Chemical and Biological Warfare in DESERT STORM? (U)


April 1994

SUBJECT: Chemical and Biological Warfare in DESERT 
Key Judgments

(U) Responding to recent publicity regarding the many 
unexplained medical problems suffered by Gulf War veterans, 
DIA assesses that exposure to chemical or biological agents is 
not the cause of "Gulf War Syndrome."

[    b.2.    ]


(U) Many veterans returned from Gulf War deployments reporting medical 
problems that collectively have come to be known as "Gulf War Syndrome" or 
"mystery illness."  Symptoms range from fatigue, joint pain, and memory 
loss to bleeding gums, rashes, and lymphoma.  Recently, these cases 
received a great deal of publicity from Congress and the media.  Based 
largely on misinformation and misunderstanding, exposure to chemical or 
biological agents was speculated to be the cause of the mystery illness.  
This report details the basis for DIA's assessment that no chemical or 
biological weapons were used during DESERT STORM/SHIELD and, therefore, 
are not the cause of the Gulf War mystery illness.


There were no indications and warnings (I&W) of imminent chemical warfare 
use during DESERT/SHIELD/STORM.  During its war with Iran, the Iraqis 
moved chemical munitions from production and filling facilities in Samarra 
to an intermediate storage bunker in southern Iraq - at Tallil Airfield - 
and finally to the battlefield, where it was used against the Iranians.  
This activity was accomplished within roughly 2-3 weeks and, therefore, [ 
     (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)    ].  The Iraqis operated in this way to 
overcome a short shelf life problem - because of low agent purity levels - 
they had with their nerve agent.  This [      (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)    ] 
use of chemical warfare did not occur during the Gulf War.


[   (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)   ] POWs unanimously stated that, in their 
opinion, there was no intent to use chemical and biological warfare (CBW) 
against the Coalition. Their reasoning included the fear of massive 
retaliation, possibly with nuclear weapons, and the belief that the 
Coalition was far better prepared than Iraq to fight in a CBW environment.

(U) Immediately after the war, a massive effort to collect and destroy
remaining Iraqi equipment throughout Kuwait and occupied Iraq began. Not 
one chemical or biological munition, nor any bulk agent, has been found in 
occupied Iraq or Kuwait.  Moreover, the primary U.S. contractor for 
unexploded ordnance  stated recently that, to date, the company had 
discovered and removed over 15,000 tons of all types of 
ordnance--including 350,000 mines--and has found no CBW weapons. Nor have 
any of its employees experienced Gulf War syndrome symptoms.

(U) During the entire Persian Gulf crisis, not one person, military or 
civilian, was treated, hospitalized, or died as a result of CBW exposure. 
If CBW had been used, even on a limited basis, this most certainly
would not have been the case. An Army private who received the Bronze Star 
and Purple Heart after experiencing burns while searching bunkers is the 
only known injury with symptoms similar to CBW exposure. Advanced 
laboratory analysis of his flak jacket, shirt, and the swab used to clean 
his wound, as well as subsequent urinalysis, indicate conclusively, 
however, that the burns did not result from contact with chemical agent 
but from some other corrosive substance.

(U) There were no confirmed chemical or biological agents detected during 
the entire crisis. Standard operating procedure to determine the presence 
of chemical weapons requires a two-step process--detection and
confirmation. Automatic detectors alert troops by sounding alarms. Because 
the equipment is very sensitive by design, false alarms are often 
registered. A conservative estimate of the number of false alarms
during the Gulf War crisis would number in the hundreds, if not thousands. 
Despite this large number of supposed detections, the second step, 
confirmation, using equipment and techniques available at the 
platoon level, never resulted in a single confirmation.  Only the highly 
publicized Czechoslovak reports of chemical agent detection on 19 and 24 
January, 1991 appear credible.  The U.S. Department of Defense cannot 
independently verify the Czechoslovak detections, but does accept the 
Czechoslovak report as valid based on recent assessments of Czechoslovak 
technical competence and sensitivity of equipment.  At the time, the 
Czechoslovaks reported extremely low, unharmful levels of agent in very 
localized areas near Hafar Al Batin and King Khalid Military City.  
According to the Czechoslovaks, the nerve agent detected on 19 January was 
present for less than 40 minutes.  Somewhat suspiciously, no other units 
in the area detected nerve agent.


(U) In addition to all the unconfirmed detections registered as false 
alarms, a variety of soil, liquid, and air samples suspected of containing 
chemical agents were analyzed at state-of-the-art labs in the United 
States and United Kingdom. These samples were taken before, during, and 
after the war from suspected "hot" areas in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and 
Iraq. The results from all samples tested were negative. Likewise, air 
samples checking for the presence of biological agents were continuously 
taken and analyzed at state-of-the-art labs. As with the chemical agent 
samples, all tests for biological agents were negative.

(U) A popular theory suggests the cause of the mystery illness to be long-
term exposure of U.S. troops to low (undetectable) levels of chemical 
agent. This, however, is impossible. The law of diffusion states
that any gas or liquid naturally moves from an area of greater 
concentration to one of lesser concentration.  Consequently, if in one 
area or time the concentration of chemical agent is low--as in the 
Czechoslovak detection--at some other area or time, the concentration must 
have been high. Therefore, other detections would be expected nearby, 
possibly resulting in casualties. This did not happen, even though other 
units were in contiguous areas. More to the point, the only possible 
explanation for long-term, low-level exposure below detection range is the 
deliberate, continuous release of very small amounts of agent throughout 
the area where troops are to be exposed. This scenario would contaminate 
much of the Saudi Arabian peninsula rather than localize effects. Had this 
been the case, the mystery illness would have been reported by veterans 
stationed throughout Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabian civilians would have 
experienced and reported symptoms. The facts simply do not support this 

Although it is another popular theory, the Czechoslovak detection did not 
result from chemical agents released from bombed Iraqi targets. Under 
ideal ditions, models indicate that 80 tons of nerve agents would need to 
be instantaneously released from the closest bombed CBW target (An 
Nasiriyah, 140 miles north of Hafar Al Batln) to register at the low 
levels detected by the Czechoslovaks. An 80-ton release of nerve agent in 
Iraq would have resulted in an area of certain death or casualty that 
covers hundreds of square miles.  Detection equipment throughout the area 
would have been triggered, and additional confirmations would have been 
expected - neither happened.  In addition to the law of diffusion, weather 
conditions further argue against this possibility.  The winds at the time 
were in the wrong direction - from the southeast - and it rained 
throughout the region the day before the Czechoslovak detection.  Even a 
release caused by a bomb from Coalition aircraft striking a secondary 
target (perhaps an unknown CW storage site or convoy near the border) must 
still obey the law of diffusion.  People nearby would die or become 
casualties, detection alarms would sound, and confirmations would be made. 
 As stated before, this simply did not happen. 



Ironically, the real intelligence mystery of this story (if the 
Czechoslovak detections are accepted as valid) is the source of the agent 
detected.  The low concentration and short duration of the detection, the 
extremely localized area affected the meteorological conditions, the
absence of other detectlons 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 deliberate single release of a very small amount of 
agent.  At this juncture, the best explanation of the agent's presence is 
a possible live-agent test of the Czechoslovak equipment conducted by the 
Saudis, who were paying the Czechs to provide them chemical weapon 
detection support.  There is not enough evidence to prove this, however, 
and DIA is unlikely, [      (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)    ], to acquire any 
additional information.  Only [   (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4)   ] is likely to 
provide information that would allow progress beyond pure speculation in 
trying to explain the Czech detections.  


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