WASHINGTON --- The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has developed a highly advanced system of denial and deception for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, according to a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst.
Iraq has been "taking steps to conceal sensitive equipment and documentation in anticipation of new inspections" by U.N. weapons inspection teams, DIA intelligence officer John Yurechko said October 8 at a Pentagon briefing.
Yurechko said Iraq has three essential goals -- blur the truth about its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) initiatives, prevent U.N. weapons inspectors from uncovering its WMD programs, and block complete disarmament. And to enhance those goals, Yurechko said, Iraq has a highly developed concealment organization within the highest reaches of the Iraqi government leading directly to its president -- Saddam Hussein.
The government's concealment mechanism involves the Higher Security Committee, which answers directly to Hussein, and the Special Security Organization, which is headed by Hussein's youngest son Qusay Saddam Hussein, Yurechko said. These internal security agencies, in turn, control activities by the Iraqi Military Industrial Commission, Iraqi Intelligence Service, Special Republican Guard, and the Directorate for Military Intelligence, he said.
Iraq has employed eight well-advanced techniques in what intelligence agencies call "denial and deception" to conceal its WMD programs, he said. He listed:
-- concealing and sanitizing facilities, -- making fraudulent declarations to the U.N. and weapons inspectors, -- sacrificing elements of some WMD programs to deceive inspectors, -- creating WMD facility and program cover stories, -- placing WMD programs in "dual-use" facilities, -- declaring suspect facilities as "sensitive sites," -- establishing disinformation programs, and -- staging tours of alleged WMD facilities by the Iraqi Ministry of Information.
In one case of concealment cited by Yurechko, the Iraqis placed the Abu Ghurayb biological weapons facility within a residential area surrounded by nondescript buildings. The Iraqis added to its concealment by labeling the facility as a "baby milk plant," he said, though the plant's buildings were painted in camouflage patterns, surrounded by double chain-link fences and had guard posts.
At the Fallujah III Castor Oil Production Plant, Yurechko said, the Iraqis rebuilt portions of the former chemical weapons facility after it was partially destroyed in Operation Desert Fox. Iraqi officials claimed they were making castor oil for brake fluid production, but castor oil has been used as an ingredient in chemical weapons, he said.
And, he said, the Iraqis have built a large new chemical complex, Project Baiji, at al-Sharqat in the desert in northwest Iraq. Intelligence reports indicate it will produce nitric acid, which can be used in explosives, missile fuel, and purification of uranium, he said.
Yurechko said Iraq has begun renewed production of the chemical agents mustard gas, sarin, cyclosarin and VX.
"All key aspects of Iraq's BW [biological weapons] program (research and development, production, weaponization) are active," he said, and "most elements are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf War."
Yurechko said Iraq continues to develop its nuclear program in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and U.N. Security Council Resolution 687. In addition, he said, Iraq has retained a large cadre of nuclear scientists, engineers, and technicians to keep its program operating.
Finally, he said that gaps in Iraq's accounting to U.N. inspectors suggest that Hussein retains a covert force of up to a few dozen SCUD-variant ballistic missiles with ranges of 650-900 kilometers.
The DIA briefing coincided with an unclassified report released October 4 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs," which details how Iraq has continued its WMD programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. It indicates that Iraq currently has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions, and if left unchecked will have a nuclear weapon within the current decade. (ends)
Analyst Says Iraq Has Advanced System for Hiding Weapons Programs