News


Tracking Number:  193695

Title:  "UN Team Confirms Iraq's Biological Arms Capability." Iraq had the capability to make vast quantities of the most virulent biological warfare agents at the one site visited by UN experts, says the inspection team's leader David Kelly. (910814)

Translated Title:  L`Irak peut fabriquer des armes biologiques.; Equipo ONU confirma potencial armas biologicas de Irak. (910814)
Author:  AITA, JUDY (USIA STAFF WRITER)
Date:  19910814

Text:
*PO304

08/14/91 HU.N. TEAM CONFIRMS IRAQ'S BIOLOGICAL ARMS CAPABILITY SH(Says Iraq was able to make "vast quantities") (560) BYBy Judy Aita BIUSIA United Nations Correspondent

TUnited Nations -- Iraq had the capability to make "vast quantities" of the most virulent biological warfare agents at the one site visited by U.N. experts, says the inspection team's leader David Kelly.

At a press conference at U.N. headquarters, Kelly said August 14 that while the team found no direct evidence of biological weapons, they found facilities which could have been used to research, produce and store biological warfare agents.

The team of 28 experts in microbiology and biotechnology, safety, medicine and communication were in Iraq August 3-7. They visited the Salman Pak site, 35 kilometers southeast of Baghdad and also held discussions with senior officials in the ministries of health and agriculture "to define a baseline for much of the biological research," Kelly said.

Iraq had originally told the United Nations that it did not possess biological weapons and that it had not carried out any related activities. However, Kelly said that when the team arrived, Iraq "made a verbal statement that it undertook biological research for military purposes at its Salman site" from 1986 to 1990. The verbal statement was later clarified in a written declaration.

"Only when we started our investigation did they admit that they had undertaken biological research for military purposes. Until that time it had been in secret," Kelly said.

"Iraq admitted having worked on two biological warfare agents -- anthrax and botulinum toxin," he said.

"At the site itself we discovered the capability to research, test, and store biological warfare agents," the chief inspector said. "The site had fermentation, production, testing, and storage facilities." The Iraqis said there were ten people on their research and development team.

Kelly said the U.N. team was unable to determine the total scope of Iraq's biological weapons capability at that site. But he said the presence of a 150-liter fermenter was evidence that Iraq was "capable of producing vast quantities of biological warfare agents and certainly provided the capability of having biological weapons."

On the third day of the inspection, the Iraqis admitted that the research was for offensive purposes and that no research was done for defensive capabilities or to develop vaccines, he said.

Kelly said the site had been extensively damaged by coalition bombing "and, in fact, the Iraqis had cleared certain key buildings from that site which hindered our inspection of that site."

Before the team left on August 7, Iraq handed over a collection of 30 samples of biological material which could be developed as warfare agents. The material included anthrax and botulinum as well as brucellosis and tularemia, which Kelly termed"two strong biological weapons agents."

The team had no opportunity to look at other sites, he said. "There are sites that I would have liked to have visited and I'm sure that on succeeding inspections they will be visited," he noted.

Asked about the degree of sophistication of Iraq's biological weapons program, Kelly said that when the fermenter was purchased in 1985, it was a sophisticated model.

"Biological weapons are intrinsically quite simple weapons," he explained. "You do not need sophisticated weapons to deliver them....The Iraqis chose the two strongest candidates...anthrax and botulinum." NNNN


File Identification:  08/14/91, PO-304; 08/14/91, AE-305; 08/14/91, AR-315; 08/14/91, EP-309; 08/14/91, EU-302; 08/14/91, NE-304; 08/14/91, NA-309; 08/15/91, AF-405; 08/15/91, AS-404
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  Arabic; French; Spanish
Keywords:  INSPECTIONS; ARMS CONTROL VERIFICATION; KELLY, DAVID; IRAQ/Defense & Military; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 1AC; 1UN
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  193695; 193804; 193743