3 July 1996
Subject: Khamisiyah (Tall Al Lahm) Ammunition Depot
Purpose: To provide information on the event at the Iraqi ammunition depot at Khamisiyah and their current significance in light of DoD press release of 21 June 1996.
Background: DoD had no confirmed evidence that chemical or biological munitions were forward deployed by Iraq into the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations during Desert Storm. New information, coupled with reevaluations of UN inspector reporting from as early as 1991 now leads us to believe a bunker at Khamisiyah (Tall Al Lahm), within the KTO, may have contained Iraqi chemical munitions.
Details: The following outlines the chronology of events surrounding this issue:
Pre Desert Storm -- DIA did not assess the Khamisiyah ammunition depot as containing either chemical or biological munitions. Therefore, the facility was not a chemical or biological target.
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4-7 March 1991 -- The 37th Engineer Battalion destroyed approximately 100 bunkers in the Khamisiyah area. DIA was not aware of this activity. One bunker was later alleged by Iraq to contain chemical munitions. The allegation was made during UNSCOM 20 in Oct 91 -- details below.
16 May 1991 -- Iraqi declarations to UNSCOM containedapproximately 10 facilities where chenmical munitions are reportedly stored. Khamisiyah is declared as a site containing 6,240 155mmm intact mustard filled artillery shells and 2,160 destrotyed sarin filled 122mm rockets. The Intelligence Community believed Khamisiyah was the Iraqi namw for the Nasiriyah Storage Facility.
September - early October 1991
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Iraq moving large quantities of munitions into the Nasiriyah area.
26-27 October 1991 -- UNSCOM 20 inspection team is taken to Khamisiyah, not Nasiriyah as expected. Iraq shows them mustard rounds laying in the open about five kilometers from the actual site of the Khamisiyah depot.
Iraqis then take inspectord to a "pit" located just outside the depot and across a canal. The pit contained 297 salvaged 122mm rockets. Iraqis claim the rockets were salvaged from "Bunker 73."
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the team is taken to the destroyed Bunker 73, the only site actually inside the deopt. The bunker is completely destroyed. 122mm rockets with their cannisters split open, were scattered about the bunker. No contamination was detected. * * * * The Iraqis alleged the bunker and its munitions were destroyed by occupying Coalition forces. The inspection team reported the bunker destruction may have been a result of locally placed charges.
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At the time, DIA gave the allegation that the rockets were destroyed by Coalition forces little credibility and believed the chemical munitons found at Khamisiyah were brought to the site just prior to the inspection as part of an Iraqi deception effort.
(1) * * * * a deliberate, elaborate, ongoing, Iraqi denial and deception campaign against the entire UNSCOM inspection effort, including CW, BW, SSM, and Nuc programs.
(2) * * * * Iraq was moving large quantities of munitions into the Nasiriyah area during the month prior to the inspection.
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October 1993 -- As a result of increased attention regarding the issue of Gulf War Illness, DIA begins its investigation into the possibility that Gulf War Illness might be caused by exposure to chemical or biological agents either directly or accidentally. Attempts to identify locations of US forces during and after the war were ongoing throughout the investigation via DoD. DIA never received information confirming US forces at Khamisiyah until recently.
April 1994 -- DIA publishes teo papers -- one classified, one for public release -- stating our conclusion that "... based on available informaiton...chemical or biological agents were not used during the Gulf War, and that information available does not support the conclusion that Coalition troops were exposed to airborne plumes of CBW agents caused by bombing Iraqi CBW targets." In both papers DIA states essentially that it did not believe chemical or biological munitions were forward deployed into the KTO.
(1): available information argues strongly that there was no Iraqi intent to use CW against Coalition Forces: * statements made by ten (0-6 * * * stating * * * * retaliation and lack of advantage if used.
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what was considered reliable indications of imminent CW use (i.e. operational patterns * * * * during Iraq's war with Iran) were not evident.
(2) our logic followed that if there were no intent to use CW, why would Iraq forward deploy it?
(3) no CW munitions had been found in the KTO except for those we believed the Iraqis brought to Khamisiyah for the UNSCOM 20 inspection.
* If CW munitions were forward deployed at the start of Desert Storm, it remains difficult to believe that under the most intensive air bombardment in history, Iraq was able to move these munitions out of the KTO, undetected, and without leaving a trace. Since no munitions had been found, we judged they were never in the KTO.
(4) there remians no known CW related casualties, military or civilian, on either the Iraqi or Coalition side.
(5) other than the Czech detections on 19 and 24 January, there are no known confirmed CW detections before or during the entire conflict.
* Ironically, the Czech detections pose an intelligence mystery of their own: if they are accepted as valid, what was their source? The low concentration and short duration of the detection on the 19th, the extremely localized area affected, the meteorological conditions, the absence of other detections by other units nearby, the topography of the area, and the fact that no military action took place anywhere near the area, all suggest a SINGLE release of a ery small amount of agent. Regarding the wet spot of mustard agent encountered by the Czechs on the 24th, its originas are equally mysterious. At this juncture, the most logical explanations for weither incident would seem to be possible live agent tests of the Czech equipment, or possible accidents involving chemical agents among Coalition Forces. There is a paucity of evidence to prove either explaniation, however, and we are unlikelt, through technical means, to acquire any additonal information.
This position on non-deployment of chemical or biological munitoins was reinterated by various DoD officials at various times since then. In hindsight, it might have been better if DIA had dropped the "...into the KTO..." phrase and simply said "not forward deployed."
25 May 1994 -- Dr. Kriese, Dr. Prociv, and Dr. Dorn testify before Chairman Riegle's Banking Committee investigation into US dual use exports to Iraq and thier impact on the health of Gulf War veterans. Much confusion over statements made regarding location of bombed Nasiriyah bunkers, locatoin of US troops after the war, and location and date of found chemical munitions. Dr. Kriese incorrectly states Nasiriyah bunkers were north of the Euphrates River, but correctly states that munitions were found 15 nautical miles away. In a later portionof the hearing, Dr. Oehler (NPC) provided additonal clarifying information, saying that the UN found chemical weapons at a storage site declared by Iraq. It was located "just slightly south of the 31st parallel." At this time, DIA still believed munitions found by UN at Khamisiyah were brought there by Iraq prior to inspection as part of deception campaign.
June 1994 -- Defense Science Board publishes itsd report. In general terms states that there were nochemical munitions in the war zone. Mentions Khamisiyah but states there is a great dela of uncertainty surrounding this site. Does not mention the presence of US troops there after the war.
August 1994 -- DIA provides input the Dr. Dorn's response to Riegle's questions for the record. In it DIA continues to assess, based on information available at the time, that no CW weapons were found in the KTO by US troops. The response describes the chemical munitons found by the UN at Khamisiyah as "... occuring wight months after the war...found 15 miles from the widely discussed bunkers at Nasiriyah (the site which was originally expected to be inspected)... and almost certainly not there during Desert Storm and were most likely brought to that location by the iraqis just before the UN inspection."
1 February 1995 -- DEPSECDEF Deutch 60 minute interview. States:
15 March 1995 -- DCI Deutch initiates CIA investigation into Gulf War Illness.
June 1995 -- PGVIIT stands up. DIA involvement in investigation declines. DIA continues to support PGVIIT however.
September 1995 -- CIA identifies Khamisiyah bunker destruction as a "key issue." Notes discrepancy between Dod statements regarding no forward deployment into KTO, and the fact that Tall Al Lahm is 15 miles inside the loosely defined border of the KTO -- 31'00" North. initially contacts DIA for its explanation. DIA informs CIA of its suspicion of Iraqi deception during the october 1991 inspection at Khamisiyah. PGVIIT, NPC, and UNSCOM to resolve issue.
26 January 1996 -- CIA briefing to NSC mentions conern about the Khamisiyah site.
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10 March 1996 -- On a radio talk show, member of 82nd Airborne (Brian Martin) discusses US demolition activity at Tall Al Lahm and states he videotaped event.
Later Match 1996 -- While addressing Congressman Shay's hearing, Martin states he was unaware chemical munitions were in bunker. Martin further ststes he felt his health problems were due to Pyridostigmine Bromide.
1 May 1996 -- CIA briefs Presidential Advisory Commission stating evidence that Us troops blew up bunker containing CW at Tall Al Lahm is credible. Preparations for another UNSCOM inspection underway.
14 May 1996 -- UNSCOM reinspects Tall Al Lahm site. Concludes chemical munitions were present when US troops conducted demolition operations in March 1991. Allegedly, destroyed 122mm rockets with CW cannisters are present as well as evidence of US EOD activity.
18 June 1996 -- CIA informs DIA of NSC plan to make statement regarding Khamisiyah at Presidential Advisory Committee inquiry 6 July.
Comment: There are two centrl issues here. The question "If we had UNSCOM reporting in 1991 which suggested US troops blew up a bunker inside the KTO, why did we make the claim in 1994 that there were no forward deployment of chemical munitions into the KTO?" Answer: We had good reason not to give the UNSCOM report much credibility.
Second, if Iraqi chemical munitons were present at Khamisiyah in march 1991, is it possible some US personnel could have come into contact with chemical agents released y their destruction. US personnel, however, report having taken all precautions necessary to protect against chemical agent exposure. Team members reportedly wore MOPP gear while evaluating the complex with chemical detectors prior to EOD elements entering the bunkers. Chemical detectors were also in place to monitor the area during and after the detection itself.
- -- no discovery of CW south of Basra or in KTO
- -- no evidence of widespread use of CW
- -- no pattern of exposure to CW from US bombing campaign
- -- troops no exposed in widespread way
- -- no credible mechanism for large area exposure to low-level CW