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


An open letter to Rod Barton, former UNSCOM/UNMOVIC/ISG weapons inspector and advisor to David Kay.


Hello Rod,


I read with great interest your interview with Luke Ryland at Wot Is It Good 4 about the Iraq weapons inspection process. I would firstly like to take this opportunity to thank you and to congratulate you for your openness and honesty in publicly bringing forward these globally important matters. Secondly, if possible and appropriate, and if you are willing to do so, I would like to ask you to kindly further discuss with me/us some of the points which you have already outlined in the interview to a much greater depth.

In particular I would like to ask you about your knowledge, and also that of UNSCOM, UNMOVIC and the Iraq Survey Group, in relation to the 'missing' Iraqi Scud missile and warhead issues.

During the interview with Luke you stated:


I'm sorry, there were no chemical or biological weapons used in the 1991 war...

and:


(LR: and chemical scuds, they weren't used in 1991?)

RB: no - in 91, they had 50 chemical warheads - 50 scuds with chemicals, and 25 scuds with biological warheads - and we're fairly sure of those numbers now. UNSCOM always argued that there could be more, or maybe not - I can tell you that we are close to being 100% sure as you can be on this sort of thing. None of them were ever fired, and I think we can account for all of them.

As you are obviously aware, Iraq launched a considerable number of these missiles against Coalition forces (and also against Israel) during the 1991 Gulf War. However the exact number of these launches still remains in question. UNSCOM and UNMOVIC both stated many times in publicly available documents that Iraq had admitted to the use of 93 of these missiles. On the other hand, US DoD have stated that Space Command reported 97 launches during the 1991 Gulf War, and UK MoD have previously acknowledged records of 102 launches. Assuming the UK figure is correct, there is the potential for nine missile launches to have taken place which Iraq was thereafter seemingly unwilling to account for (102-93=9.). Scott Ritter has stated (on January 29th 2003) that: "Two were unaccounted for (after the Gulf war) and there was concern there might be seven or eight indigenous ones that we could not account for but were never sure these were operational." (DoD more commonly use the number of eighty-eight missiles landing at targets during the war, subtracted from the ninety-seven missile Space Command count, this again leaves a difference of nine missiles.)

My first question here would be - did UNSCOM, UNMOVIC and the ISG ever take these other claims into full account when Iraq was being challenged to provide evidence of unilateral destruction of its remaining missile force during the long period of the weapons search? Turning to the warhead numbers, you state above that Iraq possessed a total of 75 special warheads, of which 50 were for chemical weapons. However, UNSCOM document S/1999/94 states that: In addition, Iraq declared that it had produced 3 special warheads for training purposes, and that 3 additional special warheads had been used in static tests and 2 special warheads had been used in flight tests. This could potentially seem to add an additional eight warheads to Iraq's arsenal, assuming there was (and this has been suspected and has never been disproven) undeclared indigenous production of special warheads. The ISG final report states that 73-75 of the Iraqi special warheads could be accounted for, but by using the figure of 74 and subtracting this from a theoretically possible total of 83, this would also allow for a deficit of up to nine special warhead assemblies. (This numerical deficit would seem to be backed up by Lt. General Amer M. Rasheed, Head of Iraq's delegation at the concluding session of the missile warhead Technical Evaluation Meeting held in Baghdad on 6 February 1998, who stated that: "The material balance for the special warheads, total, shows that 70 were destroyed, including both by UNSCOM and unilaterally, out of the declared 79 warheads.") What I am suggesting here is that Iraq did indeed use (nine?) chemically loaded Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf conflict, and then found itself in the position of not being able admit to this for fear of international (political) censure against its leadership, possibly involving invocation of the 1925 Geneva poison gas Protocol.

Further to this, I would suggest that Iraq tried extremely hard to get itself out of this problem by carrying out the unilateral destruction programme exercise in an attempt to disguise its own actions. I understand that there were considerable difficulties in determining how to account for the destroyed warheads, either by counting nose-cone assemblies or by counting key structural rings. Also there were many problems in determining the manufacturing origin of warheads, either from Soviet or Iraqi indigenous production facilities. Could it possibly be that Iraq tried to disguise self-destroyed conventional Scud warheads at Nibai as if they were their own CW counterparts? This in turn might assist in determining why Iraq could not also account for a larger number of these other similar weapons, because logically they then couldn't be counted twice. IF it was truly the case that Scud missile fragments were found to be contaminated with VX stabilizer and degradation chemicals, when no other evidence to suggest such weaponization exists, could it be that this was a deliberate attempt by Iraq to create the impression that the recovered wreckage was indeed from chemical warheads? Following on from this, would it also even be possible that they also made a small key and serious mistake here, by using the WRONG chemical compound, i.e. VX instead of Sarin related, perhaps again because it was the only such sample that they had remaining and available to themselves, perhaps also because everything they had had relating to Sarin production had already been destroyed? What we seem to know for sure is, again from the TEM documentation, that the available Iraqi document mentioned that the warhead production workshop (shed 12 of Project 144/2) had 40 Al Hussein warheads on 16 January 1991, and also that there is an indication of the designation of 3, 4, 5 to special warheads on 13 September 1990. We can fairly safely assume that 30 of these were the special chemical warheads turned over to UNSCOM for eventual supervised destruction.

I would simply like to ask - what was the final disposition of the other exact 10 warheads; and what is believed to have happened to those warheads which were initially designated 1 and 2?


Yours respectfully,


(This writer)


12 October 2006


(N.B. Very slightly revised since initial publication at Wot Is It Good 4. In the penultimate paragraph "VX precursor chemicals" has been changed to read "VX stabilizer and degradation chemicals".)






A reply to the above was received via Luke Ryland on 15 December 2006. SCUDWATCH would like to thank Luke for his assistance in this matter, and Rod Barton for his reply.


Luke,

Apologies for not responding to your earlier email on the questions on SCUDs. I have been away a bit and otherwise occupied.

The SCUD questions really go beyond my particular expertise and memory of the detail. All I can say is that I have great respect for the head of the ISG missile team leader. I had specific discussion with him over the accounting of the missiles and he was confident that they could all be accounted for, with perhaps uncertainty surrounding only one or two missiles. He had gone through the UNSCOM accounting process and believes his team had resolved the issue. The work that his team did was painstaking and involved interviews with many of the engineers that had been in the program, as well as going through mountains of documentation.

The indigenous manufacture of components is another problem and I agree that it is possible that there may be the odd indigenous special warhead still in existence. In fact, my experience suggests that in any production line there are always a few bits that are hard to track eg components that are made but fail quality control and are placed back into the system for modification, or simply put aside. But I do not believe these figures would be significant.

As far as Vx breakdown products and stabiliser on the excavated Nibai warheads, my view is that this is explained by cross contamination from the filling pump. We now know that three R400 bombs were filled with Vx (and later dropped). My guess is that these pumps were later used for filling the warheads with Sarin and that was the explantion for finding traces of Vx.

Rod

(N.B. Emphasis in original)