15 March 1990


Subject: ISSUES (U)


1. Use of Chemicals in the Iran-Iraq War (U)

a.              In 1982, early in the war, the Iraqis used riot control

agents to repel Iranian attacks. They progressed to the use of CW agents in

mid-1983 with mustard, and in March 1984 with tabun (the first use ever of

a nerve agent in war). The Iraqis continued to use chemical weapons until

the end of hostilities in August 1988; in addition they introduced the nerve

agents sarin and GF late in the war. Iran used chemical weapons late in the

war, but never as extensively or successfully as Iraq. Although the Iraqis

initially used chemical weapons to prevent defeat and to reduce battlefield

losses, they later integrated CW attacks into combined-armed operations

designed to regain lost territory and to gain the offensive. The success or

offensive operations in the southern sector in mid-1988 ultimately caused

the Iranians to cease hostilities. The use of chemical weapons contributed

to the success of these operations. The implications or the Iraqis' success

in introducing CW to the Middle East battlefield extend beyond that region

to the rest of the world.

b.             The Iraqis demonstrated the effectiveness of chemical weapons

on the battlefield, particularly the negative effect on enemy morale. Other

lessons also have been learned by Iraq and other Middle East countries:

 CW is a way to compensate for inferior numbers or forces and to protect

against the loss of territory.

 Treaties, such as the Geneva Protocol, which prohibit the use or chemical

weapons do not ensure against an enemy's use or CW.

 The superpowers are unwilling, or unable, to stop the flow or needed

technical assistance, chemical precursors, and process equipment, or to

prevent or stop the use or chemical weapons in a war.

[b.1. sec. 1.5.(c)]

5. Implications for US Forces (U)

a.     The expanded availability Or chemical weapons in the Middle East has

increased the probability that any US forces deployed to the region in

either military actions or peacekeeping, roles might be exposed to CW


[b.1. sec. 1.5.(a)]

  In combat actions the US forces would face enemy personnel having the

advantage of long term acclimation to the local conditions of higher

temperatures, less shade, and restricted water sources. These climatic

conditions would tend to reduce the effectiveness of US personnel and, given

the insulating effect of the battle dress overgarment (BDO), they would

increase the number of heat-related casualties even if only lower levels of

mission-oriented protective posture (M0PP) were in effect. The need for

added logistical support-of protective equipment, decontamination

facilities, and additional medical burdens--would also have a negative

impact on planners and deployed forces. Of necessity, then, US forces must

be prepared, from initial conceptual planning through equipping, training,

operational planning, and final execution of orders, to operate in and cope

with a chemically contaminated environment.

b.             US forces must expect to encounter any of the CW agents

mentioned in section I, as well as riot control agents such as CN, CS, and

DA. To recapitulate, the CW agents include the blister agents sulfur mustard

and nitrogen mustard (either in the liquid form or impregnated on a dust

carrier), the choking agent phosgene, possibly a cyanide blood agent, and

the nerve agents tabun, sarin, soman, GF, and possibly VX (see label Vll).

None of these agents is new; all have been known for more than 30 years. 

[b.1. sec. 1.5.(a)]



                                                  Medically there are no

antidotes for mustard exposure and tabun exposure is not readily treated by

currently fielded atropine-oxime combinations without appropriate

pretreatment. Another problem that surfaced during the Iran-Iraq war is the

use of multiple agents in an attack. Iraq used a nerve agent along with

sulfur mustard, a combination that led to problems for Iranian detection and

casualty treatment.






              Summary of CW Agents in the Middle East

Known                                       possible


Phosgene                               VX

Sulfur mustard                  A cyanide

Nitrogen mustard                

[b.1. sec. 1.5.(c)]

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