Central Intelligence Agency – Program Development
[redacted] Iraqi leaders decided in 1973 to develop a full-scale chemical weapons program. The following year the chemical warfare program was transferred from the intelligence section of the ruling Ba’th Party to an ostensibly civilian organization, the General Engineering Services. A research and development project was established through two front organizations, the Al Hazen Institute and the Al Hasan Bin Haytham Foundation. The institute and foundation acted as cover organizations for contact with Western commercial firms to acquire specialized engineering and equipment to begin a research and development effort. They also made the initial contacts with West European commercial firms for construction of a central facility to produce chemical weapons [redacted]
By late 1974 Iraq obtained critical production components from French and British firms and agent precursor chemicals from a Swiss company for the manufacture of small quantities of mustard agent. We believe this equipment was installed a research and development facility at Salman Pak about 20 kilometers (km) south of Baghdad. Construction on this facility began in early 1975 and the installation probably was operational by mid-1977 [redacted] Construction of a full-scale production complex also began in 1975 about 70 km northwest of Baghdad near the town of Samarra. [redacted] the Samarra site is the central installation for the Iraqi program to produce chemical warfare agents. The SAAD (expansion unknown) General Establishment is responsible for supervising construction of this facility. SAAD is subordinate to the State Organization for Technical Industries (SOTI) and both are ostensibly civilian organizations run by the Ministry of Industry. SOTI is an umbrella organizational set up to supervise Iraqi arms industry projects and is directly subordinate to the Director for Military Industries in the Ministry of Defense. In 1980 the director of SOTI was an Iraqi Army General [redacted]
In 1978 direction of the program was shifted to the Directorate of Chemical Warfare in the Ministry of Defense (see figure 1). Two years later the State Establishment for Pesticide Production (SEPP) associated with the Ministry of Chemical Industries was created as a cover organization to run the facility and obtain precursor chemicals for actual chemical agent production [redacted]
[redacted] with large-scale involvement of West European, particularly West German, firms in the program during the mid-1970s Baghdad began to phase out the limited Soviet involvement in the program. A Soviet engineering delegation arrived in late 1976 to negotiate a contract on the design and construction of a central laboratory for chemical warfare agent manufacture. The Iraqis, however, terminated the negotiations because of problems with price and equipment specifications and Iraqi fears that the Soviets would provide obsolete equipment. Moreover, with construction on the Samarra complex under way, Baghdad did not need the Soviets. In 1978, the USSR refused to provide Iraq with nerve agent samples that the Iraqis wanted to establish production and quality standards. The refusal seems to have severed direct Soviet involvement in the Iraqi program to produce chemical weapons, although the Soviets remain heavily involved in Iraqi efforts to acquire defensive chemical equipment [redacted]
Milestones in Iraq’s Development of Chemical Weapons
1961: Chemical defense school established
1964: Iraqi Chemical Corps established as a separate branch of Army service.
1966: Iraq requests Arab explore feasibility of supplying it with chemicals to develop toxic agents.
1968: Director of Iraqi Military Intelligence recommends development of chemical weapons for use against Israel.
1970: Military study recommends establishing a research center for producing chemical weapons.
1972: Research and development effort begun at the Iraqi Engineering Institute. Small amounts of tabun produced under Soviet direction.
1974: Iraq obtains critical components from French and British firms and precursor chemicals from Swiss.
1975: Construction begins at Salman Pak research and development facility and on the full-scale production complex at Samarra. Retired Egyptian general hired to head effort.
1976: Iraqis terminate negotiations with Soviets for design and construction of a production complex.
1977: Salman Pak Pilot Plant complete and operational.
1978: Soviets refuse to supply nerve agent samples.
1980: Samarra facility largely complete but insufficient equipment available for large-scale production.
1981-82: Contracts with West German firms to install additional equipment at Samarra. Iraq uses nonlethal chemical agents against Iranians.
1983: Iraq uses mustard agent against Iran on a limited scale.
1984: Iraq makes widespread use of mustard agent and limited use of the nerve agent tabun against Iranian forces near Al Basrah.
A decision to upgrade and expand the production program resulted in 1981 and 1982 contracts with West German firms for more equipment and engineering services [redacted remainder of paragraph]
Iraqi Organizations for Chemical Warfare Production
Ordered by SEPP indicate the Iraqis are using these patented processes in their chemical weapons effort. [redacted remainder of paragraph]
The Iraqis also contracted for several chemical laboratories from the Swiss to produce tabun during July 1982. We believe the tabun equipment was installed in the Samarra facility. Despite some early developmental problems, this equipment has now been
Blister and Nerve Agents
Blister agents are used primarily to cause medical casualties. They may also be used to restrict use of terrain, to slow movements, and to hamper use of material and installations. These agents affect the eyes and lungs and blister the skin. During World I mustard was the only blister agent in major use. It was recognized by a distinctive odor and had a fairly long duration of effectiveness under normal weather conditions. Since then, blister agents have been developed that are odorless and that vary in duration of effectiveness. The development of casualties can be delayed up to 24 hours. Protection from blister agents is extremely difficult. We believe some of the mustard being used by Iraq is in a dry or powder form in a silicate mixture and is more rapid acting and more effective in causing injury and/or death. [redacted]
Nerve agents denote a class of chemical compounds that disrupt the nerve impulse transmission in the body. These gases, such as tabun and sarin, are extremely rapid acting (within minutes) and may be absorbed through the skin or through the respiratory tract. The appearance of symptoms is faster for absorption through the respiratory tract than through the skin. Some of the symptoms for nerve gas poisoning are pin-pointing of the pupils, tightness in the chest, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, easy fatigue, and muscular twitching. Deaths from nerve gas poisoning can be attributed to respiratory and circulatory failure. Nerve gas is used to create a short-term respiratory hazard on the battlefield. [redacted]
brought on line to give the Iraqis a tabun production capability (they used tabun against the Iranians in March 1984) [redacted]
The early development problems surfaced when, in November 1982, the Iraqis fired shells containing locally produced tabun at animal targets and the tests were unsuccessful. The Iraqis concluded that their manufacturing process for tabun was incorrect and the chemical formulation was at fault. The director of the Iraqi chemical warfare program immediately traveled to Egypt to meet with his counterparts in the Egyptian chemical warfare program for assistance in producing tabun. The visit of an Egyptian delegation to the Samarra facility in early 1983 leads us to believe the Egyptians provided Iraq with the requested assistance [redacted]
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