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Technical and Scientific Materials Import Division (TSMID)

The Technical and Scientific Materials Import Division (TSMID) was Iraq's main procurement agency for the biological weapons program.

Iraq acknowledged that it procured, through the Technical and Scientific Materials Import Division, very large quantities of complex growth media in 1988 but failed to provide an accounting for the purposes of this importation and for the use of a significant portion of it. Iraq claimed that, while the media was imported by TSMID, the import was on behalf of the Ministry of Health for the purposes of hospital diagnostic laboratories. This importation of media by types, quantities and packaging is grossly out of proportion to Iraq's stated requirements for hospital use. Iraq explained the excessive quantities imported and the inappropriate size of the packaging as being a one-of-a-kind mistake and attempted to justify the import as appropriate and required for medical diagnostic purposes. However, for hospital diagnostic purposes, only small quantities are needed. According to Iraq's declarations, which were imprecise and changing, over the period 1987-1994 Iraq's total hospital consumption of all such media was less than 200 kg per annum. But in 1988 alone, TSMID imported nearly 39,000 kg of such media, which has a manufacturer's guarantee of 4 to 5 years. A further incongruity was that, of all the types of media required for hospital use, only a select few were "mistakenly" imported by TSMID in large quantities. These did not include those most frequently used in hospitals. Furthermore, the packaging of TSMID imports was inconsistent with declared hospital usage: diagnostic assays use very small quantities of media and so, because the media deteriorates rapidly once a package has been opened, media for diagnostic purposes is normally distributed in 0.1-1 kg packages. However, the media imported by Iraq in 1988 was packaged in 25-100 kg drums. This style of packaging is consistent with the large-scale usage of media associated with the production of biological agents. The types of media imported are suitable for the production of anthrax and botulinum, known biological warfare agents researched by Iraq in its declared biological military program. [S/1995/284]

Iraq acknowledged the purchase by TSMID in 1989 of four filling machines, ostensibly for a biopesticide project at the Salman Pak site. Until this acknowledgement, Iraq, while declaring Salman Pak to be the site of its biological military research programme, had not declared any biopesticide activity there. Filling machines, while having many uses, are required for filling bacterial warfare agent into munitions or containers. TSMID procured a spray dryer in 1989. Again, it was claimed that this was for the above-mentioned biopesticide project at Salman Pak. This spray dryer has technical specifications which provide a capability of drying the bacterial slurry resulting from the fermentation process to produce dry matter with particle sizes in the range of 1 to 10 m. This particle size is associated with efficient dispersion of biological warfare agents, not with the production of biopesticides. Furthermore, dry bacterial matter is easier to store for longer periods. Such spray dryers, therefore, would be a crucial component in acquiring an indigenous capability to produce viable and durable biological weapons. TSMID attempted to order various named and virulent anthrax strains, known to be particularly appropriate for biological warfare purposes. Iraq flatly denied this, despite confirmation to the Commission by the potential supplier. [S/1995/284]

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