print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
 Home > News & Policies > Policies in Focus > Renewal in Iraq

Saddam Hussein's Development of Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • In 2001, an Iraqi defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, said he had visited twenty secret facilities for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Mr. Saeed, a civil engineer, supported his claims with stacks of Iraqi government contracts, complete with technical specifications. Mr. Saeed said Iraq used companies to purchase equipment with the blessing of the United Nations - and then secretly used the equipment for their weapons programs.

  • Iraq admitted to producing biological agents, and after the 1995 defection of a senior Iraqi official, Iraq admitted to the weaponization of thousands of liters of anthrax, botulinim toxin, and aflatoxin for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs and aircraft.

  • United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) experts concluded that Iraq's declarations on biological agents vastly understated the extent of its program, and that Iraq actually produced two to four times the amount of most agents, including anthrax and botulinim toxin, than it had declared.

  • UNSCOM reported to the UN Security Council in April 1995 that Iraq had concealed its biological weapons program and had failed to account for 3 tons of growth material for biological agents.

  • The Department of Defense reported in January 2001 that Iraq has continued to work on its weapons programs, including converting L-29 jet trainer aircraft for potential vehicles for the delivery of chemical or biological weapons.

  • The al-Dawrah Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Facility is one of two known biocontainment level-three facilities in Iraq that have an extensive air handling and filtering system. Iraq has admitted that this was a biological weapons facility. In 2001, Iraq announced that it would begin renovating the plant without UN approval, ostensibly to produce vaccines that it could more easily and more quickly import through the UN.

  • Saddam Hussein continues its attempts to procure mobile biological weapons laboratories that could be used for further research and development.

Chemical Weapons

Saddam Hussein launched a large-scale chemical weapons attack against Iraq's Kurdish population in the late 1980s, killing thousands. On at least 10 occasions, Saddam Hussein's military forces have attacked Iranian and Kurdish targets with combinations of mustard gas and nerve agents through the use of aerial bombs, 122-millimeter rockets, and conventional artillery shells. Saddam Hussein continues his efforts to develop chemical weapons:

  • Gaps identified by UNSCOM in Iraqi accounting and current production capabilities strongly suggest that Iraq maintains stockpiles of chemical agents, probably VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard.

  • Iraq has not accounted for hundreds of tons of chemical precursors and tens of thousands of unfilled munitions, including Scud variant missile warheads.

  • Iraq has not accounted for at least 15,000 artillery rockets that in the past were its preferred vehicle for delivering nerve agents, nor has it accounted for about 550 artillery shells filled with mustard agent.

  • Iraq continues to rebuild and expand dual-use infrastructure that it could quickly divert to chemical weapons production, such as chlorine and phenol plants.

  • Iraq is seeking to purchase chemical weapons agent precursors and applicable production equipment, and is making an effort to hide activities at the Fallujah plant, which was one of Iraq's chemical weapons production facilities before the Gulf War.

  • At Fallujah and three other plants, Iraq now has chlorine production capacity far higher than any civilian need for water treatment, and the evidence indicates that some of its chlorine imports are being diverted for military purposes.

Nuclear Weapons

Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program before the Gulf War and continues his work to develop a nuclear weapon:

  • A new report released on September 9, 2002 from the International Institute for Strategic Studies - an independent research organization - concludes that Saddam Hussein could build a nuclear bomb within months if he were able to obtain fissile material.

  • Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes which officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.

  • Iraq has withheld documentation relevant to its past nuclear program, including data about enrichment techniques, foreign procurement, weapons design, experimental data, and technical documents.

  • Iraq still has the technical expertise and some of the infrastructure needed to pursue its goal of building a nuclear weapon.

  • Saddam Hussein has repeatedly met with his nuclear scientists over the past two years, signaling his continued interest in developing his nuclear program.

Ballistic Missiles

  • Iraq is believed to be developing ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers - as prohibited by the UN Security Council Resolution 687.

  • Discrepancies identified by UNSCOM in Saddam Hussein's declarations suggest that Iraq retains a small force of Scud-type missiles and an undetermined number of launchers and warheads.

  • Iraq continues work on the al-Samoud liquid propellant short-range missile (which can fly beyond the allowed 150 kilometers). The al-Samoud and the solid propellant Ababil-100 appeared in a military parade in Baghdad on December 31, 2000, suggesting that both systems are nearing operational deployment.

  • The al-Rafah-North facility is Iraq's principal site for testing liquid propellant missile engines. Iraq has been building a new, larger test stand there that is clearly intended for testing prohibited longer-range missile engines.

  • At their al-Mamoun facility, the Iraqis have rebuilt structures that had been dismantled by UNSCOM that were originally designed to manufacture solid propellant motors for the Badr-2000 missile program.

Last Chapter  |  Table of Contents  |  Next Chapter  ]