UNSCOM - Report to the Security Council - 25 January 1999



1. The history of the Special Commission's work in Iraq has been plagued by coordinated efforts to thwart full discovery of Iraq's proscribed programmes. These policies and actions began immediately following the adoption of Security Council resolution 687 (1991). It is against this backdrop that the significant positive and negative results described in the weapons annexes should be seen. What follows is a brief summary of the Commission's current understanding of the evolution of these concealment policies and practices.

2. Immediately following the Gulf war, the Iraqi Presidency collected reports on weapons remaining with Iraq's Armed Forces after the war, including its weapons prohibited by recently adopted resolution 687(1991). Such documents were provided to the Presidency in the spring of 1991. A decision was taken by a high-level committee (one of whose members was Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tariq Aziz) to provide to the Commission only a portion of its proscribed weapons, their components and production capabilities and stocks. The policy, as deduced from a range of evidence available to the Commission including the initial false Iraq's declarations, was based on the following Iraqi actions:

-- provide a portion of their extant weapon stocks, with an emphasis on those, which were least modern.

-- retain production capability and the "know-how" documentation necessary to revive programmes when possible

-- conceal the full extent of chemical weapons programmes, including its VX project, and retain production equipment and raw materials

-- conceal the number and type of BW and CW warheads for proscribed missiles

-- conceal indigenous long-range missile production, and retain production capabilities, specifically with respect to guidance systems and missile engines

-- conceal the very existence of its offensive biological weapons programme and retain all production capabilities

3. Iraq had initial success in much of its concealment efforts, but, based, presumably, on early experience with the IAEA and the Special Commission in inspection activities, Iraq, took a subsequent decision in late June of 1991 to eliminate some of these retained proscribed materials, on its own, and in secret and in such a way that precise knowledge about what and how much had been destroyed would not be achievable. This decision and action by the high-level committee was a so-called "unilateral destruction". It was taken following an incident in June 1991 when IAEA inspectors, following an inspection that turned confrontational at Abu Ghraib, obtained photographic evidence of retained nuclear weapons production components.

4. Iraq did not admit to its illegal unilateral destruction until March 1992, approximately nine months after the destruction activities, and even then only after the Commission indicated it had evidence that Iraq retained weapons after its supervised destruction. Iraq states that "The unilateral destruction was carried out entirely unrecorded. No written and no visual records were kept, as it was not foreseen that Iraq needed to prove the destruction to anybody." Such an approach also indicates that Iraq intended to pursue a policy of concealment in its relations with the Commission and the IAEA.

5. In 1992, the Commission examined the evidence of the unilateral destruction available at that time and to some extent found it consistent with the rest of Iraq's programmes as then declared by Iraq. What was not recognized at the time by the Commission, was that the unilateral destruction action itself was a determined measure taken to conceal evidence which would reveal retained capabilities. Only later, when the investigations by the Commission became more searching and the Commission received reliable reports of diversions from the unilateral destruction, did it become clear that thorough verification of Iraq's claims surrounding unilateral destruction was required.

6. Iraq undertook active deception measures, during the Commission's verification of the unilateral destruction, such as "seeding" warhead destruction areas with parts unrelated to special warheads to lead the Commission's team to believe it had accounted for all that was claimed to exist. At that time, Iraq also melted down weapons and components to make impossible accurate identification or quantification of them. Because of Iraq's false declarations, the Commission was not in a position in 1992 to question, fully, Iraq's accounts. It was only later, after 1995, that the Commission became aware of the concerted deception efforts and was forced to reexamine the 1991-1992 period.

7. The Commission has conducted extensive examination of Iraq's claims concerning the period, July 1991, when Iraq stated that so much of its weapons programmes were secretly eliminated. The material balance and verification of Iraq's claims concerning the disposition of weapons in all areas (missiles, biological and chemical weapons) rests on accepting Iraq's declarations at face value. The Commission has conducted extensive excavation efforts with Iraq at places Iraq declared to have been the locations of explosive demolitions of proscribed weapons and burials of destroyed remnants. Extensive interviews with Iraqi participants in the unilateral destruction have also been conducted. Analysis of overhead imagery of that period has been made. The results have been mixed with some evidence supporting Iraqi declarations. Other data raises serious concerns about the true fate of proscribed weapons and items.

8. One example concerns the destruction of launchers. Iraq claimed until August 1997 (including in its missile FFCD) that proscribed missile launchers were destroyed in July 1991. When the Commission attempted to confirm this by examining imagery, it found such claimed destruction did not take place. Only then did Iraq shift its claim and say that the destruction did not take place until October of 1991. Thus, Iraq changed the account given repeatedly to the Commission, for six years, without any credible explanation as to why it had deliberately given a false declaration in the first place. Two obvious consequences for the Commission's investigations are: the need to explore the reason for such deceptions; and, to demand more information in order to be able to verify other Iraqi claims.

9. Other elements of the unilateral destruction presentation by Iraq were also proved to be false. The precise locations of warhead destruction and the fill of warheads have been revised several times by Iraq. The movements of concealed warheads prior to unilateral destruction, claimed by Iraq, have been proven to be false. The explanations provided on concealment and movement of retained chemical weapons production equipment was likewise shown to be false. Iraq's admissions have only been made during 1997-1998. The Commission still does not know the precise meaning or significance of Iraq's failure to provide accurate data about proscribed weapons activities and it's provision of false information.

10. One incident which has now been partially investigated illustrates another example of the Commission's concern about the possibility of retained prohibited material.

11. The Commission focussed a dedicated effort into investigating Iraq's concealment policy and actions following the events of August 1995, when Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamal left Iraq. This investigation proceeded through various stages and developed progressively more information on not only what had been hidden up until 1995, but what still remained concealed. One piece of this investigation involved a Major in the Special Republican Guard, Izzadine al-Majid. He was tasked by higher authorities in July 1991 to receive a shipment of production equipment and critical components related to Iraq's indigenous proscribed missile programmes which had been diverted from secret unilateral destruction. He was ordered to hide these materials on the premises of a private villa in the west Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib. The materials remained hidden at that location until March 1992 when the Special Republican Guard retrieved them to move them to another location. Iraq did not declare any of this information, the Commission learned it from Major Izzadine al-Majid and other participants in the operation.

12. Further investigation of this "diversion" from the unilateral destruction raised further questions, which remain unanswered. According to Iraq, some material now acknowledged to have been diverted from unilateral destruction came from a site called al Alam. Iraq stated that ten vehicles containing prohibited missile items were sent to this remote location in July 1991. The Commission examined imagery of this area during that time-frame and found not just ten vehicles, but that there had been over 100 vehicles present at this remote location. No explanation of the remaining 90 vehicles has been received from Iraq. Requests by the Commission for documents concerning this movement of vehicles either through Special Security checkpoints or vehicle movement logs have been rebuffed by Iraq with the claim that no documents are available. On the last occasion that this issue was discussed with senior Iraqi officials, in July 1998, Iraq conceded that for the preceding two years it had mislead the Commission concerning the events of the unilateral destruction of components for its indigenous missile engine programme.

13. This particular incident also showed that the Special Republican Guard had been involved. Other direct physical evidence of its involvement in the unilateral destruction activity is in the possession of the Commission. Iraq has minimized any involvement of the Special Republican Guard or security organizations.

14. With respect to the provision of documents to the Commission, Iraq has long claimed virtually all relevant documents had been destroyed. Again, following the departure from Iraq of Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamal and the subsequent provision of 150 crates of documents at the Haidar Chicken Farm, the Commission concluded that more exist. The Commission examined imagery of the Haidar farm and found that shortly before Iraq led the Commission to the farm to hand over the documents, several shipping containers had been removed from the site. Iraq has not provided a credible explanation of this. The documents provided from the farm have clearly defined gaps. For example, documents which would indicate WMD production techniques achieved by Iraq are not included. There are no documents related to the military or Ministry of Defense. The Commission has concluded that a segregation of documents must have taken place prior to delivery to the Commission. It has sought from Iraq further explanations of what happened to the documents and where they are located. This has never been provided.

15. One notable document received from Iraq in August 1995 should be mentioned. "The al-Atheer Center for the development of materials production: Report of achievements accomplished from 1 June 1990 to 7 June 1991" (called "the al-Atheer document"). It illustrates how this key facility for the development of nuclear weapon devices implemented the instructions of the high level committee in April 1991 on concealment action. The facility was instructed to remove evidence of the true activities at the facility, evacuate documents to hide sites, make physical alterations to the site to hide its true purpose, develop cover stories, and conduct mock inspections to prepare for UN inspectors. These types of actions are precisely what the Commission has encountered in its inspection activities throughout its work in Iraq. Iraq has claimed such deliberate concealment activities were ceased in 1995. However, Iraq has provided no documentation to substantiate these claims and the Commission continues to find evidence that the opposite is the case. Documents are found occasionally and reports from inside Iraq indicate continuing attempts to prevent the Commission from discovering documents or other materials.

16. The concealment investigation by the Commission, which has at times been contentious, has yielded a model of the decision making and organizations in Iraq which participate in actions to hide information and thwart the discovery of prohibited materials. The evidence collected included interviews with Iraqi personnel in and out of Iraq, documents found during inspection activity, imagery, analysis of vehicle movements and other Iraqi actions in reaction to Commission inspections, and overall patterns of obstructions, delays, and changing accounts, "stories", by Iraq.

17. In its first phase, the analysis of the Chicken Farm documents was carried out and the implications of the retained and sustained prohibited programmes were examined. The Commission concluded that multiple organizations in Iraq had to be involved. The concealment and deception activities had distinct technical requirements. This implied, inter alia, the continued involvement of the Military Industrial Commission (MIC). Iraq acknowledged this. However, covert procurement required an overseas presence and the establishment of front companies. These activities had been conducted by the General Intelligence Service, the Mukhabarat, during the 1980's and its expertise would continue to be valuable. Analysis of how procurement was conducted in the period immediately prior to the Gulf war was conducted as a possible indicator of how Iraq would continue such efforts to the present. This simple, logical analysis bore fruit. The Commission soon had direct evidence of Mukhabarat involvement when long range missile gyroscopes, accelerometers and test equipment were discovered being imported into Iraq in 1995.

18. The logistics of the movement of proscribed materials required communications and transportation support of a highly reliable and sensitive nature. In examining imagery from 1991, it was found that Special Republican Guard vehicles had been used to move equipment involved in planned nuclear weapons production when it was being hidden from the IAEA. In addition, the personnel involved had Special Republican Guard affiliations - like Major Izzadine mentioned earlier. Also, imagery taken during inspections in 1996 and 1997 showed significant vehicle movement at Special Republican Guard sites in reaction to ongoing inspection activities.

19. The Commission assessed that overall direction came from a more senior entity and that this appeared to be the Special Security Organization (SSO). In late 1995, the Commission was only beginning to gain an understanding of SSO direct control over concealment actions. One example was that during interviews with the manager of the Haidar farm it was learned that the farm had been seized by officers of the SSO some ten days before the Commission was given access to it.

20. This period of interviews and analysis led the Commission to investigate further the involvement of relevant security organizations in ongoing activities of a proscribed nature. The technique of interviewing participants in known concealment events proved useful even when interviewees were heavily coached. During the spring of 1996, continued interview and investigation missions were conducted in Iraq with the goal of eliciting a true picture of concealment actions and confirmation that it had or would be ended. In addition, acting on information developed during late 1995, the Commission conducted an inspection of sites related to concealment activities. This inspection was conducted in March 1996 and resulted in several refusals by Iraq to provide access to sites in accordance with its obligations.

21. Iraq did not acknowledge concealment as a legitimate matter for discussion with the Commission. Iraq stated that all concealment had been ended and only if the Commission could prove otherwise would Iraq discuss the matter. The Commission had ample evidence of concealment up to 1995 and in addition, uncovered clandestine proscribed missile guidance acquisition by Iraq in late 1995. Iraq claimed all such actions were terminated. The Commission had no evidence to support Iraq's claims, and, continued to receive reports to the contrary.

22. Given that Iraq would not willingly discuss the matter, the Commission planned another series of inspections of sites belonging to the organizations considered to have direct involvement in concealment. Two inspections took place in June and July 1996. There were lengthy standoffs. U-2 imagery taken during standoffs in June identified vehicle and other movements at SSO and Special Republican Guard facilities adjacent to Presidential areas that the Commission assessed as being related to concealment. The Executive Chairman had discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister on access issues and agreed on 22 June 1996 on a Joint Programme of Action which included the topic of concealment as a priority for verification work.

23. The Commission sent three additional investigation missions to Iraq during the remainder of 1996. Interviews were conducted and considerable discussion about the disposition of documentation took place. Little substantive progress was made. The Commission also continued to receive information about retained prohibited material in Iraq during this period. All information continued to support SSO/Special Republican Guard involvement.

24. In early 1997, the Commission again undertook an inspection of sites related to organizations identified with concealment actions. During these inspections, sites related to the hiding of proscribed material, transportation, and the organization of movements were inspected. In addition, sites were selected which were related to the procurement of material thought to be proscribed.

25. In June 1997, the Commission experienced delays and obstructions throughout the inspections including the removal of material from sites. The friction in conducting such inspections of sites is in some ways understandable given the sensitivity of such locations and organizations to Iraq. But, given the information about concealment practices and the absence of evidence about their termination, the Commission believed it had no choice but to continue. Ultimately, it was hoped that Iraq would provide a full and verifiable presentation on concealment. Inspections, while useful, would ultimately be blocked rather than permit discovery of prohibited materials. Nevertheless, evidence of non-compliance with the inspection regime was demonstrated in the form of non-cooperation. Missing files, cleansed rooms, purged computers and other techniques were encountered on a regular basis, at sites under inspection.

26. In August and September 1997, two inspections were conducted in an effort to uncover Iraq's efforts to deceive the Commission in the CW and BW areas. This reflected a decision to broaden the scope of the investigation aimed at thwarting Iraq's concealment efforts. During these inspections the same techniques of convoy movements occurred in direct reaction to the Commission's inspection activity. This provided still more evidence that concealment was ongoing.

27. In a further effort to continue to press Iraq to fully declare its programmes, the Commission reconfigured its concealment investigation work. Another mission went into Iraq in September 1997. Limited progress was made in obtaining Iraq's acknowledgment of Special Republican Guard and Mukhabarat involvement. At that time, another inspection obtained an SSO document related to dual-use biological activities and materials. A follow-on inspection was denied access to an SSO site in a presidential area.

28. In January 1998, an inspection to conduct a concealment investigation was sent to Iraq. It was stopped by Iraq after one day.

29. The Commission continued to press Iraq to provide full and verifiable explanations of its concealment activities. Iraq insisted that it was not concealing any proscribed weapons. The Commission found: significant gaps in every weapons area; and, that Iraq's active measures to deceive the Commission were responsible for its inability to verify the disposition of prohibited weapons. Reports that prohibited material still existed in Iraq continued to be received by the Commission. The Commission, following its presentation to the Council, established its list of priority disarmament issues and discussed these with Iraq during the Summer of 1998. The concealment issue was included in that list. Iraq declined to discuss the issue at that time.

30. In July 1998, an inspection sought to uncover information related to Iraq's production, storage, and disposal of chemical and biological weapons. Iraq had long denied that any documents on these topics were available. In the course of the team's inspection of Iraqi Air Force Headquarters inspectors located a document detailing the use of "special weapons" during the Iran - Iraq war. Immediately after its discovery, the document was seized from the Chief Inspector. Iraq has not responded to the demand, expressed by the Security Council, to return the document. Information in the document, recorded by team members, shows significant discrepancies between the amount of munitions Iraq claims to have consumed between 1983 and 1988, and the actual amount presented by Iraq in its official declarations.

31. By the end of the 1998, there remained significant uncertainties in the disposition of Iraq's prohibited programmes.

32. The Commission has received information recently from multiple sources, identifying organizations that direct and implement the concealment effort in Iraq. While the information from these sources differs in some minor details, it agrees on several major points:

The highest level of concealment-related decisions are made by a small committee of high ranking officials. The Presidential Secretary, Abed Hamid Mahmoud, chairs this committee;

The Committee directs the activities of a unit which is responsible for moving, hiding, and securing the items which are being concealed from the Commission;

The Special Security Organization plays a key role in the operation of this unit and in the tracking and surveillance of Commission activities.