Chemical Weapons Discovered in Iraq

Austin Bay is all over news that the Iraq Survey Group has discovered hundreds of “degraded” munitions containing weaponized mustard and sarin gases. The munitions, although apparently dating back to the first Gulf War, would seem to further undermine claims from the anti-war fringe that Iraq had declared and destroyed its stocks of non-conventional weaponry.

Perhaps more disturbing is that Iraq’s weapons stocks remain largely unaccounted for. As Alex Knapp has noted repeatedly, and the administration documents seem to reinforce, there is strong evidence that terrorist groups in and around Iraq have been seeking chemical and biological weapons; we can only hope the ISG has been more diligent in finding these munitions than al-Qaida or the Sunni insurgents.

þ: Glenn Reynolds, who has a press conference transcript and documentation from the administration supporting the GOP claims.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Middle East, , , , , ,
Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.


  1. Len says:

    Please tell me you’re not really buying into this dog and pony show.

  2. jwb says:

    These would be the “WMDs” (haha) described as:

    While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible Indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter …


  3. Richard Gardner says:

    The great news is that these old weapons from about 1990 are so old they are degraded and of no use and no hazard. I guess this means that the US Chemical Weapons awaiting destruction that are at least a decade older than the Iraqi weapons are of no use and no hazard. The folks near the elimination sites in Umitilla, OR; Pine Ridge, AR; Toole, UT… have absolutely no basis for their concerns.

    Then again, Americans are so much smarter than foreigners, so our much older weapons are still better.

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic above. I just saw a talking head on TV spouting nonsense about the “old” weapons being unusable after 10 years (1991-2002), and seeing racism that even older American weapons are inherently longer lasting. These weapons are bad news, period.

    All that being said, there is still much that is not know about this, and other reports. We’ve seen too many reports, such as this

    However, this does show that Iraq (Saddam) was lying to the UN Inspectors and defying UN Resolutions – he did not destroy all Chemical Weapons. Perhaps he was so incompetent that he didn’t know how many he had, but I wouldn’t count on that.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Great, while Bush persues phantoms in Iraq, N Korea has real WMD and almost has the means to hit us with them. Boy am I sleeping better with Saddam locked up…

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anjin, why don’t we test the effectiveness of that old WMD on you? I know you would volunteer to be present when the old gas was released. I would prove your point. Question, did you feel better when the war criminals Clinton went after in Kosovo were locked up? Saddam would have put you in the shredder feet first. Video at 11.

  6. Jon j says:

    US chemical weapons are indeed much more sophisticated than Iraqi chemical weapons. Why should that surprise anyone ? US weapons use binary technology, a difficult technology that Iraq never mastered.

    Anjin, why don�t we test the effectiveness of that old WMD on you? I

    Not Anjin, but the appropriate answer is — sure, but first please produce $1Billion per shell (the cost of $500B/500).

  7. Jon j says:

    Here is the Duelfer report (from 2005) on this:

    “ISG assesses that Iraq and Coalition Forces will
    continue to discover small numbers of degraded
    chemical weapons, which the former Regime mislaid
    or improperly destroyed prior to 1991. ISG believes
    the bulk of these weapons were likely abandoned,
    forgotten and lost during the Iran-Iraq war because
    tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward
    deployed along frequently and rapidly shifting battlefronts.
    � All but two of the chemical weapons discovered
    since OIF were found in southern Iraq where the
    majority of CW munitions were used against Iran in
    the Iran-Iraq war.”

    Enough said ? Its possible that the report Santorum mentions refers to a new primed cache, actively used and referred to in documents, that was found after the ISG left. However, the Washington Post today points out

    “The lawmakers pointed to an unclassified summary from a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center regarding 500 chemical munitions shells that had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988
    The U.S. military announced in 2004 in Iraq that several crates of the old shells had been uncovered and that they contained a blister agent that was no longer active. Neither the military nor the White House nor the CIA considered the shells to be evidence of what was alleged by the Bush administration to be a current Iraqi program to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.”

    So this looks to be the same as those same shells found in 2004. Mustard gas is a blister agent.

    Ask yourself this — if these were evidence of a real, active cache, why on Earth would the administration leave it to these 2 clowns to publish

  8. legion says:

    There is also a vast difference between chemical weapons that are ‘dangerous’ and those that are still ‘militarily useful’. One can be used to kill troops on the battlefield. The other can be used to cause cancer in people 10 years after they’re exposed. Guess which kind this ‘news flash’ refers to. If Saddam was lying to the UN about his chems, then Bush’s own hand-picked ISG has been lying to Bush, haven’t they?

    Another point I’ve seen made is that this announcement was fronted by exactly two people: Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intel Committee (which makes some sense), and Santorum, who’s a big wheel in the GOP conference structure. While hardly conclusive, this should be a red flag to anyone who’s watched this administration work over the last few years that this is nothing more than yet another partisan spin attempt. These peopel literally have no morals whatsoever.

  9. Michael says:

    This is a non-story.

    First off, the document itself is from the National Guard Intelligence Center (NGIC), not the Iraq Survey Group (ISG). Curiously, it claims to be an overview of chemical munitions recovered in Iraq since May 2004, and the very first key point mentions a total of munitions found since 2003.

    Now why is this important? Because the ISG, who was tasked with the search for WMDs in Iraq, finished their investigation in Sept 2004. In their final report they stated, among other things, that “Iraq had no deployable WMD of any kind as of March 2003”, and added an in March 2005 that “any remaining chemical munitions in Iraq do not pose a militarily significant threat … ISG has not found evidence to indicate that Iraq did not destroy its BW weapons or bulk agents”. Which contradicts directly your statement that any of this “undermine claims from the anti-war fringe that Iraq had declared and destroyed its stocks of non-conventional weaponry”. (Wikipedia)

    It is not being claimed that the NGIC report contained new findings, or any information not stated in the ISG report. If we had actually found evidence supporting pre-war intelligence, why wasn’t it one of the intelligence agencies reporting it? It seems this document is nothing more than select information from the ISG report, being spun for the political gain of a top GOP congressman.

  10. Dave says:

    “US weapons use binary technology, a difficult technology that Iraq never mastered.”

    This will be of considerable surprise to the troops that found a Binary Sarin shell being used as an IED back in 2004.,2933,120268,00.html

    Also, during the Sanctions period inspectors found and destroyed a fair number of Binary warheads for Iraqi SCUD-variants.

    Never “mastered”? Maybe not. They certainly used it, though.

  11. Herb says:

    I don’t think that Anjin San And Ken have a thing to worry about with NK having WMD and a means to deliver them.

    A NK Nuke could hit either of them square on the head and it would not knock any sense into their thick Liberal skulls.