|IMMEDIATE RELEASE||August 4, 1998||(703)697-5737(public/industry)|
The Department of Defense has determined it "unlikely" that chemical agents were released during the aerial bombardment or US occupation of the ASP at An Nasiriyah, Iraq. Although it is "likely" that mustard filled artillery rounds were present during the air campaign, that bunker was not struck. It also appears that any chemical weapons that may have been present during the air campaign had been removed prior to US occupation of the ASP.
During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Iraq's An Nasiriyah Southwest Ammunition Storage Point was a major Iraqi munitions depot. During the 1990-1991 time frame, the national Intelligence Community associated the storage of chemical or biological munitions with the types of bunkers found at An Nasiriyah: specifically, S-shaped and 12-frame bunkers. Five of these bunkers were struck by air delivered ordnance and, by February 3, 1991, had been either heavily damaged or destroyed. Today, the Intelligence Community believes that their pre-war assessments of which bunker types were used to store chemical or biological munitions were inaccurate, and that during Desert Storm, the bunkers at An Nasiriyah Southwest probably did not contain chemical or biological munitions.
However, another type of bunker at An Nasiriyah "likely" did contain mustard filled artillery rounds at the time of the aerial bombing. In 1996, in accordance with United Nations Resolution 687, Iraq declared that more than 6,000 155mm mustard-filled artillery rounds had been stored in bunker number 8 at this facility from approximately January 15, 1991, to February 15, 1991. Iraq stated they moved the rounds prior to US occupation.
Bunker 8 was searched by US ground forces during the cease-fire and destroyed by demolition charges prior to the withdrawal of US troops. Interviews with Explosive Ordinance Disposal experts, 9th Chemical Detachment technicians, the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade chemical officer and engineers involved in demolition operations at this ammunition storage point failed to uncover any evidence of the presence of either chemical or biological munitions. US troops at this installation conducted demolition operations for 5 weeks, from March 2 to April 7, 1991, without wearing chemical weapon protective gear, yet none reported or sought medical attention for symptoms of blister or nerve agent exposure.
Based on these interviews, the results of United Nations Special Commission inspections of this facility, Iraq's Chemical Weapon Full, Final, and Complete Disclosure, and a review of theater operational reports and national intelligence reporting, it is "Likely" that chemical weapons were present prior to the US occupation, and "Unlikely" that chemical or biological munitions, or bulk chemical agents were present in this complex during the US occupation.
The proximity of this ammunition storage point to Tallil Air Base, and the fact that many of the same units conducted similar operations at both installations, makes this investigation a continuation of Tallil's.
For more information on this or other Gulf War illnesses issues, see GulfLINK, an interactive Internet side, at http://www/gulflink.osd.mil.