News


Tracking Number:  169935

Title:  "How Iraq Built Its War Machine." Describes Iraq's acquisition of weapons, with emphasis on the contributions of world-renowned artillery expert Gerald Bull. From a background series on Iraq's military agenda. (910125)

Translated Title:  "La machine de guerre de l Irak: 20 ans de croissance." (910125)
Author:  HOLMES, NORMA (USIA STAFF WRITER)
Date:  19910125

Text:
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01/25/91 1Ne Re HOW IRAQ BUILT ITS WAR MACHINE (Background series: Iraq's military agenda) (970) By Norma S. Holmes USIA Staff writer

Washington -- For over two decades Iraq has systematically assembled a powerful war machine with conventional and unconventional weapons (chemical, biological and nuclear) and massive ground forces. This single-minded effort helped it emerge from its eight-year war with Iran with the most advanced array of strategic capabilities in the Arab world.

Secretary of State James Baker, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in December, 1990, said Iraq's President Saddam Hussein "has built the world's sixth largest army... the world's fifth largest tank army, and he has deployed ballistic missiles." And Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said in January, 1991, that the "U.S. now estimates Iraqi troops at 545,00 and tanks at 4,200."

In the mid-1970's, Iraq initiated nuclear and chemical/biological weapons programs and acquired attack systems such as the Soviet SCUD-B missile. Today, chemical weapons constitute a key element of Iraq's strategic weapons capability.

Iraq's chemical capability hinges on the effectiveness of its delivery systems. Saddam Hussein has made persistent and systematic efforts to acquire hardware, launch and delivery systems for warheads critical to this objective.

Aided by a sizeable purchases of foreign technology, primarily from Europe, Iraq has built a diverse inventory of ballistic missiles. Its major missile systems, the Al- Hussein and Al-Abbas are extended-range SCUD-B derivatives Iraq produced by upgrading Soviet-supplied missiles. Both the Al-Hussein and Al-Abbas offer long-range strike capabilities, and are thought to fire both conventional and chemical warheads.

"The chemical and biological weapons acquired by Iraq, and its impending nuclear war capability are part of a complicated story which began in 1974 and which has not yet been told correctly," writes a special correspondent for The Independent, a well known British daily newspaper.

"The decision to obtain these weapons was the brain child of a three-man committee formed in 1974 and headed by then

GE 2 SFF504 Vice-President Saddam Hussein," according to the account in the Independent. The Independent adds that Saddam Hussein is the only one of the three alive today.

According to The Independent, between 1974 and 1977, more than 4,000 scientists with expertise in atomic, chemical, biological and related sciences were recruited by Iraq from Morocco, Algeria, Syria, the United States, Britain, Canada, and Brazil to participate in an all-Arab military scientific effort.

Taking advantage of the 1979 fall of the Shah of Iran, Iraq sought seaport access to the Persian Gulf and demanded sovereignty over the waterway between Iran and Iraq, the Shatt-al Arab, and Iran's withdrawal from three disputed islands in the Gulf. Iraq attacked Iran in 1980 to reverse militarily what had been a diplomatic agreement.

Early in the war, the Iraqi government engaged world- renowned artillery expert Gerald V. Bull, whose lifetime obsession was a the construction of a "Supergun," a huge howitzer able to blast satellites into space or launch artillery shells thousands of miles into enemy territory. While he did not accomplish that dream, Bull did manage to design some of the most effective artillery pieces in the world.

A Canadian-born astro-physicist, Bull had earlier research contracts with with the United States Army, the Canadian Department of Defense and McGill University. He severed his association with the Pentagon in the 1970's and set up companies and agreements to sell improved versions of technology he developed to a number of foreign governments, including Iran, Chile, Taiwan and China, say former associates.

Working through his own Quebec firm, Space Research Corporation, and a Belgium subsidiary, European Poudreries Reunies de Belgique, Bull was able to produce his most formidable battlefield artillery piece, the GC-45 gun, known to fire a shell 25 miles with a throw weight twice that of guns used by Western armies.

"Shortly after the Iran-Iraq War began, the Iraqi government dispatched a private aircraft to Geneva...to take Mr. Bull to Baghdad," says Lawrence Surtees, correspondent for the Toronto Globe and Mail. So began a long association between Bull and the government of Iraq, and its then-defense minister, Saddam Hussein.

"Bull dealt with Iraq for almost 10 years -- six more than previous accounts have stated," says the Toronto journalist, citing an unpublished manuscript on Bull's life prepared by a close friend and colleague, Donald Mordell, the late dean of engineering at McGill University in Montreal.

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Iraq is but one of many states with guns developed by Bull. His clients are known to include his native Canada, the United States, South Africa, Iran, Chile, Taiwan, China, and Libya.

Most worrisome in Iraq's arsenal of guns developed by Gerald Bull from mid-1981 until his death in March 22, 1990, are its 300 155 millimeter howitzers, all versions of the GC-45 gun that Bull developed in the 1970's. Two hundred of these guns, termed GH-N-45 and manufactured in Austria, were shipped to Iraq via Jordan in 1985 for use in the Iran-Iraq war. The remaining 100 were manufactured in South Africa, where they are marketed under the name G-5. Military analysts say that the G-5 can deliver a tactical nuclear warhead, chemical shells or any NATO standard 155mm shell.

Also worrisome are Bull-modified missile warheads, which have increased the range of Iraq's Scud missiles.

Bull also designed two advanced self-propelled artillery systems for the Iraqis: the 210-millimeter Al Fao and the 155 millimeter Majnoon. The Al Fao, which weighs 48 tons, can fire four 109 kilogram rounds a minute for 35 miles from its 11-meter barrel. The Iraqis claim that the Al Fao and Majnoon can attain a top speed of 72-88 kilometers an hour on the road. NNNN


File Identification:  01/25/91, SF-504; 01/25/91, EU-512; 01/25/91, NE-507; 01/25/91, WF-U05; 01/29/91, AE-214; 01/30/91, AF-304
Product Name:  Wireless File; USINFO
Product Code:  WF; US
Languages:  French
Keywords:  IRAQ/Defense & Military; ARMS TRANSFERS; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; CHEMICAL & BIOLOGICAL WARFARE; MILITARY CAPABILITIES; MISSILES; IRAQ-USSR RELATIONS; BULL, GERALD
Thematic Codes:  160
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  169935; 170509