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UNSCOM and Iraqi Missiles

UN Security Council Resolution 687, the cease-fire agreement ending the Kuwait war, has effectively eliminated whatever remained of the Iraqi ballistic missile capability after the extensive bombing during the war. Under the terms of the cease-fire, all missiles with a range over 150 km as well as all R&D, support and manufacturing facilities, are to be dismantled, and Iraq is prohibited from using, developing, constructing or otherwise acquiring ballistic missiles over that range in the future. After the Gulf War, the 61 missiles that Iraq had acknowledged remained in its arsenal were destroyed; the head of the UN mission in charge of the task said that the UN had no evidence indicating that the Iraqis possess any other missiles. However, to alleviate any lingering doubts, the Special UN Commission is mandated by Res. 687 to develop a long-term plan for the ongoing monitoring and verification to ensure Iraqi compliance with its terms.

Since the end of the Gulf War, UN inspection teams worked to find evidence that Iraq has hidden a residual Scud force of 100-200 missiles and 12-20 launchers. In March 1993, Rolf Ekeus, chairman of the U.N. Commission charged with eliminating Iraq's weapons that are in violation of Resolution 687, said that inspectors were unable to account for 200 of Iraq's 800 Scuds. As time past without discovering this putative residual force, the question turned to how quickly these hidden Scuds could be brought to a state of military readiness. The East German army considered that if kept in the maufacturers containers with partial guidance systems installed the Scud could be assembled after 20 years of storage and be ready for fuelling in about 95 minutes. Consequently, the US was concerned that if UN sanctions were lifted before there was high confidence that all Scuds and other potential WMD are eliminated, Iraq could quickly renew its threat to the Gulf region and in a few years regain its missile development and production capacity. A similar concern pertained to Iraq's residual nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs that may be eluding UN Inspectors.

Earlier ambiguity concerning Iraq's residual missile inventory has been largely resolved, though UNSCOM maintains that Iraq is still concealing six to sixteen enhanced Scud missiles, potentially able to deliver chemical or biological warheads. These Al Hussein missiles have eluded UNSCOM inspectors, along with as many as 20 long-range missile warheads produced before 1991 specifically to carry biological weapons. Iraqi is also known to have biological gravity bombs and tons of VX nerve gas. By 1996 UNSCOM concluded that Iraq had produced 80 Scud-like missiles indigenously -- thereby placing in doubt UNSCOM's initial overall count of Iraq's original missile inventories. UNSCOM teams visiting in 1996 have been unable to locate hidden missiles but UNSCOM has been investigating Iraq's methods of concealment.

The UNSCOM Process

The Security Council required Iraq to unconditionally accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers and related major parts, and repair and production facilities (para. 8 (b) of resolution 687 (1991)). Iraq is further required to agree to urgent, on-site inspection by the Special Commission of its missile capabilities, based on Iraq's declarations and the designation of any additional locations by the Special Commission itself (para. 9 (b) (i) of resolution 687 (1991)). Other acts required of Iraq include the destruction by Iraq, under supervision of the Special Commission, of all its missile capabilities, including launchers (para. 9 (b) (ii) of resolution 687 (1991)).

To verify Iraq's compliance with these undertakings, in resolution 687 (1991) the Security Council requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Special Commission, to develop the plan for future monitoring and verification, which was approved by the Council in its resolution 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991. In paragraph 7 of resolution 715 (1991) the Council called for the development of a mechanism for monitoring any future sales or supplies by other countries to Iraq of items relevant to the implementation of section C of resolution 687 (1991). The mechanism was approved by the Council in resolution 1051 (1996) of 27 March 1996. The missile monitoring group at the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center consists of six resident inspectors from five States. The number of items subject to monitoring and the number of sites has remained largely static in the missile area. The group monitors 63 sites and 159 tagged items of equipment [up from 143 in 1997]. Over 2,000 operational missiles have been tagged to ensure that they are not modified for proscribed purposes. [S/1998/920]

Prior to mid-August 1995 Iraq specifically denied the existence of any biological warheads, test activity with chemical warheads, any work on advanced liquid propellant missile systems, using new materials for missile airframes (like aluminium), and missile fuels (like UDMH). In August 1995 Iraq disclosed substantial new information related to its proscribed missile program. Iraq acknowledged for the first time work on advanced rocket engines, including those with increased thrust or using UDMH fuel. Iraq also admitted to the production of proscribed rocket engines made of indigenously produced or imported parts and without cannibalization of the imported Soviet-made Scud engines. Iraq further admitted that the number and the purpose of static and flight tests of proscribed missiles had previously been misrepresented. [S/1995/864]

At the end of September 1995 UNSCOM obtained new information on Iraq's testing activity, including both static and flight testing of Scud variant missile systems; several new designs of longer-range missile systems; development and testing of new liquid propellant engine designs; development and successful testing of a warhead separation system; an indigenous design of a 600 mm diameter supergun system; and three separate flight tests of chemical warheads. Some of the previously undisclosed designs included missiles that could reach targets at ranges of up to 3,000 kilometers. The Commission also obtained information of a special missile under design for delivery of a nuclear explosive device. [S/1995/864]

Following its admissions since August 1995, Iraq submitted a declaration containing its full, final and complete disclosure [FFCD] in the missile area in November 1995, stating that the document was a final version of its disclosures and that no substantive additions or corrections would be made to it. It comprised more than 2,500 pages, together with a substantial amount of supporting documentation. Iraq's accounting in the November 1995 FFCD did not appear to constitute a firm basis for establishing a definite and verifiable material balance for proscribed weapons and activities. On 27 February, Iraq submitted a document entitled "Draft full, final and complete declaration of the Iraqi national ballistic missile programme". It incorporated significant new information. Iraq provided another draft FFCD in May 1996. Several hundred pages of new documentation were made available to UNSCOM. Iraq decided to provide an official FFCD in the missile area. That document, submitted in July 1996, contained only minor changes to the May 1996 draft. [S/1996/848]

The core of Iraq's proscribed missile force was 819 long-range operational missiles that Iraq imported from the Soviet Union in the period ending in 1988. In addition, Iraq had successfully produced and tested similar missiles of its own. As a result of its inspections, investigations and analysis over six years, by 1997 UNSCOM was able to account for 817 of the 819 imported missiles [S/1997/774].

Pre-1980 expenditures, such as in training 8
Expenditures during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988),
including during the War of the Cities in February-April 1988
Testing activities for development of Iraq's modifications of imported missiles
and other experimental activities (1985-1990)
Expenditures during the Gulf War (January-March 1991) 93
Destruction under supervision of UNSCOM (early July 1991) 48
Unilateral destruction by Iraq (mid-July and October 1991) 83
Note. Sources of accounting for each of the missiles vary. In most cases, accounting has been provided through Iraqi documentation. In some cases, multiple sources have provided corroborative accounting. In the case of unilateral destruction, accounting has been provided, for example, by reference to a key numbered component of an engine.

As a result of its initial declarations in April/May 1991, UNSCOM supervised the destruction of its declared 48 operational missiles, 14 conventional warheads, 6 operational mobile launchers and other support equipment and materials in early July 1991. The destruction of the initially declared proscribed missile production tools, equipment and some facilities was carried out by April 1992. The destruction of the initially declared 30 missile chemical warheads was completed in April 1993. Through the Commission's inspection efforts, a number of undisclosed proscribed weapons, equipment and items retained by Iraq were also uncovered. In March 1992, Iraq disclosed that it had concealed from the Commission the greater part of its operational missile force (85 operational missiles, over 130 warheads, both conventional and chemical, 8 operational mobile launchers and missile force support equipment) and a significant amount of other proscribed items and materials. These were alleged to have been unilaterally and secretly destroyed in late July 1991, without allowing the Commission to supervise the destruction, as required by resolution 687 (1991). Since March 1992, the Commission has been able to verify a number of these weapons and items as destroyed. [S/1996/848]

Following the successful development of the Al Hussein from imported SCUD missiles, Iraq undertook to indigenously produce these missiles. Iraq procured, through importation, the necessary components, production equipment and tooling. In early 1990, Iraq established a production goal of 200 missiles. Iraq intended to eventually produce 1000 missiles. By late 1990 Iraq had the capability to indigenously manufacture a limited number of these missiles. One Iraqi document records that the Army had possessed seven Iraqi manufactured Al Hussein missiles, though Iraq claims that they were training missiles. Although thousands of pieces of unilaterally destroyed imported missiles had been recovered, no component from these Iraqi manufactured missiles were found [UNSCOM 03 June 98]. The issue of seven indigenously produced missiles that were in the possession of Iraq's missile force in 1991 remained unresolved as of October 1998. Iraq maintains that they were training missiles and that they were unilaterally destroyed in 1991. [S/1998/920]

Propulsion Systems

By the end of 1990, Iraq had the capability to assemble a limited number of engines for its indigenously produced proscribed missiles [S/1998/920]. According to Iraq, some 80 major subsystems of SCUD-type engines had been produced. Fifty-three had been rejected as unfit. Seventeen had been disposed of in testing. Iraq claims to have unilaterally destroyed the remaining 10. [S/1995/1038]

Iraq has declared that it conducted 12 static tests and four flight tests of indigenously produced engines. Several of these tests were successful.[UNSCOM 03 June 98] Iraq had originally denied any major efforts in manufacturing liquid-propellant missile engines. In March 1992, Iraq declared that most of the relevant items for engine production had been unilaterally destroyed by Iraq in the summer of 1991. It identified the main site for such destruction as being at Al Alam, near Tikrit. Until August 1995, Iraq concealed the fact that Project 1728 had produced engines and carried out some 20 static and flight tests with these engines.[S/1997/774] The majority of production tools and components from Project 1728, specifically established for the production of proscribed missile engines, and some missiles had been diverted by Iraq from destruction in July 1991. In an official letter to the Commission dated 3 October 1996, Iraq admitted that all its major missile establishments had, in July 1991, been ordered to load important tools, dies and parts of key priority on eleven trucks which were turned over to two unidentified officers said to be relatives of Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel. Iraq stated that in March 1992 these materials had been unearthed at a site where they had been hidden, and destroyed. [S/1996/848] On 24 September 1997, Iraq declared that the Al Alam site had been secretly excavated by Iraq in April-May 1992 without the Commission's supervision. According to this new declaration, the majority of components had been removed from the site and melted at foundries, in an effort to conceal from the Commission the extent of Iraq's missile engine production accomplishments. [S/1997/774]

Following Iraq's declaration of the unilateral destruction in 1992, Iraq secretly recovered destroyed components from burial sites and sent them for melting in foundries or disposal in rivers. UNSCOM attempted to verify Iraq's declarations of the unilateral destruction of components for its engine program at a site near Tikrit called Al Alam. Of an estimated 100 tons of material declared to be destroyed at this site, only 12 tons could be accounted for. In March 1992 UNSCOM attempted to locate all of the ingots of materials which should have been the result of five different melting events related to the unilateral destruction. Of an estimated 200 tons of material, only 50 tons could be verified. Iraq then stated that some of the proscribed material had been diverted for disposal in rivers and canals. To date UNSCOM has been unable to verify this declaration. [UNSCOM 03 June 98]


SCUD missiles use two main propellants: TMI85 and AK271. These are SCUD specific components not dual purpose items. Iraq has never admitted that it had manufactured these propellants, nor that it had retained them for non-proscribed missile activities or for use in its civilian industry. Iraq declared in 1991-1992 that the propellant tanks at the destruction site were empty. Then during discussions of the propellant material balance, it changed its declaration to the effect that nearly half of them had been full of propellants. Iraq has not provided the inventory document on the declared destruction of propellants. Iraq's declaration of propellants unilateral destruction is unsubstantiated. [UNSCOM 03 June 98]

Unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) is a liquid fuel which can improve the performance of liquid-propellant rocket engines. In 1987, Iraq began inquiring about and procuring facilities, equipment, training and materials concerning every aspect of the use and production of UDMH and related systems in missiles. The program continued until January 1991. Iraq declared that it had unilaterally destroyed 10.5 tons of UDMH in May 1991. As of 1995 UNSCOM was unable to verify this. Further, Iraq declared that no experiments were performed using UDMH. The Commission has information which contradicts this statement. If Iraq mastered the technologies required for UDMH rocket engine design, the Commission would need to modify the ongoing monitoring and verification regime in the missile area to take account of Iraq's access to these technologies. [S/1995/284]

Guidance Systems

By the end of 1990,Iraq did not have the capability to manufacture either indigenously, or to assemble from foreign components, gyroscopes for its indigenous missiles [S/1998/920]. Iraq had contracts for the foreign procurement of gyroscopes. It also retained some original imported gyroscopes until the last quarter of 1995. The gyroscope components were destroyed by disposal in rivers or canals. A full accounting of these gyroscope components has never been provided [UNSCOM 03 June 98]. In October 1995, Iraq admitted that in late 1993 an order had been issued to one of its missile facilities to start work on prohibited gyro- instruments. At that time Iraq handed over to UNSCOM 18 gyro-instruments for proscribed missiles, without offering a satisfactory explanation for their continuous holding up to that time. [S/1995/1038] UNSCOM collected firm evidence that Iraq had been receiving proscribed Scud missile gyroscope components up to the autumn of 1991. This was admitted in December 1994. In a separate instance, a partial shipment of proscribed advanced missile gyroscopes was intercepted en route to Iraq in 1995. A supplier and the procurement network were also identified. After the initial denial of its involvement in the acquisition of these components, Iraq acknowledged the receipt of some of the items and claimed their unilateral destruction. [S/1996/848] Iraq continued covert efforts in 1993 and 1994 to reverse engineer SCUD-type missile-guidance gyroscopes, using personnel and facilities monitored by the UN Special Commission. The program incorporated covert procurement activities undeclared to the Commission, and the use of retained gyroscopes and material of a proscribed nature.[UNSCOM 03 June 98] In June 1998 Iraq reiterated its position that accounting fully for such components was unnecessary. UNSCOM countered that such accounting was necessary due to the significant uncertainty surrounding that program, including the lack of physical and verifiable evidence of the destruction of the components. [S/1998/529]

UNSCOM expressed great concern over the 1995 delivery to Iraq of a large number of sophisticated missile guidance and control components. It was assessed that such components are used in missiles with ranges over thousands of kilometers. The Commission initiated an investigation into that matter and dispatched a special team (UNSCOM 120) to Iraq in January 1996. In December 1995, the Government of Iraq had denied publicly that Iraq had acquired such items or contracted for them. It was established that some missile guidance and control components had been delivered to Iraq in July 1995 while others together with testing equipment had been stored in transit in a free port in Jordan waiting for shipment to Iraq. An individual in Iraq (the Director-General of a major missile establishment) alleged to be responsible for this acquisition, stated that he had destroyed, in August 1995, all guidance and control components received. [S/1996/258]


Iraq modified originally imported warheads as well as has indigenously produced some. The indigenously produced warheads that were delivered to the Army were mainly for the delivery of chemical or biological agents. Iraq's Full Final Complete Declaration does not provide solid evidence for the verification of the declared total warhead production, its nature and its timing. [UNSCOM 03 June 98] Iraq states that a flight test of an indigenously produced Scud warhead, filled with a chemical agent simulant, was conducted in 1985. It stated that the reason for the test was to determine if it were possible for another country to threaten Iraq by such a means. It claimed to have learned from the test that this was possible. It then claimed further that it did no further work in response to this discovery and did not restart its special warhead development until five years later, in 1990. Iraq claimed that it then designed, developed, produced and began filling special warheads in less than three months. Two such warheads were flight-tested. As of October 1997 Iraq maintained that 80 special warheads for Al Hussein missiles were produced in total, namely, 50 for chemical, 25 for biological and 5 for trials of CW. Special warheads for the Al Hussein missiles were filled with both chemical and biological agents prior to the Gulf War. As of October 1997 UNSCOM was able to verify that 16 warheads were filled with sarin and 34 with chemical warfare binary components. The Commission has confirmed the destruction of 30 chemical warheads under its supervision (16 filled with sarin and 14 with binary components). It was also able to confirm, in part, the unilateral destruction by Iraq of a portion of the 45 other special warheads. [S/1997/774] As of October 1998 UNSCOM was able to account for the destruction of between 43 to 45 of the 45 operational special warheads declared by Iraq as having been unilaterally destroyed in 1991. [S/1998/920] Iraq and UNSCOM accounted for most of the proscribed missile warheads as of October 1998. However, remnants of some 30 indigenously produced conventional warheads, which Iraq declared as unilaterally destroyed, have not yet been found [S/1998/920].

Missile Engine Test Stands

On 6 June 1993, the Commission informed Iraq of its intention to install remote-controlled camera systems at two missile engine test stands, Al-Yawm Al-Azim and Al-Rafah. The purpose of this inspection effort was to verify that no prohibited activities were taking place at these test stands. The Government of Iraq informed the Commission that it had agreed to the activation of the camera systems at Al-Rafah and Al-Yawm Al-Azim. On 25 September 1993, the cameras were activated. Since then they have been operating on a continuous basis. The cameras are arranged in a manner that enables UNSCOM to assess whether a test was of a prohibited missile, engine or motor. In accordance with operating procedures established by the Commission, these camera systems provide 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week coverage of the missile test stands at Al-Rafah and Al-Yawm Al-Azim. Missile test monitoring handbooks, to include engineering baselines for the test sites, checklists and reporting forms for the Iraqis, were developed. An upgrade of the camera systems, to include radio links and improved lenses, was undertaken from 2 to 10 December 1993. [S26910]

Mobile Missile Launchers

In 1991, Iraq declared that, prior to the Gulf War, it had 14 operational mobile missile launchers, including 10 that had been imported. In addition, it constructed or was in the process of constructing 60 fixed launch sites for these missiles. Prior to March 1992, Iraq claimed that several launchers had been destroyed during the Iran-Iraq war. Then, in March 1992, it declared to the Commission that those launchers had, in fact, been unilaterally destroyed by Iraq in the summer of 1991. Iraq made a new statement in August 1997 that four launcher chassis had in fact been destroyed in October 1991, and not in July 1991, as had previously been declared. Remnants of the 10 imported launcher chassis, with their launch arms, and remnants of 4 indigenously produced launchers were identified by the Commission through inspection activities in August and September 1997. [S/1997/774]

High-Precision Instrumentation Radar

A high-precision instrumentation radar was imported for proscribed ballistic missile programmes and was used as part of the testing of proscribed missiles. Iraq denied this outright and has presented numerous different and conflicting explanations of the use and purpose of this radar. UNSCOM's investigations into and judgements on this matter relied on information obtained from a variety of different sources. From Iraq's own declarations, the radar was used around the time of two Al Abbas missile launches on 28 December 1990. Iraq subsequently acknowledged that the radar was installed at the testing site in Basrah on 26 December 1990, that adjustment and initial operations began on 27 December 1990, that testing activity and adjustment continued on 28 December 1990, and that the radar was disassembled and packaged on 29 December 1990. Iraq further acknowledged that the radar was operating and the radar dish was pointed in the direction of the missiles during the two test launches. UNSCOM concluded that the radar was involved in the tracking of proscribed missile systems on 28 December 1990. Consequently, the radar was an item which is proscribed under paragraph 8 of Security Council resolution 687 (1991). The radar and associated equipment had to be disposed of in accordance with that paragraph. On 14 December 1994, the Commission informed Iraq by letter of its decision that the radar must be destroyed. [S/1994/1422]

Sources and Resources

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Updated Monday, November 02, 1998 9:36:21 AM

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