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different from this moment in time than the last four years or the next
year or two?
Any decision to act against Iraq must begin with answers to basic questions about the nature of the danger and the immediacy of the threat. From there, Congress can exercise its constitutional responsibility by examining any administration plan and timetable for dealing with this threat. I thank both witnesses for being with us today and sharing their expertise. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Richard O. Spertzel, VMD Ph.D.
10 September 2002
House Armed Service Committee
STATE OF THE IRAQI WMD PROGRAM
Iraq's Biological Weapons (BW) Program was among the most secretive of its weapons-of-massdestruction (WMD) programs. Its existence was not acknowledged until July 1995. From 1991 to 1995, Iraq categorically denied it had a BW program and took active steps to conceal the program from the UN Special Commission. This pattern of denial and concealment continued through the termination of inspections by Iraq. These steps included fraudulent statements, false and forged documents, misrepresentation of the roles of people and facilities, and other specific acts of deception. The pattern of deception appears to continue even unto the present. The full extent and the objective of Iraq's BW program has never been disclosed by Iraq.
Iraq's Biological Weapons Program, Then and Now: Iraq asserts that its BW program began in 1985 and dismisses the earlier BW investigations that began in late 1972/early 1973 as being insignificant. From its inception in the 1970s, Iraq's BW program included both military and terrorist applications. The program included bacteria, viruses, toxins, and agents causing plant diseases. The agents included lethal and incapacitating agents for humans and economic damaging agents. The program sought enhanced virulence, environmental and antibiotic resistance, and aerosol dispersion. In other words, this was a well planned, broadly encompassing program. The covert (terrorist and assassination) feature of Iraq's program was not actively pursued by UNSCOM.
BW Program under Intelligence Service/Special Security Organization: The evidence suggests that Iraq's BW program was under the Intelligence Service/SSO. Much of this information came from senior Iraqi personnel, during the course of interviews. Hard evidence as might be expected is lacking.
Irag's BW program (and, initially, it appears its chemical weapons (CW) program as well) was founded and funded by Iraq's Intelligence Service with some limited technical input from Iraq's Ministry of Defense. A variety of cover organizations were used to conceal the program including the Ministries of Interior, Health, and Higher Education and Scientific Research. From its inception, there were two distinct interests for the program. One dealt with the pursuit of agents that had small scale, covert application and the other would have application to larger scale strategic/military purpose.
Except for the period from 1979 to 1987 when the military portion of the BW program paralleled and was a part of the CW program under direct Ministry of Defense influence, the BW program remained (and probably remains) under the SSO (Amn al Khass). In 1987, the military relevant piece of the BW program was rejoined with the covert BW program. Iraq has repeatedly stated that the BW program was different than the other WMD programs in that it did not report to the staff of Military Industrial Commission (MIC), but rather reported directly to Hussein Kamal Hassan or his senior deputy, Dr. Amer Al Sa'adi (a similar reporting system existed for the SSO). Interview information clearly indicates that the BW-filled weapons remained under the control of the SSO up to and including whatever destruction of such weapons as might have occurred. It is likely that the BW program still remains under the SSO.
Iraq asserts that the program was obliterated in 1991 but this is patently not true. On three separate occasions in 1997 and 1998 panels of international experts reviewed all the information available to UNSCOM. These panels concluded Iraq's BW program was far more complex and extensive than that which Iraq had acknowledged.
BW Program End of 1990: By any definition, in 1990/1991, Iraq's BW program was in an accelerating expansion phase. Iraq's bacterial BW capabilities were reasonably well established, including its ability for production, concentration, spray drying, and delivery to produce a readily dispersable small particle aerosol. Iraq was well underway in establishing a virus research, development, and production capability, but had not reached weaponization potential. Iraq had demonstrated an anticrop capability. It had demonstrated a mycotoxin capability. Although there was no information on an anti-animal program, such agents were well within Iraq's capability. Along with its agent production, Iraq was developing a weapons delivery capability, apparently for both short range and intermediate range delivery. The agents included lethal, incapacitating, and agricultural biological warfare agents. There is a major disparity between the amount of agent declared as produced by Iraq and that estimated by UNSCOM experts.
A serious issue concerns Iraq's interest in and weaponization of aflatoxin. It is apparent that Iraq's interest was in its long-term carcinogenic and liver toxicity effect rather than any short-term effects. One can only wonder what was the intended target population.
Field tests encompassed point source releases, small area contamination, and large-scale line source release and were evaluated both for tactical and strategic use. The weapons and range of agents considered provided Iraq with a variety of options for their use.
Iraq had deployed R400 aerial bombs to at least three locations in western and southern Iraq, and had also deployed Al Hussein (SCUD) missiles BW-filled warheads and at least one "droptank." Additionally Iraq had field-tested BW agents in 122mm rocket warheads and 155mm artillery shells.
Iraq also had an interest in landmines, flechettes, fragmentation weapons, drones, missiles, thin-skinned aluminum weapons, fiber glass-coated weapons, and Supergun projectiles. No investigation of field testing is acknowledged for these weapon types although there are indications that interest had developed in such weapons for biological warfare purposes.
Iraq's BW program in 1998: Although Iraq claims that it "obliterated the program in 1991 (without the supervision by the UN as was set out in the ceasefire resolution 687, April 1991), and in so doing it destroyed all weapons and bulk agents unilaterally without any further documentation. The evidence indicates rather that Iraq continued to expand its BW capabilities. UNSCOM monitoring, while useful in hindering Iraq's program, was not successful in preventing some degree of continuation of Iraq's BW investigations.
Expert panels concluded that it was not certain that Iraq had indeed "obliterated" its BW program. Documentation recovered by UNSCOM indicated a continued build up of Iraq's BW program capability. The organizations associated with its BW program continued to acquire and attempted to acquire equipment that would enhance its BW capability.
Among the expansion plans were design and construction of 5,000 and 50,000 liter fermentation units for Al Hakam and Tuwaltha. Disturbingly, such procurement actions included a rather large production plant in association with external assistance. Joint negotiations centered on the design, construction, and operation of a 50,000 liter fermentation facility consisting, not of one 50,000 liter fermenter and associated lesser fermenters and tanks as might be expected for scale up of a SCP plant, but rather, five 10,000 liter fermenters and associated lesser fermenters and tanks. The key Iraqi players on the negotiating team were the head of botulinum toxin production in 1990, two BW facility engineers, and a MIC representative.
Iraq has now developed the capability to produce critical equipment (fermenters, centrifuges, spray dryers, etc.) and to produce critical supplies, e.g., standardized growth media. Interestingly, Iraq only developed standardized media of direct importance to its BW program rather than media types that
would have more generalized medical/hospital applications. This effort continued at least through 1998.
It is also noteworthy that Iraq's experienced senior personnel who were active in Iraq's BW program in the 1980s remained intact as a unit throughout the inspection period.
In essence, Iraq retained the personnel for its BW program. It tried to retain equipment and supplies. When UNSCOM forced the acknowledgement of Iraq's BW program and subsequent destruction of equipment, facilities, and supplies, Iraq developed the indigenous capability to produce critical equipment and supplies. Although Al Hakam was completely destroyed, not all production capable equipment in Iraq was destroyed or rendered harmless. Iraq's reluctance to fully and openly declare the full extent of its BW program only enhances the perception that Iraq still maintains a BW program.
UNITED NATIONS BW INSPECTION AND MONITORING EFFORTS IN IRAQ
UNSCOM operated in Iraq from May 1991 until December 1998. Iraq was a defeated country and subject to the coercive disarmament measures of UN Resolution 687. This resolution compelled Iraq to give up its existing WMD capabilities and accept monitoring by UN inspectors to assure such activities were not reconstituted. Resolutions 687, 707, 715 (and others) gave UNSCOM extraordinary rights to conduct intrusive no-notice inspections as well as access to any location, person, document, computer, etc., UNSCOM felt necessary to accomplish its task.
The reality was far from this utopian ideal. UNSCOM experienced obstructions in Iraq from the beginning. Ultimately, UNSCOM was not able to accomplish fully either the task of accounting for Iraqi weapons programs nor monitoring to assure Iraq did not reconstitute prohibited programs. Iraq gradually gave up only what UNSCOM could prove Iraq still retained. UNSCOM could not prove Iraq had an offensive BW program. Nor did any country, including the United States, provide any intelligence for UNSCOM to act upon to catch the Iraqis. The key thread that UNSCOM followed to the Iraqi program was the record of Iraq importing vast quantities of biological growth media-totally out of scale with any legitimate civillan purposes. (Iraq can now produce such material indigenously.}
By early 1995, with the accumulating evidence amassed by UNSCOM, most countries were rightly concerned about Iraq's BW capability. At the expert level (leading BW experts including personnel from all P5 members of the UNSC) this level of concern continued through 1998, but at the political/diplomatic level, some countries experts' concern was not reflected in the verbiage and actions by the respective leaders and diplomats. I cite this disparity between the experts and the diplomats because I believe it has implications should inspections resume.
Implementation of Monitoring: Only after Iraq, in November 1993, accepted SCR 715(1991), could UNSCOM begin the necessary steps to implement monitoring. While monitoring began for CW and missiles in October 1994, the monitoring for BW could not be fully implemented until April 1995. The system was designed following an extensive year-long effort to survey every site in Iraq with some potential for biological activity. This included detailed examinations of hospitals, university microbiology labs, breweries, vaccine plants, etc. For each site, UNSCOM collected extensive data on the facility, interviewed staff, searched documents, etc. Based on such data, inspection protocols were drawn up that prescribed how each site should be monitored. Over 80 sites were designated for regular monitoring in the BW area.
Monitoring required each site subject to monitoring to submit on a semi-annual basis extensive formats requesting detailed information about the sites activities and personnel during preceding period. These data were analyzed and checked by resident teams based in Baghdad. In addition high priority sites were required to submit monthly monitoring parameters that were specifically designed for each site. A few sites were also selected for monitoring with video cameras capable of recording as well as
transmitting live to the UNSCOM offices.
UNSCOM was able to generate a lot of evidence that Iraqi declarations were not accurate. As regards the accuracy and completeness of Iraq's declaration and the likelihood that it was continuing its BW program, nothing has occurred to change the opinion of the experts. Nor does it appear, in spite of the lip-service that is given to getting inspectors back into Iraq, that there has been any material change in the support that an inspection regime might expect from UNSC P5 members. It appears that most of the proposals for getting inspectors back into Iraq is based on the premise that "any inspectors are better than none." To be blunt, that is pure rubbish, just an illusion of inspections. Even while UNSCOM Inspectors were still operable, Iraq was constantly trying to restrict monitoring Inspectors activities, curb their access, and require notification of inspections, even to monitored sites. Such limitations to monitoring would make such a regime a farce; under such circumstances, monitoring inspectors would be worse than no inspectors because it would provide an inappropriate illusion of compliance to the world community. What countries really believe and what they will espouse are most likely two entirely different views. I was told by a senior diplomat in 1998 "it would not matter if you placed a BW-laden Al Hussein warhead that you found in Iraq on the UNSC table, it would not change opinions about lifting sanctions". He added "if the CW and missile files are closed, the world will not care about biology." It appears to me that this may still be the viewpoint of several nations.
Monitoring: Monitoring teams, unlike popular misperception, are not set up for discovery, e.g., finding undeclared sites or completing unfinished proscribed program investigations. Rather these teams were designed to be a deterrent to reconstituting a proscribed program using dual-use equipment at declared sites. In UNSCOM terminology this meant the large-scale military relevant programs; it did not address the very low-scale required for terrorist purposes. Implementation of monitoring by UNSCOM was predicated on Iraq fully and willingly cooperating with UNSCOM; that did not happen. Iraq would only give up and can be expected to give up only what the inspectors can find and prove.
It was also predicated on Iraq providing full and complete disclosure of its proscribed BW program; that did not happen. It was also predicated on Iraq making full and accurate disclosure of all facilities containing dual use equipment and capability; that did not happen.
To be effective, the monitoring system must pose a reasonable risk to Iraq of the monitoring system detecting violations of a significant scale. Even under the best of circumstances it would be almost impossible to detect small-scale research, development, and production of BW agents by a State determined to conduct such activities. Without a sense of certainty by Iraq that there would be severe repercussions by a united UNSC, monitoring does not have a chance of true success.
A fundamental requirement for monitoring to be effective depends not only on having highly qualified inspectors but equally important on full support by the UNSC. Past history indicates that Iraq can hinder and in some cases outright block Inspectors with impunity and then attempt to blame the incidents on the inspectors. The UNSC does not seem able to equate failure to cooperate with failure to comply.
Monitoring and Inspections - Prospects for Success: This is very difficult on which to comment. The success or failure depends too much on uncontrollable elements. What will be the conditions under which the inspectors return? What support will the inspection regime have, given Iraq's recalcitrance and the likely lack of unanimous support in the UNSC? Will Iraq truly cooperate and reveal or destroy all its BW activity? Or will Iraq continue its established pattern of deception, denial, and concealment?
What would be required for success? The right, accepted again by Iraq and enforced by all members of the UNSC, for immediate, unconditional access to physical locations, personnel, and documents as determined necessary by the Inspectorate. Any limitations or conditions on access will produce large reductions in effectiveness and credibility of monitoring. The demand by the UNSC that Iraq provides a complete disclosure of its WMD with supporting evidence that can be verified and not accept the Illusion