The war torn country of Iraq was scapegoated for bio-weapons and bio-terror long before U.S. and NATO ever invaded the country. Despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were ever found in Iraq, the Middle Eastern nation is still paying the price of Pentagon propaganda.
Abstract: The threat from Iraq's chemical and biological weapons is primarily to U.S. troops and to enemies of President Saddam Hussein inside and near Iraq rather than to civilians in the United States, defense and intelligence officials say.
Iraq is believed to have biological weapons including anthrax spores and botulinum poison, which causes botulism. As for chemical agents, Iraq is thought to possess mustard, tabun, sarin and possibly VX gases, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Those are what U.N. inspectors had found in significant amounts before they left Iraq in 1998 and were not allowed to return.
Saddam's most likely targets would be Israel, any U.S. troops attacking Iraq and any rebel forces inside Iraq, the officials said.
The Iraqi military could strike targets inside the country and in surrounding countries with short-range missiles, artillery or aircraft using bombs or sprayers.
Officials say Saddam's military probably also has squirreled away a few Persian Gulf War-vintage Scud missiles capable of reaching targets 400 miles away. That would pose a danger to Israel and Iraq's other neighbors but not U.S. territory.
Saddam would be likely to consider using the weapons only if the Bush administration were close to removing him from power militarily, officials say. They say any attack that endangered his hold on power, even if it were to cause few deaths, probably would bring massive retaliation.
The United States considers chemical and biological weapons on a par with nuclear weapons.
It is uncertain how much damage an Iraqi counterattack could do, in part because it is unclear what weapons he has developed since 1998, said analyst Anthony Cordesman, who has worked in the departments of Defense, State and Energy.
Experts surmise that Saddam could not stop a U.S. attack by using such weapons. But a chemical or biological attack that caused even a few deaths among American troops in Iraq or civilians in Israel could cause widespread panic.
In the worst case, an attack on Israel could lead that country to consider nuclear retaliation, said Cordesman, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The administration points to Iraq's pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as the principal reason to get rid of Saddam. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visits NATO ally Turkey beginning Sunday to discuss what to do about Iraq. He will be joined by the top U.S. military commander in the region and the No. 3 State Department official.
Cordesman said America's failure to provide specifics on Saddam's activities since 1998 makes allies reluctant to support a U.S. attack.
"Most people outside the U.S. feel we are crying wolf,'' he said.
Iraq asserts it has destroyed its chemical and biological weapons. Talks between the United Nations and Iraq to renew weapons inspections have stalled repeatedly.
At the end of 1998, Iraq told U.N. inspectors it had 550 tons to 650 tons of mustard gas. Experts estimate it has the chemicals to make another 220 tons. Likewise, Iraq declared it had 2,245 gallons of concentrated, weapons-grade anthrax. The United Nations believes current stocks could be as much as four times that.
Iraq also has researched nuclear weapons but is not believed to have the material to build any. Israeli jets attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear research center at Tuwaythah, near Baghdad, in 1981.
Saddam ordered chemical weapons used against Iraqi Kurds and Iranian forces in the 1980s and killed thousands of people.
To make a successful strike with such weapons, the target must have no defenses. U.S. troops have protections against them, defense officials said.
Biological weapons are more of an unknown, Cordesman said. Iraq's were relatively primitive before the Gulf War and the U.N. inspections that followed. But since biological and chemical weapons require only small production capabilities and can be hidden easily, Cordesman said, ``It's almost impossible to track what they may have and may not have done.''
Iraqi weapons laboratories would provide even more important targets for a U.S. strike than his weapons stockpiles, defense and intelligence officials say, because a lot of lethal agents can be produced in a short time.
U.S. officials say Iraq's scientists have survived, and production facilities bombed by the United States in 1998 have been rebuilt. Since Bush stepped up anti-Saddam rhetoric after Sept. 11, Iraq has moved more production capabilities underground (UCLA, 2002).Title: In Assessing Iraq's Arsenal, The 'Reality Is Uncertainty'
Date: July 31, 2002
Abstract: U.S. intelligence analysts have been closely examining satellite images of the west bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad for signs of a laboratory rumored to exist there. Called Tahhaddy, or "Challenge," the lab is purported to have 85 employees and a top-secret mission: making biological weapons for Iraq's military.
Details about the lab have trickled out of Iraq in recent months in accounts from defectors and Iraqi exiles opposed to President Saddam Hussein. They tell of underground test chambers, heavy security and a viral strain code-named "Blue Nile," which sounds suspiciously like the Ebola virus.
If confirmed, the very existence of the lab could fuel the debate over whether the United States should attack Iraq. But confirming the lab's presence from satellite photos has proved difficult, so the laboratory today remains a mere shadow in the U.S. government's intelligence assessment -- an unknown threat in a landscape filled with others just like it.
"It sounds credible. It is certainly plausible," a Pentagon intelligence analyst who specializes in Iraq said of the facility last week. "But proving it is another matter."
The search for the laboratory illustrates one of the more vexing challenges facing White House and congressional leaders as they weigh military action against Iraq. Two days of Senate hearings on the topic open today. The decision about war hinges largely on a single issue: whether Iraq is actively seeking biological, chemical and nuclear weapons that could pose a threat to the United States and its allies, and how to respond if so.
President Bush has declared that Iraq belongs to an "axis of evil," countries that are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and has threatened to carry out "regime change" in Iraq. Senior administration officials have said Iraq's threat is grave enough to warrant a military invasion.
But intelligence officials and military experts on Iraq, both in the United States and abroad, express caution. While many analysts are convinced that Iraq is rebuilding its stockpile of weapons, the White House has not publicly offered evidence of a single factory or lab known to be actively producing them.
Congressional officials who receive classified briefings on Iraq say the case has not yet been made there, either -- in part because of what some officials perceive as a lack of reliable intelligence-gathering on the ground.
"The central reality is uncertainty, and the defectors' stories only reinforce that," Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) said in an interview after a recent tour of the Middle East, where he discussed Iraq with regional leaders. "None of the people we met claimed to have conclusive knowledge of the status of Iraq's weapons program," said Graham, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.
According to interviews with dozens of analysts in government, the military, intelligence agencies and academia, Iraq has a reservoir of knowledge, technology and equipment to create weapons of mass destruction. These specialists also agree that Iraq still has a residual arsenal from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, including stocks of chemical agents and possibly biological weapons that were hidden from the United Nations during seven years of inspections.
The experts also note that Hussein is clearly determined to preserve whatever capability he has. Iraq attempted to conceal its weapons infrastructure from U.N. inspectors throughout the 1990s, and for the past four years it has refused to allow the inspectors back into the country, even at a cost of continuing international sanctions.
Beyond that, the evidence that Iraq is actively rebuilding its arsenal consists of a mosaic of defector stories and intriguing intelligence data, including satellite images showing new construction in bombed-out industrial parks where weapons were once made, and documented attempts by Iraq to purchase specialized equipment and supplies.
But the intelligence reports and defector claims also leave some large questions unanswered. If an active weapons program exists, it is far from clear how extensive it is or how a serious threat it poses. Before the 1991 war, Iraq struggled with faulty weapons designs, and weapons often backfired on Iraq's own troops. The military also has not yet managed to marry its weapons with a reliable missile system that can accurately deliver warheads to distant targets.
The intelligence about Iraq is cloudy enough to lead to differing interpretations. Iraq experts who favor an aggressive response said the data add up to a compelling, if largely circumstantial, case. "It's as clear as these things get," said R. James Woolsey, director of the CIA from 1993 to 1995. "If defectors are all you've got, that's a problem. But you can triangulate -- you get more than one source."
But others, including some former U.N. weapons inspectors, say the evidence is simply inconclusive, underscoring the need for the inspectors' prompt return to Baghdad.
"I'd be the first to admit I have no idea what has gone on inside Iraq since 1998," said Scott Ritter, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer and chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, who accused the Clinton administration of not aggressively seeking the country's full disarmament. "If someone can demonstrate that Iraq has [weapons of mass destruction] and continues to develop them, then Iraq is a rogue nation and I would be the first to sign up for that war. But no one has made that case yet."
Congressional leaders are pressing the White House for better intelligence -- and a public airing of the existing evidence -- as reports circulate that the administration is preparing plans for a possible strike against Baghdad.
"There's an important role for the Iraqi opposition, but we should be doing more than simply trying to confirm its stories," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., (D-Del.) chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. "My attitude is we should be like the Missourians: Show me."
The Tahhaddy lab, if it exists, could point to an Iraqi biological weapons program that was kept secret from Western intelligence agencies for more than 15 years.
Iraq's known bioweapons labs were so carefully hidden that U.N. officials failed to discover them until 1995 -- four years after the start of inspections. Only after the defection of the program's chief, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, did inspectors find secret laboratories that were producing lethal bacteria by the ton.
Iraq eventually acknowledged making three types of biological weapons using anthrax bacteria and two kinds of biological toxins: botulinum toxin and aflatoxin. But Iraq is also known to have conducted extensive research on at least three other pathogens that attack humans or crops, and it dabbled with a half-dozen others, U.N. inspection reports show.
In its final three years in Iraq, the U.N. Special Commission, or UNSCOM, destroyed all of Iraq's known biological munitions, and much of the equipment needed to make new ones. But the inspectors didn't get it all.
"UNSCOM didn't destroy everything," said Richard Spertzel, a retired Army biological warfare expert who oversaw the dismantling of Iraq's bioweapons program. "Iraq still has enough equipment, material, people and know-how to make biological weapons."
Spertzel said he observed industrial fermenters, spray dryers and other equipment that could be used today to mass-produce viruses and bacteria -- equipment that UNSCOM could not legally destroy because it had no proof the machines were being used to make weapons. He concludes that Iraq can now produce biological weapons without any help from abroad, which it could not have done a decade ago.
Iraq may still possess actual biowarfare bombs, as well. In a report to the U.N. Security Council in 1999, UNSCOM concluded that Iraq had concealed nearly 160 bombs and more than two dozen missile warheads filled with anthrax or other pathogens.
While Iraq insists it destroyed the weapons unilaterally, it has offered no proof. Iraq also never handed over its "cookbooks" of instructions for making biological weapons, or accounted for its seed stock of lethal pathogens or hundreds of pounds of imported nutrient broth used to grow the germs in bulk.
While conclusive proof remains elusive, there have been persistent reports since the late 1990s suggesting that Iraq has continued biological weapons research using small labs built underground or concealed inside specially modified trucks. Detailed accounts of what were described as secret labs were given to U.S. intelligence officials last fall by Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, an engineer specializing in constructing dust-free "clean rooms" needed for certain types of laboratory work. After fleeing Iraq in early December, he reported that as many as 300 secret weapons facilities had been "reactivated" since the withdrawal of U.N. inspectors.
The engineer is being kept in a safe house by the Defense Intelligence Agency, which declined requests to interview Saeed. But according to a transcript of his debriefing session, which was made available by the Iraqi National Congress, a leading opposition group, Saeed said most of the facilities were small and cleverly disguised.
"In some areas, houses or a small factory would get converted into labs," Saeed said. He also described a visit to an underground biological lab on the grounds of one of Hussein's Baghdad palaces, and his account is similar to reports of the Tahhaddy biological site offered by the Iraqi National Congress, which claims to have investigated the facility using informants. A document provided to The Washington Post by the group gives directions to the lab, lists its senior officers and describes a layout that includes above-ground offices and rooms for a special security detachment assigned to the building.
Most of its 85 employees work in a small underground lab that conducts research on deadly pathogens, including a mysterious Blue Nile strain, officials of the opposition group said. Biowarfare experts suggested the name may refer to Ebola, a disease that strikes in the Blue Nile region of East Africa.
The Iraqi National Congress officials said they have been unable to learn whether the lab had successfully produced viruses in a weaponized form. Several intelligence and UNSCOM officials described the group's report as credible but none could verify it independently.
Under UNSCOM, inspectors investigated several reports of underground weapons facilities but found none.
Chemical agents are the oldest and most technologically simple component of Iraq's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. They were used to put down a rebellion by Iraqi Kurds in 1988. Experts interviewed for this article said there is convincing evidence Iraq still has chemical weapons stockpiles.
In their seven years in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, U.N. inspectors destroyed hundreds of chemically armed warheads and artillery shells. UNSCOM's incinerator ran for months, burning tons of mustard gas and nerve agents as well as the precursor compounds used to make them.
Yet, a vast amount of Hussein's chemical stockpile was never found and remains unaccounted for, U.N. inspection records show.
Among the more worrisome items: at least 3.9 tons of highly lethal VX, an advanced nerve agent so powerful that a few drops on the skin can kill. Iraq acknowledged making the VX and reported acquiring at least 600 tons of precursor chemicals.
Iraq claims to have destroyed the chemicals, along with about 550 mustard-gas shells and 107,000 special artillery shell casings, the U.N. documents show. But no evidence was offered, and UNSCOM dismissed the claim as a lie.
"Even while we were monitoring, Iraq was conducting activities right under our noses," said Charles A. Duelfer, former deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM and a resident scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Duelfer and other UNSCOM veterans say Iraq could, without much difficulty, resume modest-scale production of chemical weapons -- and there is scattered evidence that it already has. In a report to Congress two years ago, the CIA said Iraq was rebuilding factories at which it once made chemical weapons, and installing dual-use equipment that can be employed to make new ones. More construction was spotted by spy satellites last year at a massive former chemical site known as Falluja, said Kelly Motz, weapons specialist at Iraq Watch, a research group in Washington that tracks arms-control issues.
Iraqi opposition officials and recent defectors such as Saeed contend that chemical munitions work is underway at such sites, but their accounts could not be independently confirmed.
The leader of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, citing informants within the Iraqi intelligence community, contends that Hussein's VX stockpile is far larger than the 3.9 tons Iraq reported -- something UNSCOM inspectors have long suspected. Chalabi also says that the VX had been converted into a dry salt for long-term storage and was positioned in various sites across Iraq for use in the event of a foreign attack. UNSCOM officials said the account seemed credible, given what was learned about Iraq's VX program in the final months of weapons inspections (UCLA, 2002).
Title: Blair Says Iraqis Could Launch Chemical
Warheads In Minutes
Date: September 22, 2002
Abstract: Britain asserted today that the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein could launch chemical or biological warheads within 45 minutes of an order to use them and acquire a nuclear weapon in one to five years.
The claims were made in a 50-page report intended to bolster the Bush administration's case against the Iraqi leader and released today a few hours before Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined to British lawmakers his case for war if necessary to make Iraq disarm.
Addressing an emergency session of Parliament, Mr. Blair said: "Our case is simply this. Not that we take military action come what may. But that the case for Iraqi disarmament is overwhelming." In a clear allusion to the possible need for the use of force against Iraq, he added: "Alongside the diplomacy there must be genuine preparedness and planning to take action if diplomacy fails."
President Bush praised Mr. Blair for demonstrating what he called the Iraqi leader's "murderous ways." Iraq responded with contempt, calling the report a collection of "exaggeration and lies" and saying United Nations weapons inspectors would be granted "unfettered access" to go wherever they wanted upon their expected return to Iraq in the next several weeks.
During a heated, 11-hour debate in Parliament after Mr. Blair's statement, several lawmakers from the prime minister's Labor Party criticized him sharply. But there was also vigorous and widespread praise for his stand. In general, opposition to the Bush administration's war plans is less strong in Britain than elsewhere in Europe, where it is often virulent.
Once more today, Mr. Blair was cast in the role he took on energetically a year ago, when he rallied support for American's fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Once again, Britain issued information justifying a potential war against a target chosen by the Bush administration, with the purpose of broadening support and convincing those skeptical of findings attributed to American intelligence sources.
The report contained what it said was intelligence information that Iraq was trying to acquire significant quantities of uranium from unspecified countries in Africa, despite having no civilian nuclear program, and had extended the range of its ballistic missiles as part of a plan to dominate the region.
The chief new elements in the report, experts said, appeared to be the British assessments that Iraq could so quickly launch a chemical or biological warhead and that it had sought to acquire uranium in Africa that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
The view that Iraq is one to five years away from producing a nuclear bomb, depending on whether it could procure fissionable material abroad or produce it itself, is within the range given by other intelligence agencies.
"Intelligence shows that the Iraqi program is almost certainly seeking an indigenous ability to enrich uranium to the level needed for a nuclear weapon," the report said.
In a foreword to the report, Mr. Blair said he believed that the compilation of information from Britain's intelligence and security agencies had proved that Mr. Hussein threatened the stability of the world and had to be blocked now.
"What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile program," he said. "I also believe that, as stated in the document, Saddam will now do his utmost to try to conceal his weapons from U.N. inspectors."
It added that there were command-and-control arrangements in place to use those chemical and biological weapons, and that intelligence showed Mr. Hussein might have delegated authority over them to his son Qusay.
Mr. Blair, Mr. Bush's staunchest ally on Iraq, was obliged earlier this month to summon Parliament back from summer recess for a one-day session after many lawmakers, mostly from his own party and at least two in his own cabinet, raised doubts about Britain's involvement in an anti-Iraq military campaign.
In a bid to get international support for moving against Iraq, the United States and Britain are preparing a United Nations resolution that would oblige Mr. Hussein to give up his programs to produce weapons of mass destruction and would threaten military action if he did not. Mr. Blair said the measure was just "days away." But opposition to any specific mention of military action is strong in the Security Council.
President Jacques Chirac of France said he still placed his faith in the weapons inspectors. China said it would study any United Nations draft resolution on Iraq, referring to the American and British plan to propose a measure threatening military action if Iraq did not disarm.
The report said Mr. Hussein had recalled specialists to work on his nuclear weapons program.
It asserted that Iraq had rebuilt chemical plants destroyed during the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and it published satellite pictures of two of them surrounded by high walls, watchtowers and security guards that the report said proved they were for military rather than civilian use. It also said Iraq had developed mobile laboratories for making biological weapons that could escape detection and attack invading troops.
Though it was forced upon him, the high-profile Parliament session gave Mr. Blair an opportunity to chronicle the thinking behind the government's position with the kind of clarity and persuasiveness welcomed in Washington. It also afforded his most vociferous critics at home their sought-for chance to air grievances.
But in the end, the feared revolt was limited to 53 of Labor's 412 members in a concluding technical protest vote.
One of the most prominent Labor skeptics in Parliament, Diane Abbott, said she had found the report unpersuasive. "Tony Blair will have to do better than this if he wants to convince the British public to go to war," she said.
Protesters in an open-top bus outside the House of Commons loudly sang John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance."
While the report put forth no startling new disclosures and provided no "smoking gun," Donald Anderson, head of the foreign affairs select committee, told the Commons that he thought that was one of its merits. "It's a very British document," he said. "There is no hyperbole. It is low key, yet at the same time it is very sober and chilling."
Menzies Campbell, the foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said he was still unconvinced of the need for military action. "Where is the evidence that containment and deterrence have now failed to the point at which military action is deemed necessary?" he asked.
The report said Mr. Hussein had retained up to 20 Al Hussein missiles, with a range of 650 kilometers (400 miles), capable of carrying chemical or biological weapons, and it published a map showing that Iraqi weapons under development could reach the whole of the Arab Middle East, Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. A report by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies earlier this month put the number of Al Husseins at 12.
In Baghdad, a government minister denied all the charges. "Mr. Blair is acting as part of the Zionist campaign against Iraq, and all his claims are baseless," Culture Minister Hamed Youssef Hummadi said at a news conference.
Mr. Blair, seeking to sway the opinions of the many critics in Britain who agree that Mr. Hussein is dangerous but believe that he has been effectively contained, said: "It is clear that, despite sanctions, the policy of containment has not worked sufficiently well to prevent Saddam from developing these weapons. I am in no doubt that the threat is serious and current, that he has made progress on weapons of mass destruction and that he has to be stopped."
In an implied response to criticism that he has hewn too closely to the Bush administration's hard line on Iraq, he said, "I believe that faced with the information available to me, the U.K. government has been right to support the demands that this issue be confronted and dealt with."
John Chipman, director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said today that the government's assessment disclosed fresh details about Mr. Hussein's efforts to procure materials abroad for a nuclear program and highlighted Iraq's strategy for confounding new inspections. "It shows that Iraq has prepared for the possible return of inspectors by developing more sophisticated concealment strategies," he told the BBC.
Gary Samore, a nonproliferation specialist who wrote the institute's report, said he had had only public information to go on, while the government had access to intelligence and could thus portray what has happened since United Nations weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998, just before the United States and Britain began a bombing campaign.
Maj. Charles Heyman, editor of the defense journal Jane's World Armies, told Reuters that "there really is nothing new" in the report. He added, "We were all expecting the evidence for war, and what we got was evidence for U.N. inspections."
Polls have shown that Britons want action against Mr. Hussein only with United Nations approval, and that view was put forward repeatedly in the debate in Commons today.
The report went out of its way to portray the Iraqi leader as constantly and flagrantly in violation of United Nations rules and resolutions.
In one of the more original entries, the report made its case for Mr. Hussein's diversion of largesse to his own comfort by publishing a drawing of one of his vast presidential palaces overlaid on the distinctly smaller area taken up by Buckingham Palace.
Mr. Blair singled out passages attacking Mr. Hussein's human rights record. "Read it all, and again I defy anyone to say that this cruel and sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility of getting his hands on more chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons," he said.
The report said that Mr. Hussein was able in 2001 to make $3 billion in "illicit earnings" outside the control of the United Nations oil-for-food program. The report did not identify the sources of the money but said it went to finance his luxurious lifestyle and arms development (UCLA, 2002).
Title: U.S. Supplied Germs To Iraq In '80s
Date: October 1, 2002
Abstract: Iraq's bioweapons program that President Bush wants to eradicate got its start with help from Uncle Sam two decades ago, according to government records getting new scrutiny in light of the discussion of war against Iraq.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent samples directly to several Iraqi sites that U.N. weapons inspectors determined were part of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program, CDC and congressional records from the early 1990s show. Iraq had ordered the samples, claiming it needed them for legitimate medical research.
The CDC and a biological sample company, the American Type Culture Collection, sent strains of all the germs Iraq used to make weapons, including anthrax, the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and the germs that cause gas gangrene, the records show. Iraq also got samples of other deadly pathogens, including the West Nile virus.
The transfers came in the 1980s, when the United States supported Iraq in its war against Iran. They were detailed in a 1994 Senate Banking Committee report and a 1995 follow-up letter from the CDC to the Senate.
The exports were legal at the time and approved under a program administered by the Commerce Department.
"I don't think it would be accurate to say the United States government deliberately provided seed stocks to the Iraqis' biological weapons programs,'' said Jonathan Tucker, a former U.N. biological weapons inspector.
"But they did deliver samples that Iraq said had a legitimate public health purpose, which I think was naive to believe, even at the time.''
The disclosures put the United States in the uncomfortable position of possibly having provided the key ingredients of the weapons America is considering waging war to destroy, said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. Byrd entered the documents into the Congressional Record this month.
Byrd asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about the germ transfers at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Byrd noted that Rumsfeld met Saddam in 1983, when Rumsfeld was President Reagan's Middle East envoy.
"Are we, in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?'' Byrd asked Rumsfeld after reading parts of a Newsweek article on the transfers.
"I have never heard anything like what you've read, I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, and I doubt it,'' Rumsfeld said. He later said he would ask the Defense Department and other government agencies to search their records for evidence of the transfers.
Invoices included in the documents read like shopping lists for biological weapons programs. One 1986 shipment from the Virginia-based American Type Culture Collection included three strains of anthrax, six strains of the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and three strains of the bacteria that cause gas gangrene. Iraq later admitted to the United Nations that it had made weapons out of all three.
The company sent the bacteria to the University of Baghdad, which U.N. inspectors concluded had been used as a front to acquire samples for Iraq's biological weapons program.
The CDC, meanwhile, sent shipments of germs to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission and other agencies involved in Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. It sent samples in 1986 of botulinum toxin and botulinum toxoid -- used to make vaccines against botulinum toxin -- directly to the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons complex at al-Muthanna, the records show.
Botulinum toxin is
the paralyzing poison that causes botulism. Having a vaccine to the toxin would
be useful for anyone working with it, such as biological weapons researchers or
soldiers who might be exposed to the deadly poison, Tucker said.
The CDC also sent samples of a strain of West Nile virus to an Iraqi microbiologist at a university in the southern city of Basra in 1985, the records show (UCLA, 2002).
Title: How Vulnerable Are Troops If Iraq Taps
Date: October 2, 2002
Abstract: In the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi troops loaded Scud missiles and artillery shells with chemical and biological agents, but never fired them at American forces. This time, things may be different.
Here at a desert base 50 miles from the Iraqi border, U.S. Army Maj. James Blankenhorn, an expert in chemical and biological weapons, worries about what that threat means for his troops. His primary concern isn't Iraq's arsenal of Scud missiles, which is badly depleted, or its rockets and artillery shells, which don't have the range to be much of a threat beyond Iraq's borders.
Maj. Blankenhorn thinks Baghdad's best chance to wreak havoc would be to use a less-conventional technique: deploy a small group of special-operations forces via truck, boat or crop-duster. They would spray chemical or biological agents five or 10 miles upwind from this base, which figures to be a key staging ground for any American move into Iraq.
Wind and temperature conditions would have to be just right, or the cloud might blow out to sea or evaporate. Still, if the base is crowded -- as it probably will be in the weeks leading up to a war -- a few hundred soldiers could be contaminated before sensors sounded and they scrambled into their protective gear. If Iraq used a long-lasting chemical, such as VX nerve agent, Camp Doha, with its hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles and humvees and thousands of troops, could be shut down for weeks of decontamination.
The possibility that Iraq will use biological or chemical weapons is one of the most difficult issues facing the White House and Pentagon as they contemplate a new effort to oust Saddam Hussein. In recent weeks, the Pentagon has quietly stepped up preparations to defend against such an attack. Five new biological-weapons detection systems, dubbed "Portal Shields," have been sent to military bases in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, all likely launching pads for a U.S. attack on Iraq. A sixth is on its way here.
In the next few weeks, the Pentagon will also ship 35,000 gallons of an experimental foam that can be used to decontaminate both soldiers and sensitive electronic equipment exposed to chemical weapons. The U.S. Central Command, which will oversee any military action, has told manufacturers it could need as much as one million gallons, according to a defense official.
The Pentagon has also extended the tours of its chemical and biological reserve units -- called up after Sept. 11, 2001 -- for another year of active duty. And psychological-operations officers are developing a campaign of leaflets and broadcasts to warn Iraqi officers that they will be tried for war crimes if they follow orders and launch a biological- or chemical-weapons attack.
Safer at the Front?
Paradoxically, military planners say U.S. forces closest to the front lines may be much less vulnerable than military or civilian targets farther away. Thanks to better sensors and extensive training, most soldiers at the front could don protective suits before being contaminated in a chemical-weapons attack -- although reacting to a biological-weapons attack would be harder. A large-scale, clandestine attack on a base like Camp Doha could be far more deadly and a logistical nightmare that disrupts support for thousands more troops in the field.
The most frightening scenario, and the one defense officials concede they are least prepared for, is if the Iraqi leader launches a chemical or biological attack on civilian populations either in a neighboring Arab state -- chiefly Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain -- that is hosting U.S. forces or against Israel. The goal would be to weaken the resolve of Arab neighbors by intimidating them or by drawing Israel into the fight. With the exception of Israel, which has purchased the best gas masks and sensors for its citizens, none of the states in the region is currently prepared for such an attack, defense officials say.
There are also some notable gaps in the Pentagon's planning and potential problems with equipment. Civilians working at ports that will be used to bring equipment into the Gulf region haven't all received proper protective gear and training for a chemical- or biological-weapons attack. Defense officials say they are working on the problem. Meanwhile, about 250,000 defective protective suits, produced in the late 1990s, cannot be accounted for. Some probably remain in the Pentagon's 4.5-million-suit inventory, according to a report by the General Accounting Office presented at a congressional hearing Tuesday. The report also warned that many soldiers haven't received adequate training in using the hot, bulky suits.
Mr. Hussein already has proved his willingness to use such weapons. During the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88, Baghdad launched chemical attacks mainly with rockets and artillery shells filled with mustard gas. The attacks wounded more than 40,000 unprotected Iranian soldiers and killed 2,000 to 3,000 troops. The Iraqi dictator appeared ready to do even more in the Gulf War. According to reports from United Nations weapons inspectors, in the weeks straddling late 1990 and early 1991, Mr. Hussein ordered his military to fill 75 Scud warheads, hundreds of aerial bombs, and thousands of rockets and artillery shells with sarin nerve agent, mustard gas, anthrax spores, botulinum toxin and the cancer-causing agent Aflatoxin.
No one is sure why he never used these weapons, but many analysts assume that he was deterred by the first Bush administration's threats of "overwhelming retaliation." With the current Bush administration's declared goal to overthrow or even kill Mr. Hussein, such threats may not deter the Iraqi dictator this time around.
It's difficult to estimate the size of Iraq's current arsenal. But its appetite for such weapons has been considerable. U.N. weapons inspectors destroyed 2,850 tons of mustard gas -- enough to contaminate hundreds of miles of territory -- and about 5.5 tons of sarin, cyclosarin and VX nerve agent, which could kill troops over a six-square-mile swath. The inspectors also destroyed about 2,210 gallons of anthrax and nearly 5,000 gallons of botulinum toxin. It isn't clear how much the inspectors didn't find. And Iraq has now had four years without inspections, during which time it has almost certainly restarted production at both biological- and chemical-weapons plants.
While the volume of toxins sounds terrifying, the means of delivering the weapons will determine a lot about their effectiveness. To start, Mr. Hussein is thought to have at most only a few dozen Scuds -- the most frightening weapon of the Gulf War and the one with the longest-reach. Scuds, artillery shells and rockets can't disperse deadly chemicals or bacteria over a wide area, and the blast from their explosive warheads destroys much of what the weapon carries. Less than 3% of anthrax and less than 0.05% of botulinum toxin can survive a blast, according to U.S. Army research. Less than 70% of VX nerve agent and less than 50% of mustard gas typically survives the explosion.
Pentagon officials also say that even for troops exposed, there are ways to counter the effects. Nearly half a million soldiers have already been vaccinated against anthrax. An attack with VX can be countered by an injection of atropine -- standard issue for troops in the field -- although the side effects, mainly dehydration and fatigue, could sideline a soldier for at least 24 hours.
Despite a 10-year push to develop new sensors, there are still some deadly chemical and biological agents that can't be detected. Military officials believe that Iraq has tried to produce a powder version of VX nerve agent, known as "Dusty VX," that is extremely hard to detect and decontaminate.
Perhaps most worrisome is the psychological impact of such an attack on the morale of troops and host countries. "As soon as a biological or chemical attack occurs, everyone feels exposed, everyone feels symptoms. That's its power," says Camp Doha's Maj. Blankenhorn.
U.S. military analysts say they can imagine several scenarios in which such weapons would be used:
Front-line troops: Some analysts believe that Mr. Hussein would only order an attack in extremis, as U.S. troops advanced on Baghdad or his hometown of Tikrit.
To halt advancing troops, chemical weapons, which would incapacitate troops in minutes, are more likely to be used than biological agents that take days before they sicken the enemy. Such an attack carries big risks for the attacker. "When you use artillery shells you have to worry that if the wind conditions aren't right it will blow back on your own troops," says Bill Patrick, who researched chemical weapons for the U.S. military for decades.
And while a chemical or biological attack could kill dozens of troops, defense officials play down the threat of large casualties on the battlefield. The likelihood of a direct attack on ground troops also may depend on how many ground forces the U.S. decides to send into Iraq.
The Iraqis' biggest problem, defense officials say, would be delivering such weapons over a large area. Since each of Mr. Hussein's artillery shells and rockets can't carry a lot of agent, the Iraqi leader would have to fire hundreds of artillery and rocket rounds spread out over the entire battlefield. During the Gulf War, U.S. pilots easily destroyed Iraqi artillery and rocket launchers whenever they massed in the desert. Mr. Hussein also has been developing unmanned aerial drones, which carry large tanks of agent and could spray a fine mist over troops. But the drones are slow-moving and would be easy targets for U.S. fighter jets.
Another factor that probably would limit the damage from such an attack are U.S. chemical-weapons sensors, which have been developed since the Gulf War and would give troops ample time to don protective gear. Today's chemical sensors can identify both mustard gas and nerve agents in less than a second. The Army's M-93 Fox chemical reconnaissance vehicle, fielded in the early 1990s, uses an infrared beam to detect a chemical cloud as far away as three miles, allowing troops to maneuver around suspicious clouds and to put on protective gear before they are contaminated.
The real weakness would be with biological weapons. The Army's biological sensors can detect eight to 10 biological agents in about 15 to 45 minutes. That's far better than what the U.S. brought to the fight during the Gulf War, but it still doesn't give soldiers enough time to don protective gear. The sensors, however, should give doctors ample time to treat troops infected with agents such as botulinum toxin, Q fever or tularemia, before serious symptoms take hold. Most soldiers have been vaccinated against anthrax.
That said, an attack would still slow a U.S. advance, as soldiers near the infected area donned heavy jackets, gloves and pants lined with charcoal filters to screen out chemical agents. They would also have to put on masks, which limit peripheral vision. If the attack took place in spring or summer, when temperatures regularly soar above 100 degrees, it would be very hard for soldiers to advance on Baghdad without losing significant numbers of men to heat exhaustion.
Attacks on airfields or ports: If Mr. Hussein's goal is to kill U.S. soldiers and slow down an invasion, he might strike in the early days of a campaign at regional ports or airfields when those facilities are filled to capacity with U.S. forces gathering for the fight.
For years military planners have speculated that Mr. Hussein's best means for delivering his chemical and biological weapons to U.S. ports and airfields was with small teams of terrorists. In 1997 a Pentagon team of 18 generals and admirals projected different ways such an attack could take place, according to a Pentagon report.
In one scenario, small teams of Iraqi soldiers unleashed mustard gas from an old bread truck outfitted with agricultural sprayers. The truck was mistakenly let on base by troops who thought it was delivering food. In another scenario, a helicopter took off from a barge floating about 15 miles from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and sprayed cholera into the air, infecting thousands of U.S. Marines preparing to board ships. The Marines didn't fall ill until they were at sea.
Finally, the generals envisioned speedboats, loaded with chemical and biological weapons, ramming into docks near key U.S. ports in Bahrain and Kuwait -- a scenario eerily reminiscent of the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
Although Mr. Hussein's Scud arsenal is depleted and less of a threat than a terrorist attack, he could use the missiles to strike U.S. ports and airfields. Key U.S. bases in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar are all within range of Mr. Hussein's Scuds, which can travel distances of about 405 miles and carry as much as 55 gallons of agent -- about 10 times more than an artillery shell. But Mr. Hussein's Scuds aren't very accurate and, like artillery shells and rockets, which rely on explosive charges to disperse chemical or biological substances into the air, they can't spread their poisons over a great distance.
Civilian populations: With few Scuds left in its arsenal, Iraq could decide its best use would be against an Arab state hosting U.S. troops. An even more likely target would be Israel with the hope of drawing it into the fight, and turning the Arab world even more against the Americans.
During the Gulf War, Iraq fired 39 Scuds in and around Tel Aviv. Although the Scuds contained no chemical agent, they produced widespread panic. At U.S. insistence, the Israelis didn't respond. But Israeli officials have made clear that won't be the case this time around, especially if the Scuds are carrying chemical or biological weapons.
In recent years, to protect its major cities, Israel has purchased the same chemical and biological sensors that the U.S. military relies on. But it isn't clear how well the sensors, which were designed for battlefields and bases, will work in big cities where cars and tall buildings often create unpredictable wind patterns.
Although all Israeli citizens are required by law to get fitted for gas masks, the vast majority don't practice with the masks as much as U.S. soldiers do. If a Scud loaded with chemical weapons were to land in a busy marketplace, the casualties could soar into the hundreds.
A terrorist attack with chemical or biological weapons on a major Israeli city could produce even larger casualties. If the terrorists were using deadly sarin nerve gas, which vaporizes quickly, they would have to strike on a hazy day to ensure the chemicals don't dissipate into the atmosphere. In the case of a VX or mustard-gas attack, the terrorists would need to rely on wind to spread the droplets. If successful, thousands could die.
If Mr. Hussein were to strike one of his Arab neighbors, where there are few sensors and scant protective gear, casualties could be far higher than Israel.
Another major wild card involves the exact kinds of agents Mr. Hussein possesses. Iraq was one of the last countries in the world to have a smallpox outbreak, in the early 1970s. If Iraqi scientists saved some smallpox, Mr. Hussein could unleash on a city human agents infected with the disease but not yet showing symptoms. Such attacks would be impossible to detect until people began to fall ill, and the death toll would be high. A recent Pentagon-funded study, dubbed "Dark Winter," estimated that terrorists infected with smallpox might be able to spread the disease to three million people in a matter of two months (UCLA, 2002).
Title: U.S. Likely Sent Iraq Toxic Bugs
Date: October 2, 2002
Abstract: Evidence that the U.S. government once authorized and sent to Iraq germ cultures capable of being used for biological weapons underscores the sometimes fuzzy boundary separating research on public health from that on weapons of mass destruction.
Whether the disease is anthrax, smallpox or West Nile fever, science for the common good as well as evil ultimately depends on ready access to the same bugs.
Details of the potential germ warfare agents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and a Virginia biologics company shipped to Iraq in the 1980s are stirring concerns about the country's ability to control the export of deadly germs.
To Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the situation has created "the equivalent of a Betty Crocker cookbook of ingredients that the U.S. allowed Iraq to obtain and that may have been used to concoct biological weapons."
But CDC officials say the shipments, which occurred during a period when the United States viewed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as an ally, are old news -- and part of an essential worldwide exchange of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and fungi.
"We ship over 300 agents to several dozen countries every year," said CDC spokesman Thomas Skinner. "It's important for the CDC to cooperate with international health authorities on research that . . . saves lives. At the same time it's equally important to us to work with the U.S. Commerce Department to see that these organisms don't fall into the wrong hands."
As with other exports, the Commerce Department has a list of countries and germs that are restricted in international trade. Iraq wasn't on the list of countries in the 1980s, but it is today, along with Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba.
Because potentially deadly cultures could be reshipped for illicit use to a third country, the Commerce Department also lists dozens of possible bio-warfare agents -- including anthrax, smallpox, botulinum toxin and hemorrhagic fevers -- that require government approval before they can be exported at all.
Byrd says even tighter controls are needed to guard against a future in which "today's friend may be tomorrow's enemy."
CDC officials said absolute assurance that biological materials won't be misused is probably not possible.
Bugs for good and evil
Even within the United States, compartmentalizing medical and weapons research has not been entirely successful. The strain of microbe responsible for last year's anthrax-by-mail attacks closely matches one used by a number of U.S. research institutions -- including the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md.
In the case of Iraq, Byrd says at least 11 shipments -- a "witches brew of pathogens including anthrax, botulinum toxin and gangrene," came from the American Type Culture Collection, a nonprofit firm in Manassas, Va., that has supplied biological cultures and products for global research since 1925.
The company's products, including nearly 18,000 strains of bacteria and more than 2,000 viruses, can be ordered by fax, phone or online from the firm's Web site.
In a tersely worded statement Tuesday, company spokeswoman Nancy Wysocki dismissed the controversy as "old news" that surfaced in congressional hearings in 1993.
"The Department of Commerce approved all requests for shipments of biological samples by Iraq," Wysocki said, adding that the firm's shipments currently comply with all government regulations.
"As a global biological resources center, the American Type Culture Collection's mission is to provide resources to scientists in medicine, public health, industry and education," she said.
Between 1985 and 1988, the Commerce Department approved export licenses for more than 110 shipments of biological materials. The timing of the shipments coincides with the period during which Iraqi scientists turned from studying literature on biological weapons experiments to working with actual samples of anthrax and botulinum toxin.
The Bush administration's charges that Iraq is developing biological weapons have revived congressional interest in how and where the country got the raw materials.
Byrd doesn't contend that the government deliberately approved the shipment of potential seed stock for biological weapons. "It was simply a matter of business as usual, I suppose," he said.
Now, however, he said the risks of lax export controls are apparent. "We not only know that Iraq has biological weapons, we know the type, strain, and the batch number of the germs that may have been used to fashion these weapons," he said. "We know the dates they were shipped and the addresses to which they were shipped."
CDC Verified Shipments
In a response to a congressional inquiry in 1993, former CDC Director David Satcher acknowledged eight shipments of "viruses, retroviruses, bacteria and fungi" from the agency's laboratories in Atlanta to researchers in Iraq.
Destinations for the CDC shipments included the Iraqi Ministry of Health in Baghdad, the University of Baghdad -- later identified by U.N. weapons inspectors as a front for the acquisition of biological weapons samples -- and at least one researcher in Al-Muthanna, a site 40 miles south of Baghdad that has the nucleus of Iraq's chemical weapons program.
Several months later, Satcher reported that the CDC had also discovered that additional cultures -- including the germ that causes dengue fever and a non-virulent strain of the bug that causes plague -- were hand-carried to Iraq in May 1985 by Dr. Mahammad Mahmud, a doctor who had just finished three months of research on mosquito-borne viruses at the CDC.
Of the dozens of approved biological materials shipped to Iraq by the government and corporate sources, a 1992 Defense Department report to Congress identified five so-called Class III pathogens as being of particular concern:
Bacillus anthracis, the anthrax bacterium whose finely powdered spores killed five people and sickened 17 others in the United States last year in the country's first brush with biological terrorism.
Clostridium botulinum, the bacterial source of a toxin that can cause vomiting, fever, partial paralysis and is often fatal.
Histoplasma capsulatum, which causes a disease that afflicts the liver and spleen and at least superficially resembles tuberculosis.
Brucella melitensis, a bacteria that causes chronic fatigue, nausea and damage to major organs.
Clostridium perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria that causes gas gangrene.
Although the United States has increased the number of biological agents and countries on its restricted export list since the Gulf War, the Bush administration has balked at efforts to strengthen the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which bans the development and stockpiling of germ warfare agents.
The treaty has been signed by 164 nations, including the United States and Iraq.
Over the objections of European allies, however, the State Department in July withdrew from negotiations to strengthen the treaty on the grounds that the proposed inspection system was ineffectual and measures to assure the compliance of rogue nations such as Iraq would not be legally binding.
U.S. officials have
indicated they plan no further discussion on the treaty until 2006 to give them
time to consider alternate means of enforcement (UCLA, 2002).
Title: A Virus-Fed Doomsday
Date: October 10, 2002
Source: LA Times
Abstract: The debate among the nation's politicians and the advice they're receiving from intelligence experts should not focus exclusively on diplomacy versus preemptive military action against Saddam Hussein. Instead, there is one nightmarish outcome -- the so-called bio-Armageddon scenario -- that is of immediate concern.
It goes like this: We go in to take out Hussein, and his obedient henchmen pull a "doomsday" switch, releasing contagious biological agents for which there is no vaccine and no cure. Not only are hundreds of thousands of American troops wiped out but, if Hussein wishes to die a martyr's death, the virulent agents are released to spread around the world and wipe out half of mankind.
Even mentioning this subject may seem like scaremongering, but it's not. In today's dicey world, this horrific possibility is a biological, military and political fact of life -- or death -- that cannot be dismissed out of hand.
How seriously has the bio-Armageddon scenario been weighed in councils of war? An Oct. 7 letter from CIA Director George Tenet to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, stated that a cornered Hussein might use "his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him."
It costs about $1 million to kill one person with a nuclear weapon, about $1,000 to kill one person with a chemical weapon and about $1 to kill one person with a biological weapon. Low cost alone may dictate that current and future terrorists will opt for the $1 biological killers.
Last year, a bombshell of a scientific paper, published in the Journal of Virology, revealed that a bioengineered form of mousepox -- a close cousin of smallpox -- was vaccine-resistant and 100% lethal. It showed that simply inserting one immune-inhibiting gene into mousepox was all it took.
Is it conceivable that Hussein's well-trained scientists, who crave to please their boss at any cost, have not read this paper and applied its findings to smallpox?
This year, another stunning paper in the research journal Science described the complete synthesis of the poliovirus genome in the test tube. This feat of bioengineering pointed out that deadly viruses, such as smallpox, can be resurrected in the test tube. No seed germs are required, as previously thought, just genetic sequences, training in molecular biology at the master's-in-science level and a few years of laboratory work.
It's hard to underestimate or sugarcoat these scientific papers. They offer a blueprint for creating vaccine-resistant and highly lethal viruses that could, for example, render the current smallpox vaccine stockpile and the U.S. government's emergency vaccination program absolutely useless. This biological genie may pose a far greater threat than 1,000 atomic bombs.
It's no longer hypothetical to bioengineer such an agent. And less than $1 million would be required to create deadly and contagious agents.
In the wrong hands, a bioengineered virus could be bottled and used as an insurance policy against invasion and overthrow. And, if unleashed, it could change the very fabric of remaining modern civilization. At a minimum, too many people might be stricken to continue to operate oil refineries, power plants, airlines and communications.
A completely new appraisal and posture are needed to deal with these threats.
First, the U.S. needs to train and place more intelligence agents knowledgeable in this type of warfare throughout the world, because the work taking place in a secret offensive biological weapons program cannot be monitored from airplanes or satellites. It must be spied on firsthand.
Building our biological human intelligence capabilities will take years. It will require the scientific, law enforcement and national security communities to finally work together, which they have shown little inclination to do.
Second, we need to build a high-speed/high-volume infectious disease laboratory and information processing system that links the molecular fingerprints of biological agents to their sources worldwide.
Such a system would provide comprehensive and rapid analyses of biological agents and, when every moment counts, it could help to save countless lives after an attack -- both at home and abroad.
If we had such a laboratory and biological sample collection program working, we could test for the combined signatures of pox viruses and virus-altering proteins. If, for example, the two were found to reside in the wrong hands or places, we could take preemptive actions.
Here's the bottom
line: Bio-Armageddon and biological blackmail cannot continue to remain as realistic
options for terrorists (LA Times, 2002).
Title: Official: U.S. Has Bioterrorism Holes
Date: January 8, 2003
Abstract: The United States has some serious holes in its defenses against the kind of biological weapons the military assumes Iraq has, the Army's top biological defense expert said Wednesday.
The Pentagon has few or no vaccines or treatments for several biological weapons Iraq has acknowledged producing, such as botulinum toxin, said Col. Erik Henchal, head of the Army's biological defense laboratory. Other holes in the military's biological defenses include the lack of good vaccines or treatments for plague, various viruses which cause the brain inflammation called encephalitis and bacterial poisons called staphlococcal enterotoxins, Henchal said.
"We're trying to fill those holes as best we can," said Henchal, who directs the Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID.
For example, the Army lab has developed vaccine-like preventative treatments for the seven forms of deadly botulinum poison but hasn't had the money to get them into full-scale production, he said.
"We've been fairly helpless, except to say we hope someone's paying attention," Henchal told a group of reporters.
"Until 9-11, it was difficult to get the pharmaceutical industry interested in our products. We have 20 medical products on the goal line, waiting to go."
Military officials assume Iraq has biological weapons including the smallpox virus, and Iraq can produce novel germ weapons such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Henchal said.
He said the Army is sending its only mobile biological testing unit to the Persian Gulf this week. The Maryland-based unit does rapid testing to help confirm an attack with germ weapons.
U.S. military intelligence officials say biological weapons are one of Iraq's few major threats to American forces should President Bush decide to go to war. The Pentagon assumes Saddam has the missiles, aircraft and other gear needed to launch a biological attack against either military or civilian targets in the region.
Anthrax is the military's top biological weapon worry, since it's a common, hardy bacterium that's relatively easy to make into a deadly weapon, Henchal said. But countries like Iraq might be reluctant to use anthrax against U.S. troops because American soldiers are immunized against anthrax and have the antibiotics needed to treat anthrax illness, he said.
That makes botulinum toxins a big worry.
The U.S. military has some botulinum toxoids, which are inactivated forms of the poisons which work like vaccines to prevent the poisons' deadly effects. But those toxoids are losing potency, Henchal said. USAMRIID hopes to have vaccines against two botulinum toxins in production by the end of the year, he said.
The U.S. military assumes that North Korea, as well as Iraq, has samples of the smallpox virus, and it's possible the two countries have exchanged information on that and other biological weapons, Henchal said. He said "it's a bit of a fantasy" to assume that the only smallpox samples in the world are the two publicly declared samples in the United States and Russia.
"It's clear from
intelligence that the genie is out of the bottle," Henchal said of
smallpox (UCLA, 2003).
Title: US Plans For Use Of Gas In Iraq
Date: February 7, 2003
Source: Sunshine Project
Abstract: Top US military planners are preparing for the US to use incapacitating biochemical weapons in an invasion of Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed the plans in February 5th testimony before the US House Armed Services Committee. This is the first official US acknowledgement that it may use (bio)chemical weapons in its crusade to rid other countries of such weapons. The Sunshine Project and other nonprofits have warned since late 2001 that the "War on Terrorism" may result in the United States using prohibited biological and chemical armaments, thereby violating the same treaties it purports to defend. The US announcement creates grave concerns for the future of arms control agreements, particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Rumsfeld stated that plans are being made for multiple applications, including use of gas or aerosols on unarmed Iraqi civilians, in caves, and on prisoners. Rumsfeld reiterated the confusing, typical US official language about so-called "non-lethal" biochemical weapons. Rumsfeld described applications of a "riot agent" that clearly imply the complete incapacitation of victims, combatant and non-combatant, in armed conflict - a definition and usages that are at odds with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Rumsfeld acknowledged US ratification of the CWC but expressed "regret" about its restrictions, stating that the US has "tangled ourselves up so badly" on policy for use of incapacitating biochemical weapons. Rumsfeld indicated that - in his opinion - if President Bush signs a waiver of long-standing restrictions on US use of incapacitating chemicals, that the US will be able to legally field them in Iraq and elsewhere.
The focal points for US development of these weapons are the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate in Quantico, Virginia, and the US Army Soldier Biological Chemical Command, located at Edgewood/Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Following their capture in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the US has used incapacitating chemicals on suspected terrorist "detainees". In October 2002, Russian Special Forces used a so-called "non-lethal" incapacitating biochemical weapon when storming the Palace of Culture Theater in Moscow. It resulted in the deaths of over 100 hostages and was used to facilitate the extrajudicial execution of as many as 50 Chechen separatists. Before the War on Terrorism began, British officials stated that they would not cooperate with the US military in missions where US troops used incapacitating chemicals.
The Sunshine Project
has established an online clearinghouse of dozens of documents from the
US research program on
these weapons, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (Sunshine Project, 2003).
Title: Ever Heard Of Iraqibacter?
Date: July 9, 2009
Abstract: With MacDill AFB right here in town, there is a good chance you may know somebody who has been deployed to Iraq.
“Iraqibacter” is actually an extremely antibiotic resistant bacterium called Acinetobacter baumanii.
The bacteria enter the bloodstream through open wounds or tubes such as catheters inserted in the body. Initially, it was seen in military personnel being treated for life-threatening injuries in Iraq field hospitals. But hundreds of cases have since been reported.
Treatment is hampered by its growing resistance to all but one antibiotic, which can be highly toxic. Doctors say the bacterial strain has complicated the recovery of hundreds of injured service members returning from Iraq.
Acinetobacter species in general are found in soil and water. Acinetobacter baumanniispecies are rarely ever found outside of the hospital environment and thrive in wet or on dry surfaces.
It is typically transmitted in the hospital environment by not following the strictest infection control practices.
Acinetobacter is classified as an opportunistic pathogen. Healthy people can carry the bacteria on their skin with no ill effects, also known as colonization.
But in newborns, the elderly, burn victims, patients with depressed immune systems, and those on ventilators, Acinetobacter infections can kill.
The spread of a pathogen that targets wounded GIs has caused military officials to look at ways to stop the spread of the bacterium in military hospitals and to develop better ways of tracking infections.
There has been some evidence that the bacteria has spread to some hospitals here in the states. There are certain things you can do to help prevent spreading or getting the infection as a patient in a hospital.
According to Betsy McCaughey, founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, you can do the following:
• Practice infection-protection. If you're having surgery, ask the surgeon about infection rates. Surgeons know their rate of infection for various procedures, and you have a right to know.
• Stay clean at the hospital. If you're visiting a hospital, wash yourself and your clothes right after. Don't use bar soap in any hospital bathroom or set your purse on the floor.
• Be pushy. Ask medical personnel to wash their hands. Don't be falsely assured by gloves, if caregivers have pulled on gloves over dirty hands, the gloves are contaminated, too (Examiner, 2009).
Title: Bush Bio Says He Was Told Of Iraqi Bioweapons By Egyptian President
Date: November 12, 2010
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: Former U.S. President George Bush recently announced that he had been told of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons, by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Bush made the statement in his memoirs, "Decision Points." In the book, Bush also highlights other mistakes he made during the Iraq war campaign, according to the Voice of America.
"President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had told [general] Tommy Franks that Iraq had biological weapons and was certain to use them on our troops," Bush wrote, according to Voice of America.. “Intelligence from a Middle Eastern leader who knew [former Iraqi president] Saddam [Hussein] well had an impact on my thinking."
The former president also revealed that Mubarak had insisted the information stay private, so that ordinary Arabs would not become incensed. Bush wrote that he had to consider the wishes of those in power in the Middle East.
"Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s longtime ambassador to Washington and a friend of mine since dad’s presidency, came to the Oval Office and told me our allies in the Middle East wanted a decision," Bush wrote, Voice of America reports.
As concern grew among America’s Middle Eastern allies in 2003, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan insisted that the indecision was hurting the U.S. economy. Bush said that such events increased the pressure on him to act.
Bush also wrote of how he felt when it became certain that weapons of mass destruction were not going to be found.
"No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we
didn't find the weapons [of mass destruction]," Bush said, according to
Voice of America. "I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about
it. I still do" (Bio
Prep Watch, 2010).
Title: Iraq Marks Anniversary Of 1988 Chemical Bombings
Date: March 18, 2011
Source: Bio Prep Watch
Abstract: The anniversary of the 1988 chemical bombings of Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s regime was recently marked in Halabja, Iraq.
“We cannot forget the time we lived in the shadow of one of the worst dictators of the world,” Halabja’s mayor, Kdher Kareem said, according to PressTV.ir.
The bombing claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people and injured at least 10,000. Tens of thousands responded by fleeing the area for the Iranian border, taking refuge in makeshift camps, according to PressTV.ir.
Hundreds came to Halabja to mourn the victims of the attack. Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barham Salih was present and gave a speech. During the speech, Salih was heckled by two men, one of whom took aim at the prime minister with his prosthetic leg.
Taking the incident in stride, Salih later spoke with the men and listened to their complaints.
“They are our people," Salih said, according to PressTV.ir. "I have to listen to them. I have to answer their needs. I am proud of what we have done in Halabja. Look at Halabja today compared to what it was years before."
Kareem witnessed the aftermath of the bombing raids and later went on to appear as a witness in the trial of the man known as Chemical Ali, who would later be executed for his role.
In the town square, 1,000 protestors gathered to voice their displeasure about the government, despite warnings from security forces and the mayor’s office. Some recent anti-government protests have turned violent, claiming the life of one police officer.
Despite the protest ban, the
demonstrations this day were largely peaceable and were carried on without
incident, PressTV.ir said (Bio
Prep Watch, 2011).
Title: UK Experts To Help Iraq Destroy Last Of Saddam's Chemical Weapons
Date: July 30, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: The British Embassy in Baghdad says it will help the Iraqi government dispose of what's left of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons.
The remaining munitions are stored in two bunkers in southern Baghdad.
A statement issued Monday said the British Defense Ministry will start training Iraqi technical and medical workers this year. The teams will work to safely destroy remnants of munitions and chemical warfare agents left over from Saddam's regime. He was overthrown in 2003 following an American-led invasion.
Most of the chemical weapons were destroyed by military forces in 1991 during the first Gulf War or by U.N. inspectors after the fighting. The inspections halted just before the invasion.
Iraq is a party to the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention and must get rid
of the remaining material (Fox News, 2012).
Title: U.K. Scientists To Train Chemical Weapons Disposal Teams In Iraq
Date: August 3, 2012
Abstract: Scientists from the United Kingdom will train Iraqi chemical weapons disposal teams to rid the stockpiles of chemical weapons produced in the country by Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense will train the disposal teams at its facility in Porton Down, Wiltshire.
Nick Harvey, the defense minister of the United Kingdom, said that the country was happy to support Iraq, BBC reports.
“We were glad to support Iraq when it joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2009,” Harvey said, according to BBC. “One of the key obligations of member states is to destroy any chemical weapons it possesses, so the UK is delighted to be able to help Iraq by providing world-leading expertise and high-quality training to Iraqi personnel involved in this difficult and dangerous task.”
The chemical weapons are located in two sealed bunkers at the Al Muthanna Chemical Weapons Complex, a site located in the western desert 80 kilometers northwest of Baghdad. The facility was the primary manufacturing plant for chemical munitions and agents during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Most of the weapons were destroyed after the completion of the first Gulf War.
The weapons were used during the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988. In
1988, the chemical weapons were used against the Kurds in Halabja in an attack
that killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people, according to BBC (BioPrepWatch, 2012).