Highlights of the WMD report

Financial Times

Published: October 6 2004

Selected excerpts from the report of the Iraq Survey Group, headed by Charles Duelfer, presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Iraqs WMD strategy

The Iraqis believed their willingness to use WMD (CW & BW) contributed substantially to deterring the United States from going to Baghdad in 1991. WMD demonstrated its worth to Saddam.

The guiding theme for WMD was to sustain the intellectual capacity achieved over so many years at such a great cost and be in a position to produce again with as short a lead time as possible.

There is an exhaustive yet fragmentary and circumstantial body of evidence to suggest that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted by preserving assets and expertise.

ISG has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD stocks in 2003 but the available evidence from its investigation... leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq, although not of a militarily significant capability.

Saddam implied, according to his presidential secretary, that Iraq would resume WMD programmes after sanctions in order to restore the strategic balance within the regime and particularly against Israel.

Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks but he intended to focus on ballistic missiles and tactical chemical warfare capabilities.

There was no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions.

At a cabinet meeting in January 1991, during the first Gulf War, a transcript of which is contained in the report, Saddam talked of attacking Riyadh, Jeddah and Tel Aviv with BW and CW agents.

Nuclear issues

ISG has found that high level Iraqi interest in aluminium tubes has come from efforts to produce 81mm rockets, rather than a nuclear end use.

So far ISG has found only one offer of uranium to Baghdad since 1991 an approach Iraq appears to have turned down. In mid-May 2003, the ISG found a document in the Iraqi Intelligence Service that said a Ugandan businessman had approached the Iraqis with an offer to sell uranium, reportedly from the Congo.

There is no evidence that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991.

Chemical weapons

In March 1991, Saddam used chemical weapons nerve agent and CS in the Najaf and Karbala areas, the first time cW use has been documented after the Iran-Iraq war finished in 1988. A senior participant in the CW programme estimated that 10-20 R-400 aerial bombs were used. Another report said 32. Sarin was selcted as the agent, because stocks of VX were not available and mustard agent had been ruled out because of its detectable persistence.

Long range missiles

Iraq was designing missile systems with the assumption that sanctioned material would be readily available. Iraq was able to import 380 liquid fuel rocket engines.

Saddam and the war

In Saddam's last ministers meeting convened in March 2003 just before the invasion, he told the attendees at least three times, 'resist one week and after that I will take over'. They took this to mean he had some kind of secret weapon.

Some senior military officers and regime officials were uncertain about the existence of WMD because of Saddam's mixed signals.

Tariq Aziz told debriefers on June 23 2003: He thought they would not fight a ground war because it would be too costly for them. He was overconfident. He was clever but his calculations were poor.

Other highlights

Oil-for-food: He gave prominent vocal Iraq supporters and willing influential UN officials lucrative oil allocations.

Towards the end of his rule, Saddam became more reclusive and relied even less on advisers for decision making, while turning more and more to relatives.

By Saddam's own account, he only used a telephone line twice since 1990 for fear of being located for a US attack.

There was no incentive and/or motivation for Saddam to cooperate with the debriefers, except to shape his legacy. Saddam is concerned with his place in history and how history will view him.