The question as to whether or not Iraq actually used chemical weapon-loaded Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War is still an open one. Further to this, there still remain outstanding questions about the claims that Iraq possessed illegally-retained Scud Missiles in the period prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. There is no complete record to draw upon and no one organisation has ever been seen to have compiled an exhaustive and comprehensive analysis.
- A review by a former member of the Dhahran Scud Watchers Club
Proceedings of the Committee...
The United Kingdom House of Commons Defence Select Committee published its first 'Report, together with the Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report, Minutes of Evidence and Memoranda' on the subject of Gulf War Syndrome, and ordered the printing thereof, on October 25th 1995.
As written evidence received by the committee, part of a letter from a Mr. Richard Turnbull concerning his Gulf War experiences is included in this document. Mr. Turnbull served in the Royal Air Force during the conflict as an NBC technician. Part of his duties were to give instruction on the use of chemical monitoring devices, these being primarily NAIADs and CAMs (Nerve Agent Immobilised enzyme Alarm and Detector(s), and Chemical Agent Monitor(s)).
Part of his testimony as published in the HoCDSC report is reproduced here:
"On the night of 20/21 January 1991 a Scud missile was intercepted by a Patriot missile over Dharran (sic) airfield and the warhead exploded on landing 400-500 yds from our position. Within seconds all the pre-positioned NAIADs and our CAMs were sounding the alarm. We donned full protective clothing and carried out three residual vapour tests (RVDs) as per SOP. All turned positive indicating the presence of chemical agents. We informed the NBC cell as we were supposed to and took cover. After 20 minutes we were told it was a false alarm caused by unburnt aircraft from aircraft taking off and stood down to all clear. Twenty minutes later we were again put into NBC black (the highest alert state meaning chemical weapons have been detected) with full IPE (Individual Protective Equipment) for eight hours even though there had been no further attack. Never before or after this incident did all the NAIADs or CAMs go off together or residual vapour detector tests show positive even though there were many mass aircraft take offs, and the day after this incident I took one of the NAIADs into a COLPRO (collective protection shelter) and was unable to get it to give the alarm in the presence of aircraft fuel, although it worked perfectly with test substances."
SCUDWATCH NOTE: In a series of telephone conversations with this writer, Mr. Turnbull has informed SCUDWATCH that chemical detectors had also sounded a positive alarm at the Al-Gosaibi Hotel in Al Khobar that particular night, some 5Km from the main airbase at Dhahran, where a number of Royal Air Force personnel were accommodated. He also added that most of the wreckage from the Scud missile had been later collected by personnel who had orders, but wore no unit insignia by which they could be identified. Mr. Turnbull has since reiterated his earlier allegations, clearly stating that he had been on the night-shift on the night in question, 20th/21st January 1991, and that 27 detectors had alarmed after a Scud missile attack whilst he was on duty that night. Mr. Turnbull became ill after his experiences and today receives a war pension. No further substantive investigations were made, or since have been made, concerning Mr. Turnbull's allegations relating to these dates.
© 1995 Parliamentary (Crown) Copyright
Around the Houses...
Hansard for the House of Lords (February 2nd 1998), records Lord Burnham speaking of:
"Seeing a newspaper report which alleged 6000 people were suffering from Gulf illness in this Country."
In this same debate, Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked about:
"Incomplete information, incomplete records, and stories not yet fully confirmed as to whether chemical weapons were released, and, if so, in what areas?"
From the same debate in the House of Lords (which was labelled as being an Un-starred Question), Hansard reports:
... In the MoD paper we are told that; "What can be found will be made public in due course."
... and that the Government intends: "That veterans should have access to whatever information the MoD possesses which might be relevant to their illnesses and is determined that what can be found will be made public."
Lord McNair, in the Upper House, on March 24th 1999, said:
"If one accepts that these servicemen and women are indeed suffering from illnesses, we have to ask why they are undiagnosed. There are two reasons which occur to me for this situation. The first concerns the state of medical understanding. It is possible that the agents which have caused the illnesses may be individually, or in combination, unfamiliar though not unknown to science, as poisons or contaminants."
"The second possibility is that there are political reasons why these illnesses have not been officially diagnosed . . . I do understand the difficulties both in terms of revealing sensitive military information and laying the MoD open to large claims for damages."
Over two years previously (December 10th 1996), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defence, Earl Howe, read a statement to the House of Lords, which he was repeating, as it was being almost simultaneously read in another place, by another person, Armed Forces Minister Nicholas Soames, in the House of Commons:
"... Finally, Madam Speaker, my department has been keeping a very careful watch on the many reported incidents of chemical and biological weapons used in the Gulf. We have so far traced around 100 of these claims, all of which have proved unfounded. But it does seem likely that some weapons material may have been released, after hostilities ceased, by the destruction of the Iraqi ammunition dump at bunker 73 at Al-Khamisiyah."
In a debate in the House of Commons on the subject of Iraq, on February 17th 1998 Member of Parliament Dr. Stephen Ladyman said:
"I have seen a published Central Intelligence Agency memorandum that shows that by the end of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), he, (Saddam Hussein) had become very skilled at deploying nerve gas."
© 1996, 1998, 1999 Parliamentary (Crown) Copyright.
On April 23rd 2002 Mr. Roy Beggs, M.P. for East Antrim, asked fellow M.P. Mr. David Laws:
"Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is essential that there should be no suspicion whatever that there has been a cover-up for the delay in finding out the cause of Gulf war illness?"
Mr. Laws responded and quoted from the 1995 Defence Select Committee report on Gulf War Syndrome, which had stated:
"In responding to allegations of a Gulf War Syndrome MoD has been quick to deny but slow to investigate. . . MoD's response has been reactive rather than proactive and characterised throughout by scepticism, defensiveness and general torper."
© 2002 Parliamentary (Crown) Copyright
Early Day Motion 1254...
Early Day Motion 1254
INQUIRY INTO GULF WAR ILLNESSES
As raised by Mr. David Laws M.P. (Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for the Yeovil Constituency):
That this House notes that Gulf veterans report more ill health than other servicemen, further notes that a number of servicemen have now died due to illness apparently acquired following service during the Gulf War; acknowledges that the Government has not ruled out an independent public enquiry into Gulf War illnesses; believes that a public inquiry would guarantee that scrutiny of this matter is fully independent and is best placed to study all available evidence; including the extensive international research programme; and calls upon the Government to launch a full public inquiry into Gulf War illnesses in order to ensure that 11 years of uncertainty and confusion for Gulf War veterans is finally brought to an end and to guarantee that existing servicemen and women are not exposed to similar risks in the future.
© 2002 Parliamentary (Crown) Copyright
Monday, 9 June 2003
John Pugh (Southport, Liberal Democrat):
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether extended SCUD missiles have been found in post-war Iraq.
Geoff Hoon (Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence):
As at 9 June 2003, Coalition Forces had not found any extended-range SCUD missiles in Iraq. Coalition Forces are initiating investigations into sites which may be connected with Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction in breach of United Nations resolutions, and into other sources of evidence such as documentation or interviews with relevant Iraqi personnel. Investigations are at an early stage and we expect gathering and collating evidence from the various sources to be a long and complex task. We will aim to release information concerning evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programmes when and where appropriate, as we did before the conflict began.
Monday, 23 February 2004
Alan Simpson (Nottingham South, Labour):
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his assessment was of the number of Al Hussein ballistic missiles possessed by Iraq prior to the onset of war; how this assessment differed from the assessment of the weapons inspectors; how many of the Al Hussein missiles had their long range capabilities removed prior to the onset of war; how many Al Hussein missiles were used against coalition forces during the war in Iraq; and how many Al Hussein missiles have been identified in Iraq since the war ended.
Geoff Hoon (Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence):
The Al Hussein missile is a version of the Scud B missile modified to increase its range to 650 km. As stated in the Government's dossier on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, it was assessed that Iraq had retained up to 20 Al Hussein missiles. These were either complete missiles; missiles broken down for concealment; or separate missile components capable of being reassembled. The UNMOVIC weapons inspectors assessed that it was possible that Iraq possessed a small number of Al Hussein missiles. The UNMOVIC report of March 2003 stated that the consumption of some Scud and Al Hussein missiles could not be independently verified and there were also unanswered questions about the number of indigenously produced warheads and training engines destroyed by Iraq. We have no knowledge of any Al Hussein missiles being modified to reduce their long range capabilities.
There were no Al Hussein missiles used against coalition forces during the war in Iraq and, to date, there have been no Al Hussein missiles identified in Iraq since the war ended.
© 2003, 2004 Hansard (Crown) Copyright
From an Independent newspaper report, "Inquiry into causes of Gulf War syndrome announced", dated June 14th 2004:
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said last night: "We do not believe that a public inquiry is appropriate at this time. Any scientific research is likely to be able to answer the basic question of why some Gulf veterans are ill."
© 2004 The Independent
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence...
Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Pre-War Intelligence Assessment on Iraq (Part Six)
Conclusions Regarding the Intelligence Community's Analysis of Iraq's Delivery Systems
July 9, 2004
Conclusion 65: The Intelligence Community assessment that Iraq retains a small force of Scud-type ballistic missiles was reasonable based on the information provided to the Committee. The estimate that Iraq retained "up to a few dozen Scud-variant missiles," was clearly explained in the body of the national intelligence estimate to be an assessment based "on no direct evidence" and was explained in the key judgments to be based on "gaps in Iraqi accounting to the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM)."
Conclusion 66: The assessment that Iraq was in the final stages of development of the al Samoud missile, may be preparing to deploy the al Samoud and was deploying the al Samoud and Ababil-100 short-range ballistic missile, both which exceed the 150-km United Nations range limit, evolved in a logical progression over time, had a clear foundation in the intelligence reporting, and were reasonable judgments based on the intelligence available to the Committee.
Conclusion 67: The assessment that Iraq was developing medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) capabilities was a reasonable judgment based on the intelligence provided to the Committee.
Conclusion 68: The Intelligence Community assessment in the key judgments section of the national intelligence estimate that Iraq was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) "probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents" overstated both what was known about the mission of Iraq's small UAVs and what intelligence analysts judged about the likely mission of Iraq's small UAVs. The Air Force footnote which indicated that biological weapons (BW) delivery was a possible, though unlikely, mission more accurately reflected the body of intelligence reporting.
Conclusion 69: Other than the Air Force's dissenting footnote, the Intelligence Committee failed to discuss possible conventional missions for Iraq's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) which were clearly noted in the intelligence reporting and which most analysts believed were the UAV's primary missions.
Conclusion 70: The Intelligence Community's assessment that Iraq's procurement of United States specific mapping software for its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) "strongly suggests that Iraq is investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United States" was not supported by the intelligence provided to the Committee.
Conclusion 71: The Central Intelligence Agency's failure to share all of the intelligence reporting regarding Iraq's attempts to acquire United States mapping software with other Intelligence Community agencies left those analysts with an incomplete understanding of the issue. This lack of information sharing may have led some analysts to agree to a position that they otherwise would not have supported.
SOURCE: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq (U.S. Senate, 2004), pages 234–238.
© 2004 US Senate
Lord Lloyd's report...
November 17th 2004
"To investigate the circumstances that have led to the ill health, and in some cases death, of over 6000 British troops following deployment to the first Gulf War, and to report."
433. Particular interest later arose in the alarms used by a Czech unit near the Saudi - Iraqi border where many US troops were massed. In July 1993, the Czech Minister of Defence confirmed that this unit had detected the chemical nerve agent sarin in the air during the early stages of the Gulf War. At first the Czech findings were regarded as suspect, but later it was recognised that the Czech equipment used was sophisticated. Moreover it was used by scientific personnel, as opposed to the relatively untrained personnel used by other countries.
434. If some of these alarms were genuine the atmospheric contamination could have arisen from the bombardment of Iraqi storage bunkers or production plants. Possibly a small contribution was made by the few SCUD missile attacks reported in the early days of the war. The Inquiry heard evidence about these from several witnesses.
© 2004 The Rt Hon The Lord Lloyd of Berwick
Lord Butler's report...
Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors
Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 14th July 2004
204. In the period from 1996 to the withdrawal of United Nations inspectors in December 1998, the JIC continued to assess that, because of the inherent uncertainties, Iraq might retain variously "a small number", "a handful" or "some" ballistic missiles. While UNSCOM concluded in 1997 that all but two Scud missiles acquired by Iraq from the Soviet Union had been accounted for, this did not cover some other indigenously produced missiles which Iraq claimed to have destroyed. We have observed in this context remarks attributed to Ambassador Ekeus (Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, 1991-1997) that a number of Iraqi missiles, put variously in the range 6-25, remained unaccounted for. We have also noted information from one intelligence source in 1998 suggesting that Iraq retained sufficient complete missiles and components to allow it to assemble up to 16 missiles in total.
© 2004 The Rt Hon The Lord Butler of Brockwell / Crown Copyright
SCUDWATCH NOTE 1: Lord Butler's review does not consider any evidence borne of the efforts of the UNSCOM or UNMOVIC inspection processes and direct official discussions with Iraqi governmental delegations post-1997.
SCUDWATCH NOTE 2: The following page is a collection of collected and collated public-domain information relating to the abovementioned comments made by Ambassador Rolf Ekeus. These details were not included in Lord Butler's report.
Early Day Motion 1088...
Early Day Motion 1088
CONDUCT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY IN RELATION TO THE WAR AGAINST IRAQ
As raised by Mr. Douglas Hogg M.P.
That this House believes that there should be a select committee of seven honourable Members, being members of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to review the way in which the responsibilities of Government were discharged in relation to Iraq and all matters relevant thereto, in the period leading up to military action in that country in March 2003 and in its aftermath.
© 2005 Parliamentary (Crown) Copyright
Report of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and how they compare with Postwar Assessments...
September 8, 2006
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence 2006 Report, Final Conclusions, Part One
Original Editor's Note: Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence; "Postwar Findings About Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments," is released. This SSCI report looks at what, if any information, shared by Iraqi exiles was used in intelligence estimates along with comparing prewar intelligence estimates regarding WMD to postwar findings. Republican Pat Roberts was chairman of a bipartisan staff. Below are the significant conclusions from the declassified report.
Conclusions Regarding Iraq's WMD Capabilities
Conclusion 1: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Information obtained after the war supports the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research's (INR) assessment in the NIE that the Intelligence Community lacked persuasive evidence that Baghdad had launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.
Conclusion 2: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq's acquisition of high strength aluminum tubes was intended for an Iraqi nuclear program. The findings do support the assessments in the NIE of the Department of Energy's Office of Intelligence and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that the aluminum tubes were likely intended for a conventional rocket program.
Conclusion 3: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake" from Africa. Postwar findings support the assessment in the NIE of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are "highly dubious."
Conclusion 4: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that "Iraq has biological weapons" and that "all key aspects of Iraq's offensive biological weapons (BW) program are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf war."
Conclusion 5: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq possessed, or ever developed, mobile facilities for producing biological warfare (BW) agents.
Conclusion 6: Concerns existed within the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Directorate of Operations (DO) prior to the war about the credibility of the mobile biological weapons program source code-named Curveball. The concerns were based, in part, on doubts raised by the foreign intelligence service that handled Curveball and a third service. The Committee has no information that these concerns were conveyed to policymakers, including members of the U.S. Congress, prior to the war. The Committee is continuing to investigate issues regarding prewar concerns about Curveball's credibility.
Conclusion 7: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq "has chemical weapons" or "is expanding its chemical industry to support chemical weapons (CW) production."
Conclusion 8: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq had missiles which exceeded United Nations (UN) range limits. The findings do not support the assessment that Iraq likely retained a covert force of SCUD variant short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).
Conclusion 9: Postwar findings do not support the 2002 national intelligence estimate (NIE) assessment that Iraq had a developmental program for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) "probably intended to deliver biological agents" or that an effort to procure U.S. mapping software "strongly suggests that Iraq is investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United States." Postwar findings support the view of the Air Force, joined by DIA and the Army, in an NIE published in January 2003, that Iraq's UAVs were primarily intended for reconnaissance.
Appendix A: CIA'S IRAQ WMD RETROSPECTIVE SERIES
(U) In this appendix, the Committee notes a number of principal findings of the reports that have been completed, to illustrate what the CIA now assesses to be the case concerning prewar Iraq.
A. Disposition of Iraqi Scud-type SRBMs
(U) The Scud retrospective concluded that Iraq in 1991 probably destroyed any remaining Scud-type short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs). The CIA has not found definitive evidence to confirm this destruction. After 1991, Iraq contined to hide components, production equipment, and documents for later reconstitution, but by 1996 Baghdad probably had destroyed or declared to the UN all those items. Additional components could be uncovered, but even if such items exist, they would probably be remnants of Iraq's Scud program.
September 8, 2006 - Ordered to be printed
SOURCE: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings About Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments (U.S. Senate, 2006), pages 52-59.
© 2006 US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
SCUDWATCH NOTE: The abovementioned January 4, 2005 CIA document is not yet available in the public domain.
SCUDWATCH will continue to search for it, and will hopefully publish it on this website as and when it becomes available.
Testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry...
Carne Ross, formerly the First Secretary at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, gave evidence to the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry in London on Monday, 12 July 2010. His evidence, both written and oral, concerning claims about Iraq's Scud missile holdings in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is reproduced below:
Carne Ross: Written Testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry, 12 July 2010
The assessment of Iraq's threat
17. It remains my view that the internal government assessment of Iraq's capabilities was intentionally and substantially exaggerated in public government documents during 2002 and 2003. Throughout my posting in New York, it was the UK and US assessment that while there were many unanswered questions about Iraq's WMD stocks and capabilities, we did not believe that these amounted to a substantial threat. At no point did we have any firm evidence, from intelligence sources or otherwise, of significant weapons holdings: most of the unanswered questions derived from discrepancies in Iraq's accounting for its past stocks and the destruction of these stocks.
18. The UK believed that the Iraqi threat had been effectively contained. Indeed, at many of the UK/US FCO/State Department bilateral discussions of Iraq policy which I attended between 1998-2002, discussion would often begin with an overall assessment of whether containment was working or not. Invariably, the conclusion, shared by both the US and UK, was positive. The last of these discussions that I attended took place in June 2002.
19. Before I took the New York post in late 1997, I was briefed by relevant departments in the FCO. At Non-Proliferation Department (NPD), which was responsible for the Iraq disarmament issue, I was told that the UK did not believe that Iraq possessed any substantial stocks of CW, BW or nuclear weapons or the means to deliver them. None of the intelligence I saw subsequently in the 4 1/2 years that I covered the issue, where I read on most days a thick folder of "humint" and "sigint"14 relating to Iraq, or the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments, during this period, substantially changed this assessment.
20. In all the policy documents I reviewed in preparation for this testimony, there is no mention prior to 9/11 of any increase in the threat assessment for Iraq. Instead, these documents discuss the difficulty in maintaining support for sanctions in the absence of clear evidence of WMD violations by Iraq. Post 9/11, the prevailing FCO view is summed up in a minute from the Political Director to the Foreign Secretary on 22 March 2002 to the effect that the assessment of Iraq's WMD capability had not changed over recent years, but that the UK reaction to that assessment had changed15. This minute explains that there had been "not much" advance in Iraq's WMD programmes over recent years and that they had not been stepped up. The minute adds that there was no evidence whatsoever of any connection between Al Qaida terrorists and the Saddam Hussein regime. This judgement is repeated in many different documents during this period16.
21. What changed however was the presentation of that evidence, notably in the WMD dossier published in September 2002. In these public documents, of which there were several, the nuanced judgements contained in the internal JIC assessments, for instance, were massaged into more robust and frightening statements about Iraq's WMD capability. For instance, in all the years of my work on Iraq, it was the UK assessment that Iraq might have a "handful" or up to 12 dismantled Scud missiles remaining of its originally many hundreds of imported Scud missiles. This estimate was based on a careful accounting, corroborated with UNSCOM and Iraqi records, of the numbers of missiles imported, minus those expended in warfare or destroyed by UNSCOM's inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War. In the September dossier, up to 12 Scuds became up to 20 Al-Hussain variant extended range Scud missiles, a significant increase, for which there was no corresponding basis in the intelligence data. These Scud missiles were apparently the basis for the government's claim that Iraq could launch WMD within 45 minutes, although the dossier offered no explanation for the 45 minute claim. This claim also had no basis in firm intelligence17. There were in fact no dismantled Scud missiles, of any variant, found in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
22. In another illustration of this process of deliberate public exaggeration, in March 2002, a paper on Iraq's WMD was sent to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) which included the claim that "if Iraq's weapons programmes remain unchecked, Iraq could develop a crude nuclear device in about five years"18. This was not...
14 "Humint" is intelligence derived from human sources such as defectors or agents in-country. "Sigint" is derived from the interception and decryption of Iraqi electronic signals, and was generally regarded as a more reliable source.
15 quoted in his testimony
16 FOOTNOTE 16 REDACTED ON GROUNDS OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
17 The 45-minute claim is fundamentally unclear but seems to relate to the time required to prepare a Scud missile for launch. I prepared a briefing document on this subject in advance of the 1991 Gulf War.
18 Such a claim, by the way, would be true of almost any moderately-industrialized country.
23. Notably, the WMD dossier and other public statements on the alleged threat said very little about the means of delivery of WMD, apart from dubious and exaggerated statements like that about the alleged number of Scud missiles. Yet any coherent threat assessment would include such, as no WMD can be delivered except by missile, aircraft, rocket or artillery shell (unless by terrorists and there was no evidence of Iraqi collusion with such). In fact, Iraq's conventional military capabilities, in terms of armies, air force and naval forces, were far less than they had been at the time of the 1991 Gulf War. In particular, Iraq's air force was reduced to the point of almost total ineffectiveness and presented no plausible match for allied air assets based in the region, as allied activity in the NFZs had amply demonstrated over many years. Thus, short of the alleged Scud missiles, Iraq had scant available means to deliver any WMD against its neighbours or anyone else. It is striking that this crucial element of the overall assessment was absent in the dossier and other public statements about the alleged threat.
24. This process of exaggeration was gradual, and proceeded by accretion and editing from document to document, in a way that allowed those participating to convince themselves that they were not engaged in blatant dishonesty. But this process led to highly misleading statements about the UK assessment of the Iraqi threat that were, in their totality, lies.
From the transcript of Carne Ross's oral evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, 12 July 2010:
1 CARNE ROSS: ...Indeed, the JIC assessment of March 2002 makes that really clear, that the abiding characteristic of the intelligence is its imperfect and patchy nature. When you then look at the public statements, the PLP paper, for instance, or the September 2002 dossier, a very uncertain and patchy picture is converted into positive claims of knowledge of threat, which I think is a process that is not justified.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I would like to raise one specific point, moving on to the missiles sphere, but before I do, assume that the JIC assessments -- I'm not now talking about other public statements but the JIC assessments of 2002 and others subsequently -- it was realistic, or wasn't it, that Iraq could soon have posed a threat to -- a WMD-based threat, at least to UK interests, if not to the UK as a geographical target?
CARNE ROSS: I found this claim absolutely extraordinary. I mean, we never believed that in the time I worked on it. We never argued it to allies or others. Because the threat comprised three major elements, only one of which was actually touched upon in things like the dossier. One is a reasonable holding of the WMD in the first place, CW, BW or nuclear weapon. The second is the means to deliver it, and that part of it was very underdiscussed in the dossier and elsewhere. I mean, the only means that the dossier talks about is these missing Scud missiles, whereas I say in my testimony that this number was elevated from up to 12, or a handful to up to 20, but we still -- I mean, I remember talking to the missile experts in UNSCOM, which were quite serious guys, and we talked about these engines, the missing warheads, and nobody ever believed that these things actually existed. We thought there might be one or two dismantled devices left in some kind of warehouse somewhere, but there was no hard evidence of Scuds being wheeled around in the desert waiting to be fired. If there had been, we would have seen them. The third part of the threat is the intention, and there was no evidence of that either.
THE CHAIRMAN: I just want to take a point on the March 2002 JIC assessment. Do you recall having seen it at the time?
CARNE ROSS: I saw all the JIC assessments and I was asked to comment on some of them.
THE CHAIRMAN: I want to come to something you say in your statement, because you have just mentioned about the missile side of all this. In paragraph 21 of your statement, you note that in the September 2002 dossier -- that's the dossier, not the JIC assessment -- up to 12 Scuds become up to 20 Al Hussein variant, extended-range Scud missiles --
CARNE ROSS: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: -- and you claim that there is no corresponding basis for this in the intelligence data.
CARNE ROSS: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think it is only fair to draw attention to the fact that --
CARNE ROSS: It is mentioned in the JIC assessment.
THE CHAIRMAN: The JIC assessment in March 2002 says: "Iraq has also retained some 20 Al Hussein missiles." That is reflected in the September JIC assessment --
CARNE ROSS: Sure.
THE CHAIRMAN: -- that Iraq retained up to 20 Al Husseins.
CARNE ROSS: You have to remember, though, as you know, that a JIC assessment is not the raw data, it is an assessment of the raw data, and I don't recall ever seeing in the raw data any claim that they had up to 20 Al Husseins. I mean, it was -- the 12 came from the accounting. They had 600-odd imported from North Korea or wherever it was. Where would they have got the other eight from? That's the other thing --
THE CHAIRMAN: What I want to establish --
CARNE ROSS: -- the extraordinary thing.
THE CHAIRMAN: -- though, is the basis of 12 Scuds is the material balance estimate.
CARNE ROSS: Up to 12.
THE CHAIRMAN: Up to 12.
CARNE ROSS: A handful, in fact, in most of our assessments it was called a handful.
THE CHAIRMAN: The 20 Al Husseins is quite different in that it is based on a series of JIC assessments.
CARNE ROSS: Well, there is one JIC assessment --
THE CHAIRMAN: It is a continuing statement. They don't change their assessment --
CARNE ROSS: It starts in March 2002.
THE CHAIRMAN: It is just when you say in your statement, "Up to 12 Scuds become up to 20 Al Hussein variant, extended-range Scud missiles", it is not the case that somebody is rewriting what the JIC assessed in different language and with a lower number. You were putting together two differently-sourced pieces --
CARNE ROSS: I see the point you are making, yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. That's all.
CARNE ROSS: But I think the question, though, that I would put is: what was the underlying intelligence that led to the number being changed?
THE CHAIRMAN: Happily, that is something that this Inquiry can and does look into.
CARNE ROSS: Good.
© 2010 The Chilcot Inquiry