Responding to a request from Iraq, the United Nations commission monitoring weapons of mass destruction in the country today released a detailed account on chemical arms there.
“On 7 April, the Permanent Representative of Iraq wrote to the Acting Executive Chairman (of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)) stating that the Government of Iraq intended to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the report, transmitted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council, notes.
It describes how Iraq first started exploring chemical weapons in 1971, and reviews developments through the establishment of a “large-scale chemical weapons programme” in 1981. The capacity expanded from there to the point that “according to Iraq, the use of chemical weapons achieved its major purpose and made a significant impact on the outcome of the Iran-Iraq war.”
According to declarations made by Iraq, in the period from 1981 to 1991 the chemical weapon programme produced approximately 3,850 tons of the chemical warfare agents mustard, tabun, sarin and VX, the report states.
Of the total of some 3,850 tons of chemical warfare agents produced, approximately 3,300 tons of agents were weaponized in different types of aerial bombs, artillery munitions and missile warheads.
In the period from 1981 to 1991, Iraq weaponized some 130,000 chemical munitions in total. Of these, over 101,000 munitions were used in combat, according to Iraq, in the period from 1981 to 1988.
Iraq declared that some 28,500 chemical munitions remained unused as of January 1991; about 5,500 filled munitions were destroyed by coalition forces during the war in 1991, while another 500 filled munitions were declared destroyed unilaterally by Iraq. “These last two figures were partially verified by United Nations inspectors,” the report states.
The bulk of the destruction of some 22,000 filled munitions occurred under the supervision of the UN inspectors in accordance with Security Council resolution 687 (1991) – the “ceasefire resolution” which ended the war – in the period from 1991 to 1994. During the collection of chemical weapons for destruction after the 1991 war, Iraq stated that it was not able to locate some 500 chemical munitions.
“Although a number of issues relating to the Iraqi chemical weapon programme remain unresolved, the United Nations inspectors were able to identify the major parameters of the programme, its scope and the results achieved,” the report states.