Iraq: April 17, 2001


German intelligence has confirmed what the US has been saying for months -- Iraq is rebuilding its facilities to produce weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has built several plants capable of producing "precursor chemicals" needed to produce chemical weapons. The Germans have confirmed US reports that dual-use equipment has been added to existing chemical plants. The CIA reports that Iraq may have 6,000 chemical munitions and a small force of Scud missiles which survived the Gulf War. Iraq has been working on ballistic missiles. Baghdad can now produce ammonium perchlorate, the key ingredient in solid rocket fuel. Iraq bought the equipment for this factory from India, shipping it through Malaysia and Dubai under false papers. The Indian company that sold the equipment is on a list maintained by the German government of companies that Germans cannot do business with. The Indian company has been linked to several international cases of weapons proliferation. Work is moving rapidly on short-range solid-fuel artillery rockets and short-range missiles, including the Arabil-100. German intelligence says that Iraq could produce a missile with a range of 3,000km by 2005. The CIA confirms this analysis. UN officials, however, reject this theory saying that Iraq has not been able to buy or build the large mixing systems needed to cast larger-diameter solid-fuel rocket motors. Iraq is also working on the liquid-fuel Al-Samoud short-range ballistic missile, particularly on improving its accuracy. A limited operational force of these missiles could be ready "in the near term". German intelligence reports that Iraq could produce a nuclear bomb in three to five years, and is working on biological weapons.--Stephen V Cole 


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