A new report by the CIA estimates Iraq continued to produce mobile biological weapons laboratories until the eve of
the war with the United States.
An intelligence report released on Wednesday said an examination of two
trailers deemed mobile BW laboratories determined that the facilities were
built over the last few months. The report said this suggests that the
regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein might have been producing BW
facilities during the early part of 2003.
Two trailers believed to have been BW laboratories were discovered over
the last month. One was found by Kurdish forces near Kirkuk and the other by
the U.S. Army earlier this month near Mosul, Middle East Newsline reported.
The report by the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency said the
trailers were believed to be second- or third-generation designs of the
plants described by an Iraqi source. The source, one of several people who
over the last three years reported on Iraq's WMD programs, said that in 1995
Iraq launched a program to design and build seven sets of mobile BW labs.
Six were to be installed in semi-trailers and the seventh in a railroad car.
"The newer version includes system improvements, such as cooling units,
apparently engineered to solve production problems described by the source
that were encountered with the older design," the report said. "The
manufacturer's plates on the fermenters list production dates of 2002 and
2003 Ñ suggesting Iraq continued to produce these units as late as this
Iraq's mobile BW program was said to have begun in the mid-1990s. The
report said Iraq manufactured mobile trailers and railcars to produce
biological agents as part of an effort to conceal the weapons of mass
destruction program from United Nations weapons inspectors.
"Agent production reportedly occurred Thursday night through Friday when
the UN did not conduct inspections in observance of the Muslim holy day,"
the report said. "An accident occurred in 1998 during a production run Ñ
which killed 12 technicians Ñ an indication that Iraq was producing a BW
agent at that time."
The report, which dismissed the prospect that the mobile units were
required for the production of pesticides, said that in 1997 Iraq was
already producing BW agents from mobile labs. In 1998, a smaller truck was
used for the labs.
The semi-trailers found over the last month contained a fermentor
capable of producing biological agents as well as support equipment such as
water supply tanks, an air compressor, a water chiller, and a system for
collecting exhaust gases, the report said. The report said coalition forces
failed to find a missing trailer that would have been equipped with mixing
tanks, centrifuges, and spray dryers for the preparation, sterilization and
drying of biological agents before introduction into a delivery system.
"These other units that we have not yet found would be needed to prepare
and sterilize the media and to concentrate and possibly dry the agent,
before the agent is ready for introduction into a delivery system, such as
bulk-filled munitions," the report said. "Before the Gulf war, Iraq bulk
filled missile and rocket warheads, aerial bombs, artillery shells, and