For the January 20, 1991, bunker fire, we have contradictory information. Although the CIA believes the burn-damaged rounds inspected at the Fallujah Proving Ground were not damaged at Ukhaydir, they were likely at Ukhaydir during the bunker fire and an intense fire would have been required to cause the damage seen in those rounds. Although we have no direct evidence the bunker fire actually burned the rounds, we cannot eliminate it as a possibility. Therefore, our assessment of the possibility of a release on that day is indeterminate. However, even if a release occurred, the CIA modeling conducted in 1997 showed that very little mustard agent would have survived the fire and what was released would not have exceeded the general population limit beyond a 40 kilometer radius from Ukhaydir, well away from US troops located over 300 kilometers away along the Saudi Arabian border. Therefore, we assess it as unlikely that any US forces were exposed to mustard agent from the airstrike on January 20, 1991.
For the February 13/14, 1991, strike on the road, we also have contradictory information. Again, the rounds inspected at the Fallujah Proving Ground were likely at Ukhaydir during this airstrike and a stack of rounds was on the road when it was hit. Furthermore, based on the location of the crater, we know that if the Coalition bomb did not land on the stack of munitions, it landed very close to it, possibly destroying some of them. The source terms for both the CIA and DoD 1997 modeling of the strike on the road conservatively assumed a release from both the rounds UNSCOM had not accounted for at the time of the modeling and the 107 empty green rounds inspected at the Fallujah Proving Ground.
During its 1998 inspection of Ukhaydir, UNSCOM inspected 12 rounds unilaterally excavated by Iraq. Although this would appear to account for the missing rounds, Ukhaydir was not under UNSCOM control in the periods between inspections and Iraq excavated the rounds without UNSCOM supervision. Iraq also claimed to have found the rounds in an area previously inspected by UNSCOM. We cannot say Iraq placed the "discovered" rounds there between UNSCOMs 1997 and 1998 inspections, but we cannot categorically say Iraq did not. The CIA also based its revised assessment of a release on February 13/14th on the lack of munitions debris discovered by UNSCOM in 1998. However, because Ukhaydir was not under UNSCOM control between inspections, Iraq could have cleared the area of debris between 1997 and 1998.
The CIA also revised its assessment of whether the empty green rounds leaked after falling into the crater in the road because of the same lack of debris and because only 117 of all the rounds inspected were green. However, these rounds, like the others at the Fallujah Proving Ground, were likely at Ukhaydir during this strike. We have no way of determining the color of the rounds in the stack. It is at least possible these rounds were among those that fell into the crater. The CIA also speculated that it was possible the empty green rounds were empty because they had never been filled with agent. However, of the green rounds inspected, 10 were filled with agent. We have no way of knowing if those that were empty when inspected were previously filled with agent.
Without additional information to resolve these contradictions, we cannot determine if the February strike caused the release of any mustard agent. Therefore, until more conclusive information becomes available, our assessment of whether a mustard release occurred is indeterminate. However, even if a mustard release occurred, both CIA and DoDs 1997 modeling, using a very conservative estimate of the amount of chemical warfare agent possibly released, showed that the hazard areas would have been well away from the known locations of US forces over 300 kilometers away along the Saudi Arabian border. For this reason, our assessment of the likelihood of exposure as a result of any release at Ukhaydir is unlikely.
This case is still being investigated. As additional information becomes available it will be incorporated. If you have records, photographs, recollections, or find errors in the details reported, please contact my office at 1-800-497-6261.
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