industry which helped provide cover for its nuclear-weapon-program purchases. However, at least three other factors also helped shield its foreign procurement of nuclear-related dual-use items from drawing too much attention.

  1. Tensions among IAEA member states in the Middle East following the Israeli bombing of the Osirak reactor made it harder for the IAEA to be as proactive with respect to Iraq as it might otherwise have been.
  2. Iraq’s war with Iran could arguably have been placing heavy demands on certain technologies that needed replenishment through imports.
  3. The United States and other Western nations’ tilt toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war gave Iraq many "green lights" for importing technologies that might otherwise have caused more concern.

The Iraqis also had some success at foiling western imagery intelligence capabilities. The Tarmiya site, which housed the main EMIS facility, had no security fence and no visible electrical capacity; only later did inspectors discover that it was powered by a 30-kV underground electrical feed from a 150 MWe substation several kilometers away. Tarmiya was also situated within a large military security zone, thereby needing no additional perimeter security or military defenses at the site. The Iraqis built a multimillion-dollar "chemical wash" facility for recovering uranium from refurbished calutron components. This facility was reportedly as sophisticated and dean as any in the West, and triple-filtered so as not to release any trace of effluents into the atmosphere that might have led to its detection once it began operation.

In its resolution 687 (1991), the Security Council laid down the obligation that Iraq should unconditionally accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless under international supervision of its prohibited weapons. That resolution also sets forth the actions that need to be taken by Iraq in fulfilment of its disarmament obligations not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the items proscribed to it under paragraphs 8 and 9 of resolution 687 (1991), namely "(a) all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities related thereto; (b) all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres, and related major parts and repair and production facilities". The three-step system the Council established in order to enable Iraq to fulfil its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) are:
  1. full declaration by Iraq,
  2. verification by the Commission and
  3. destruction, removal or rendering harmless under international supervision.

A full understanding of all aspects of Iraq's programs for weapons of mass destruction is essential to the planning and the operation of an effective system of monitoring. The Commission's report in April 1995 (S/1995/284) contained a comprehensive description of the concept of operations underlying the Commission's monitoring system. A full knowledge of Iraq's prohibited programmes for the monitoring system and for confidence in its effectiveness and comprehensiveness require:

"Possession by the Commission of a full picture of Iraq's past programmes and a full accounting of the facilities, equipment, items and materials associated with those past programmes, in conjunction with full knowledge of the disposition of dual-purpose items currently available to Iraq, the technologies acquired by Iraq in pursuing the past programmes, and the supplier networks it established to acquire those elements of the programmes that it could not acquire indigenously. This information provides the baseline data from which ongoing monitoring and verification proceeds;

"Knowledge of the level of technology attained by Iraq, of the production and acquisition methods it used and of the materials and equipment it had available are all key to designing a system of monitoring that addresses issues of concern and focuses monitoring effort where it would be most effective and efficient. For example, within Iraq, the system should focus more of its efforts on those technologies and production methods that Iraq is known to have mastered than on technologies and methods that Iraq is known not to have mastered, whereas, for the export/import monitoring regime, the converse would be true, with effort focusing on those items that Iraq would have to import in order to reactivate a proscribed weapons programme. Clearly, knowing where to focus effort requires knowledge of what Iraq would have achieved in its past programmes;

"Similarly, knowledge of the procurement methods and routes used by Iraq for its past programmes is key to the design of an effective and efficient export/import monitoring regime. This system should be designed to be effective against the procurement routes and methods that Iraq is known to have used in the past. Testing whether it is, is predicated on knowing those routes and methods;

"Full accounting for the materials, items and equipment associated with the past programmes is directly related to what assets should be monitored under the system. Dual-purpose materials, items and equipment from the past programmes must be monitored, along with other dual-purpose capabilities available to Iraq. Uncertainties relating to the accuracy or completeness of this accounting will consequently lead to uncertainties as to whether the ongoing monitoring and verification system is indeed monitoring all the materials, items and equipment which should be monitored". (ibid., para. 3 (a))

Pursuant to the plan for ongoing monitoring and verification, approved by the Security Council in resolution 715 (1991), the Commission has established a multi-layered monitoring system designed to cover essential elements of Iraq's special weapons and related research, development, testing and manufacturing facilities. [S/1995/208] The system is designed to compensate the limitations of one layer of the system with the strengths of other layers. The current monitoring system includes, inter alia [S/1995/864]:

After completion of the baseline process for each site being monitored, the Commission began operating the ongoing monitoring and verification system for Iraq's missile and related facilities on 17 August 1994. Monitoring in the biological area began in full on 4 April 1995, preceded by a four-month interim monitoring phase. The scope of activities and sites to be encompassed by the monitoring needs to be broad because of the inherent dual-use nature of biological technology and the ease with which civilian facilities can be converted for biological weapons purposes. The Commission has been compelled to cast a wider net in the biological field because of Iraq's incomplete disclosure of the full extent of its past biological warfare activities. [S/1995/864]

After its acceptance of Security Council resolution 687 (1991) in April 1991, the Government of Iraq initiated a policy of systematic concealment, denial and masking of the most important aspects of its proscribed weapons and related capabilities. In the face of this challenge, the UN Special Commission has had to field innovative and creative inspections, planned, organized and executed in a manner capable of defeating Iraqi countermeasures. The inspection activities and the integrated analytical work, supported by advanced techniques and applied science, have since 1991 led to the uncovering of the full dimensions of Iraq's complex programs for weapons of mass destruction. During 1996 and 1997 the inspections led to the unmasking of: a complete biological weapons development and production program; highly sophisticated and advanced work on the extremely lethal chemical warfare nerve agent VX; and the multifaceted domestic development and production of Scud-type missile engines under Iraq's project 1728. Large quantities of chemical weapons and equipment, as well as long-range missiles and related precision machines, have been destroyed under the Commission's supervision in the implementation of resolution 687 (1991). As late as 1996, after the detection of the secret biological weapons programme, the sprawling research, development and production facility for biological weapons at Al Hakam was demolished.[S/1997/301]

The UN Special Commission and IAEA discovered at an early stage some Iraqi deception. IAEA inspection teams in June of 1991 discovered equipment and material related to nuclear weapons enrichment programs at a military facility in Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad. While Iraq succeeded in blocking the teams access to this material1 the team was able to gather photographic evidence of the existence of undeclared equipment on 28 June 1991. As a result a special High Level Committee was formed on 30 June 1991 to address the issue of retained proscribed material and weapons. This Committee, chaired by Tariq Aziz, allegedly decided that Iraq had to declare its nuclear program to the Commission and the IAEA. This decision was made on 7 July 1991. [UNSCOM 03 June 98]

Iraq decided, in April 1991, to divide its missile force into two parts. It would present one part to the Commission for destruction and illegally retain the second part. Iraq claims it subsequently decided to destroy the retained missile force, unilaterally. It was claimed that this unilateral destruction took place in July 1991. In 1997 UNSCOM was informed by Iraq, however, that some prohibited weapons and materials were still withheld, even after this unilateral destruction, until October 1991.[S/1997/774]

In addition the High Level Committee decided to undertake the secret unilateral destruction of proscribed weapons materials. In March 1992 Iraq revealed to UNSCOM that it had retained some proscribed weapons after the adoption of resolution 687 however, it claimed that it had destroyed them secretly in the summer of 1991. This unilateral destruction, in violation of resolution 687, has created a major problem for UNSCOM in the verification of Iraq's compliance. The unilateral destruction was conducted by Iraq in such a manner as to hide the existence of these weapons, and to some extent to cover the level of achievement of its weapons programs. Iraq recognized this in a letter to the Security Council on 17 November 1997, which noted that the "unilateral destruction was carried out entirely unrecorded. no written and no visual records were kept, as it was not foreseen that Iraq needed to prove the destruction to anybody."

The quantities of proscribed weapons that Iraq retained included 2/3 of the operational missile force; more than half of the chemical weapons; and all the biological weapons.[UNSCOM 03 June 98]

UNILATERAL DESTRUCTION Proscribed Weapons Declared Retained Operational Missiles 48 85 Conventional Warheads 18 83 Special Warheads 30 45 Operational Launchers 5 9 Non-Oper. Launchers 5 0 Empty & Filled Chemical Weapons 38,000 46,000 Biological Weapons 0 ALL WEAPONS

During the unilateral destruction, some weapons and equipment were diverted and hidden. For example, some items, such as tooling for production of proscribed missiles, which had been set for destruction, were in fact diverted to a hide site and allegedly destroyed later.

While much was unverifiable, the Commission in June 1995 was in a position to consider the possibility of transferring the Missile and CW files over to monitoring regime. In July 1995 Iraq's President threatened to cease cooperation with the UN if no progress was made toward lifting sanctions. Foreign Minister Sahhaf stated a deadline of 31 August that year for the Council to act. Iraq made an admission of an offensive BW programme in July 1995.

However, in August 1995 the defection of Hussein Kamal occurred. Immediately, the entire basis upon which the Commission was conducting its assessments and analysis was undermined. It became clear that Iraq's declaration of March 1992 was itself a fraud.[UNSCOM 03 June 98]

On 08 August 1995, Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel, the former head of the Military Industrialization Corporation (MIC), an organization responsible for the development and manufacture of proscribed weapons, departed for Jordan. In the aftermath of that event, the Commission was able to bring under its control a massive amount of documentation and material directly linked to proscribed programs. This had been hidden inside Iraq since the autumn of 1991 and had been turned over to the Commission at a final hide-site, a so-called "chicken farm" at Haidar, on 20 August 1995. [S/1996/848]

On 20 August 1995 General Amer Rashid al-Ubeidi contacted the UNSCOM Chairman and requested that he visit a farm which the General stated to have belonged to General Hussein Kamel Hassan, where items of great interest to the Commission could be found. On arrival at the farm, in addition to a number of shipping containers with miscellaneous equipment in them, the Chairman and his team found, in a locked chicken house, numerous metal and wooden boxes which were packed with documentation, together with microfiches, computer diskettes, videotapes, photographs and prohibited hardware components. Orders were immediately issued to the Commission's personnel, who had been brought to the site, to secure this material and transfer it to the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center. Examination of the contents of the boxes at the Centre revealed well over half a million pages of documentation. While most of this related to the nuclear area, a large amount concerned the chemical, biological and missile areas. [S/1995/864]

The very existence and concealment of these materials over four and one half years validated UNSCOM's concerns about the existence of a mechanism used to collect and transport these items and to establish a network of hide-sites and provide logistical support for this clandestine operation. Iraq, however, asserts that there was no systematic mechanism of concealment on the part of the Government of Iraq. [S/1996/848]

Iraq undertook systematic efforts to move around, reclassify, destroy or retain documents related to its past proscribed weapons programs. Iraq has declared to the Commission a program from April 1991 until February 1993 to hide documents from the Commission, destroy duplicate sets of documents, and microfiche documents. [UNSCOM 03 June 98] Iraq admitted that an organized campaign had been carried out between mid-1991 and March 1993 to collect important documentation primarily related to technological know-how available in Iraq for the design and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction for long-term storage and concealment. [S/1996/848] The Iraqi representatives who had worked on these projects explained that they had been ordered to prepare a selection of the most important documents and to hand them over to the special security organizations. In the view of UNSCOM, the boxes obtained by it do not contain the full record of proscribed missile activities or a complete set of documentation which could be expected to be found at such facilities. [S/1995/864] Iraq claims that this effort was ordered by one man, Hussein Kamal, and that it was done in secret from the rest of the Iraqi leadership. The Iraqis claim that the Haidar Chicken Farm cache was the product of this secret effort. [UNSCOM 03 June 98]

Officers from the Special Republican Guard had been carrying out the collection, safekeeping and protection of the "chicken farm" documents between September 1991 and August 1995. Iraq explained that the documents from the "chicken farm" on 20 August 1995 had constituted only a portion of concealed documentation, with the rest having been burnt just a few days prior to 20 August, at another farm west of Baghdad. [S/1996/848] UNSCOM doubts that the materials obtained are all those which were gathered under the protection order issued in 1991. More such documentation must still exist, particularly in certain significant areas such as production records, Iraq's procurement networks and sources of supply. Also, the relevant Military Industrialization Corporation (MIC) headquarters documentation and archives of the Ministry of Defense are missing. [S/1995/864]

The Farm had been used to store material earlier. Special Security, concerned about the revelations of data expected to be made by Hussein Kamal, brought material back to the farm for the purpose of discovery by the Commission. High-level defectors have informed the Commission that this material was stored at a number of locations throughout the Baghdad area to include residences associated with several high-ranking Iraqi Government officials. The Special Security Organization might have quickly acted to consolidate those caches, and from 9 August until 18 August, worked to sort the material into two categories: what was to be turned over to the Commission, and what was to be retained. Analysis of the content and circumstances of the Haidar Farm documents concluded that significant areas of documentation were missing and likely still retained in Iraq. [UNSCOM 03 June 98]

Iraq initially only declared the diversion of the material discovered by the Commission at the Haidar Chicken Farm. However, the Commission was able to uncover other examples of diversion undeclared by Iraq. For example, at the villa of one Major Izzadin, production tools and components related to the indigenous SCUD production program, were hidden.[UNSCOM 03 June 98]

Iraq has acknowledged that, until August 1995, it undertook efforts to conceal the extent of its success in the indigenous production of missiles. For these purposes, Iraq falsified declarations of its manufacture and testing of indigenously manufactured engines, misrepresented the purpose and use of production machinery in order to spare it from destruction, and under reported the quantities of imported components. Additionally, Iraq stated that it chose the method of unilateral destruction to conceal specifically both the acquisition or manufacture of certain components and success that the program had achieved. Iraq has declared that additional efforts were taken, even after its declaration of the unilateral destruction in March of 1992, to secretly excavate and further destroy components to conceal these programmes. Many critical components, tools and documents were diverted from the unilateral destruction and retained. [UNSCOM 03 June 98]

From 1991 to 1995, Iraq categorically denied it had a biological weapons program. During that period it took active steps to conceal the program from the UN Special Commission which involved specific deception, fraudulent statements false and forged documents, and misrepresentation of people and facilities. Iraq retained the facilities, growth media equipment and groupings of core technical personnel at Al Hakam. Only in 1995 after pressed by UNSCOM with evidence that demonstrated that Iraq had a BW program did Iraq reveal its offensive BW program. Subsequently, after acknowledging this program, Iraq provided only the minimum amount of information required. Even since August 1995, Iraq has provided altered documents and taken other measures to mislead UNSCOM. Iraq denies virtually all organizational aspects and minimizes all structural elements of the BW program. Establishment of a material balance and a determination of the structure and organization of the BW program is required for effective monitoring of Iraq's dual capable facilities.[UNSCOM 03 June 98]

In June 1998 UNSCOM presented a recently obtained Iraqi document which proved that Iraq continued to hide documents two years after it claimed that it had stopped doing so. [UNSCOM June 98] The document refers to a 1993 meeting at the al-Farouk factory, which was involved in the production of mobile missile launchers. During the meeting it was decided that all official documents related to the work of UNSCOM were to be removed to alternate sites or destroyed. Iraq had previously told UNSCOM that all documentation had been gathered in late 1991. UNSCOM stated that this newly discovered document raises serious concerns for UNSCOM, for the date of the activity in question does not coincide with the detailed chronology prepared by Iraq.

UNSCOM also presented evidence that Iraq assembled documentation at Haider house farm after the defection of the late Hussein Kamel. UNSCOM stated that this contradicts Iraq's explanations to date that Kamel gathered the documents on his own prior to his departure from Iraq. Imagery presented by UNSCOM show that nothing was stored at farm prior to Kamel's departure. However, the day after he left the images show considerable activity at the farm, including the delivery of numerous storage containers.

UNSCOM also said high-level defectors told them that the documentation in question was actually stored at numerous secret sites throughout Baghdad. Before being transported to the farm it was consolidated at another location and sorted into two categories: documents to be given to the commission, and those that were to be retained by the Iraqi government.

UNSCOM presented evidence that demonstrates Iraq has been changing its weapons declarations to match emerging commission findings. UNSCOM noted, "a lack of realism in the declarations complicates the verification work. Such issues need to be resolved by Iraq to allow UNSCOM to report with confidence on Iraq's compliance."

Since spring 1996, the Commission has carried out a series of unprecedented inspections aimed at detecting the concealment mechanism and getting access to proscribed weapons, components, production tools and related documents that might still remain in Iraq. These activities wee in conformity with the joint programme of action agreed upon on 22 June 1996 between the UNSCOM Executive Chairman and the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq[S/1997/301] To facilitate the conduct of inspection activities, the Commission established specific modalities designed to facilitate immediate access by teams to sites regarded by Iraq as being of a sensitive nature. Iraq specifically identified such sensitive sites as belonging to the Mukhabarat (General Intelligence Service), Amn al Aman (General Security Service), Amn al Khass (Special Security Organization), the Special Republican Guard, and the Republican Guard. [S/1996/848]

In March 1997, the Commission undertook a major investigation of the concealment mechanism. An inspection team, UNSCOM 182, visited 17 sites looking for possible connections between concealment activities and elements of the Special Republican Guard. Other sites visited included those belonging to Iraq's Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat), the Special Security Organization, the General Security Service and the Military Intelligence. No proscribed material or activity was found. [S/1997/301]

In June 1997, a series of sites were inspected by UNSCOM that were related to organizations that have been directly connected in various ways to concealment actions and/or covert procurement activities. The sites included those belonging to the Special Security Organization, the Iraqi Intelligence Service and the Special Republican Guard. The Commission has established that links exist between those organizations and Iraq's concealment efforts through the involvement of their individuals and vehicles in concealment actions as well as direct support to known prohibited procurement actions. During the last week of September 1997, another inspection of sites in Iraq with links to concealment activities was conducted. This inspection focused on sites that have been associated with ongoing activity in a concealment system in Iraq operating for the purpose of continuing to deny the Commission access to information and documentation pertaining to past proscribed material and equipment, as well as the equipment and material itself. Relevant sites associated with the Special Republican Guard, the Special Security Organization, the Iraqi Intelligence Service and Military Intelligence were inspected. The Commission encountered a pattern of Iraqi blockages and evidence of removal and/or destruction of documents and material at "sensitive sites" under inspection. During the inspections of June, September and October 1997, multiple delays and violations of the modalities for the inspection of sensitive sites were experienced. Ultimately, Iraq prohibited access to a number of sites the Commission sought to inspect, some of them on the ground that the sites were "Presidential/ residential" sites and therefore out of bounds to the Commission's inspectors.[S/1997/774]

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