Collection 1

January 1991 revisited...

SS-1 Ballistic Missiles...

The January 20th broadcast...

The Threat...

The Crime...

January 1991 revisited...

U.S. Missiles Knock Down Nine Scuds Over Saudi Cities

By Molly Moore and Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, January 21, 1991; Page A01

EASTERN SAUDI ARABIA, Jan. 21 - U.S. Patriot air-defense missiles intercepted nine Iraqi Scud missiles fired at key Saudi cities and military installations Sunday night and early this morning in a dramatic indication that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has managed to keep some of his offensive capability intact despite intensive air raids by allied warplanes.

Troops on the ground watched as Patriot missiles arched into the dark skies and collided with incoming Scuds, which exploded in a rain of fiery debris.

"All of a sudden, a Patriot took off and impacted with the incoming missile," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Paul Milligan, who was standing guard during the first of two attacks launched toward the Persian Gulf city of Dhahran.

"There was a burst of light, then burning debris fell to the ground."

Military officials said Patriot missiles intercepted five Scuds rocketing toward Dhahran and another four aimed toward the capital city, Riyadh, in central Saudi Arabia. The 10th Scud was reported to have landed in the Persian Gulf.

The booms of the Patriot missiles exploding out of their launchers echoed across both cities.

In Dhahran, air raid sirens sent many residents racing for bomb shelters and scrambling to pull on gas masks two times during the night, usually just as the first missile from the two separate volleys exploded over the desert.

Readings taken by U.S. military specialists near the areas where the Scuds were intercepted detected no chemical or nerve agents, according to military officials.

Several reporters saw a crater about 10 feet deep and 15 feet wide near the old Riyadh airport, now used as a military air base, correspondent Caryle Murphy reported from Riyadh. It was unclear what created the crater, but damage attributed to the explosive collisions of Patriots and Scuds was seen in several places in both cities.

The attacks directed against Dhahran and Riyadh were launched just hours after Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, emphasized the massive effort undertaken by the allied forces to comb the vast expanses of western Iraq for missiles aimed at Israel.

"The numbers have jumped around so much that it is almost impossible to predict how many {mobile missile launchers} they had to begin with and how many are left now," Schwarzkopf said during one of several interviews he conducted with U.S. television networks Sunday morning.

Increasing the uncertainty about how much punch Iraq has left after four days of war, Saddam said in a radio address that his arsenal had "so far only been used in part. Our ground forces have not entered the battle so far, and only a small part of our air force has been used."

Saddam said that "in the coming period, the response of Iraq will be on a larger scale."

As the war against Iraq entered its fifth day this morning, U.S. and allied air forces met with varying degrees of resistance from anti-aircraft artillery fire at targets in Iraq and Kuwait, prompting some military leaders to conclude that the Iraqi forces may be holding back some of their ammunition for future stages of the war.

In addition to the hunt for the elusive Scuds, there were other indications that the air phase of this war could last for weeks and that it will take ground combat to wrest Kuwait from the grip of Iraqi troops.

Some field commanders say they believe the Iraqis may be moving some of their military operations, including those of Saddam, into heavily populated residential areas as a shield against potential attack. American military officials have said repeatedly that they are attempting to avoid damage to civilian neighborhoods in their air assaults.

Allied warplanes have been forced to make repeated bombing runs at Iraqi communications facilities as Saddam's military continues to erect new communications equipment to replace damaged relay centers, according to military leaders.

"A lot more is still to be done with air strikes. We are not talking about ground warfare for some time yet," one British official said.


© Copyright 1991 The Washington Post

SS-1 Ballistic Missiles...

The original Scud missile was of Soviet origin, dating back to the 1950's, and the geo-political military insecurity of that post-World War Two period, known globally as 'The Cold War'.

SS-1 Scud missiles are fairly crude ballistic devices, not dissimilar from the original German V2 model, which was used in vain by Adolf Hitler as his futile last resort against London during the summer of 1945. These tactical-level ballistic missiles were first designated R-11 SS-1a SCUD A. They were capable of delivering 40 kiloton nuclear warheads 81 miles (130 km). Iraq acquired 819 of the later R-17 SS-1c SCUD B derivative from the former Soviet Union, before indigenously developing their own Al-Hussein and Al-Abbas extended-range versions by combining parts from Soviet–supplied Scuds and local-built manufacture.

The standard Scud B missile has a range of up to 174 miles (280 km), and can carry a chemical or high explosive warhead weighing up to 2,205lb (1000 kg). They are liquid-fuelled, using hydrazine and red fuming nitric acid. The Scud B is 37ft. 4 ¾ in. (11.4 m) long, has a diameter of 2ft. 9in. (0.84 m), and has a launch weight of 14,043 lb. (6,370 kg).

A Scud B missile approaches its target at close to Mach 4, and the warhead can be set to air-burst at a predetermined altitude. The slightly later Scud C has a longer range of 280 miles (450 km), with a circular error probability (CEP - circular area around target, within which the warhead has a 50% chance of hitting its target) of 1,205 yards (1,000 m). This greater range was achieved by means of some improvement to the propellant efficiency. Final models had improved CEPs of as little as 305 yards (280 m), whilst carrying a warload of 200 kilotons yield. The standard Scud B can carry a 555 kg chemical warhead 280 km with a CEP of 930m.

The Iraqi Al-Hussein missile may have had a smaller chemical warhead payload capacity of perhaps 136 kg. This would ideally be deployed at the height of around 4000 feet in the form of an airburst in order to gain maximum effect through drift, although this tactic is relative to density of effect. The affected area would depend on wind conditions, but would be expected to reach four kilometres downwind with an area half-a-kilometre wide at the point nearest the burst. It was believed that Iraq procured some 75 chemical or biological capable warheads. The United Nations Special Commission on Iraq has recovered a number of these 'special' warheads since the 1991 Gulf War. A currently unavailable 1991 U.S. CIA report supposedly mentions 150 of these warheads.

During the long and bitter war between Iraq and Iran (1980-1988), this class of missile was launched by both sides. In 1984 Iraq embarked on the Condor-2 missile project jointly with Argentina and Egypt. This was an enhanced version of the Argentinian Condor-1 weather research missile, a two-stage vehicle, with a range of up to 1,000km and a payload of 500kg. This work was carried on in Argentina until 1987, when they pulled out through a lack of funds. Iraq and Egypt continued with this development work, and then turned their attention to modifying Scud missiles. Iraq was at a disadvantage as Tehran was much further from the common border than was Baghdad. The standard Scud B did not have enough range to reach this target. This led Iraq to embark on a covert project to improve the performance of their own missiles, in order to strike their neighbour's capital city, and to develop the technology to become self-sufficient in terms of indigenous missile production. Iraq supplied most of the funding for this project, said to have been around $5 billion.

Iraq had built a research and development centre, known as 'Saad 16', located in the north of the country near Mosul, and also built up an extensive procurement network throughout Western Europe to gather the necessary resources for this work. Egypt built its own secret facility known as Factory 17. This led to enhanced versions being produced. The Egyptian modified Scud missile was known as 'Badr-2000', and had a reduced load capacity of 275kg, with an increased range of 600km. Iraq was alleged to have purchased over 120 of these missiles from Egypt and used these as part of their blitz on Tehran, although it should be noted here that this claim is not bourne out by UNSCOM/UNMOVIC records. It has further been claimed elsewhere that in 1988 French engineers upgraded the Scud missile's inertial navigation systems with sophisticated units said to have been produced and supplied by the electronics company Sagem, and also that a small team of contracted Brazilian engineers and technicians went to Saad-16 in October 1989 to carry out some other upgrading work on the missiles.

Between them, the Iraqi and Egyptian engineers modified the standard Scud missiles by reducing the size of the warheads from 1,000 kg to 500kg, and increased the fuel capacity by fitting extra sections from other Scuds to increase the capacity of the fuel and oxidizer tanks from about 8,700 pounds to about 11,000 pounds. This would increase the range from 300km to 600/650 km (186 to 373+ miles by a second source) (412 miles by a third). Other enhancements were said to have taken place by means of 'improved combustion efficiency'.

These Scuds were then known as 'Al-Hussein' missiles, named after a revered Shia figure. Iraq was believed by some to have indigenously built around 80 of these missiles. The Iraqi missile development programme (Badr 2000) was initially called Project 395. The programme to build and extend the range of the Scuds was part of what was known as Project 144. The project to indigenously build Scud engines was named Project 1728. These missiles became notoriously inaccurate after some of this work, falling as far as ten miles from their targets. Some were seen to break-up in flight, this was claimed to be primarily due to these missiles flying higher and faster than their standard counterparts, possibly as fast as Mach 6. Egyptian and Korean scientists were said to have at first attempted to overcome these problems without much success, but Kamel Hussein's 1995 defection later revealed that Iraq has succeeded in achieving separating warhead technology by means of explosive-bolt detonation.

Contemporaneous literature indicates that Iraq launched a total of somewhere between 300 and 360 Scud missiles, all fitted with explosive warheads, into Iran. Through February to April 1988, during a period known as 'The War of the Cities', approximately 200 of these missiles were launched into Iran by Iraq. In all, some 2000 Iranians were killed by these missiles, and over 6000 injured. At least two million people fled Tehran, this being approximately one quarter of the resident population. Some of the missiles were reported to have exploding above ground, to clearly send the message that Iraq could deliver poison gas to the Iranian capital if it so wished.

During 1988 Iraq announced that it had developed a second Scud derivative, known as the Al-Abbas missile. This had a 300kg warhead and a range of 900 km. By 1989 Iraq had demonstrated the first stage of the Tammuz-1, which was to be a three-stage rocket built to carry a satellite into orbit. This was to use five Scud B boosters fastened together. A month later they claimed to have developed the Al-Aabed, an intermediate-range three-stage ballistic missile version. This was believed to similarly powered by five Scuds and capable of carrying a 750 kg payload 2000 km.

In 1990, Iraq claimed it had tested another missile over a range of 1200 km. This version was named Al-Hijara or Al-Hijaara al Sijjil (the powerful stones). Three examples of this specific missile were used against Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, landing for some reason in the near-empty Negev desert. These 3 missiles were later claimed to have had 'concrete' warheads.

© 2003/Updated 2006 SCUDWATCH.

(This article may be further revised at a future date, as SCUDWATCH gathers extant topic information.)

(Historical sources cited here include Dilip Hiro, Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander.)

The January 20th broadcast...

The most authoritative histories of the 1991 Gulf War, written as books, have been by Dilip Hiro and Rick Atkinson (see Collection 2).

Dilip Hiro's account of the Gulf War, 'Desert Storm to Desert Shield', published in the U.K. by HarperCollins (ISBN 0 246 13879 3) and Routledge elsewhere, contains this passage on page 326:

"In the coming period," declared Saddam Hussein on Baghdad Radio on January 20th, "the response of Iraq will be on a larger scale, using all the means and potential that God has given us and which we have so far only used in part. Our ground forces have not entered the battle so far, and only a small part of our air force has been used. The army's air force has not been used, nor has the navy."

"The weight and effect of our ready missile force has not yet been applied in full."

© 1992 Dilip Hiro

The Threat...

On January 9th 1991 American President George Herbert Walker Bush sent a letter by the hand of James A. Baker, his Secretary of State, to Saddam Hussein, President of the Republic of Iraq.

Mr. Baker in turn handed the letter to Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, at a six-hour meeting to discuss possible Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait before the expiration of the U.N. deadline, then just five days away, as called for by U.N. Resolution 678 (dated November 29th 1990), which demanded that Iraq complied fully with resolution 660 [1990], and subsequent resolutions 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674 and 677, with full regard to Iraq withdrawing unconditionally from Kuwait.

Mr. Aziz read this letter, and considering it to be threatening, refused to accept the missive.

As part of the letter, President Bush had written:

"Let me explain that the United States will not tolerate the use of chemical or biological weapons, nor the destruction of the oil wells and installations in Kuwait. Furthermore, you will be held directly responsible for any act of terrorism against any member of the coalition. If you order any such reckless act, the American people will ask me for the hardest reprisal and you, as well as your country will pay a terrible price."

"I am writing this letter not to threaten you, but to notify you I am doing this without the least sense of ease because the American people is not at odds with the Iraqi people."

Source: Kuwait Information Centre (see below:)

On January 15th 1991 President Bush signed National Security Directive 54. This document authorised US action in the Gulf to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi occupiers:

National Security Directive 54



January 15, 1991



SUBJECT: Responding to Iraqi Aggression in the Gulf (U)


10. Should Iraq resort to using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, be found supporting terrorist acts against U.S. or coalition partners anywhere in the world, or destroy Kuwait's oil fields, it shall become an explicit objective of the United States to replace the current leadership of Iraq. I also want to preserve the option of authorizing additional punitive actions against Iraq.



(GHW Bush)

© 1991 The White House

The Crime...

'The Crime - Iraq's invasion of Kuwait - Events and Documents from Day 1 to Liberation.'

Published by the Kuwait Information Centre in Cairo (1992)

This book documents the events of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War in two sections, the first being a 350 page diary which runs from Thursday August 2nd 1990, the day of the Iraqi invasion; through to Friday March 1st 1991, the day of the ceasefire. The second section contains contemporaneous documentation.

An entry from the diary section for January 21st 1991 states:

'On the fourth day of the Kuwait liberation war, anti-Iraq international coalition troops develop their attack on the Iraqi forces, by advancing on the Kuwaiti borders, within the context of final preparations to launch the ground offensive. Trenches have been dug and fortified positions have been set up. Meantime, Iraq launched at dawn ten Scud missiles at Ryadh and Dahran (sic), which have been intercepted in the air by patriot missiles.

Another entry for the same day recalls:

'A U.S. military spokesman announced yesterday at noon that, in the past twenty-four hours, the coalition military aircraft mounted 3000 sorties during which they had downed five Iraqi aircraft, bringing the number of sorties since the start of Operation Desert Storm operation on Thursday to 7000.

© 1992 The Kuwait Information Centre in Cairo