Iraqi Chemical & Biological Weapons (CBW) Capabilities [February 17, 1998]   [open pdf - 42KB]

The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) has destroyed large amounts of CB weapons and materials in Iraq since 1991. UNSCOM has reported no firm evidence that Iraq still retains weapons or materiel, but the Iraqi government has not provided adequate evidence to support its claim all its CBW arsenal has been destroyed, nor has it accounted for CBW production materials known to have been in its possession. These factors, coupled with Iraqi obstruction of UNSCOM inspections has led to strong suspicions. U.S. and British intelligence agencies believe that Iraq still may possess tons of chemical warfare agents and the necessary materials to produce thousands of liters of biological agents. In addition, UNSCOM and U.S. intelligence believe Iraq may still have hidden from 2-10 warheads designed to deliver chemical or biological agents. UNSCOM and U.S. intelligence differ in their estimates of the number of missiles that may still be in Iraq. The Iraqi chemical warfare arsenal has included nerve agents (Sarin and VX), blister agents ("mustard gas"), and psychoactive agents (so-called Agent 15). Biological/toxin warfare agents produced by Iraq include anthrax, botulinum, aflotoxins, ebola virus, bubonic and pneumonic plague, ricin, and clostrdium perfringens. Reconstitution of militarily significant production capability using materials unaccounted for to UNSCOM could take only a matter of weeks. During the week of February 23, the Senate is scheduled to consider S.Con.Res. 71, calling on the President to take all necessary and appropriate actions in response to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its lethal weapons program.

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CRS Report for Congress, 98-129
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