We conclude that it would be a rash person who asserted at this stage that evidence of Iraqi possession of stocks of biological or chemical agents, or even of banned missiles, does not exist or will never be found.
WHAT THE IRAQ SURVEY GROUP HAS FOUND
In June 2003, the US-led Iraq Survey Group (ISG) was established to investigate ‘weapons of mass destruction developed by Iraq under the previous regime’ and took over from the 75th Exploitation Task Force.
Following initial investigations, the ISG noted that it was unlikely that the Iraqis had deployed chemical and biological weapons on the battlefield for use. In March 2004, the ISG published an interim “Status Report” in which it projected key priorities for future investigation, including:
Further research into a complex and well-developed procurement system hidden by an effective denial and deception strategy.
New leads on plans to develop an indigenous capability to produce a range of chemicals, some of them subject to sanctions.
New information related to potential dual-use facilities.
Information indicating Iraqi interest in maintaining the knowledge needed to support a potential nuclear programme.
As we note in the introduction to this report, the ISG have not yet produced any publicly available comprehensive report. But we have been advised that, in their work over the past year, they have developed the following key concerns:
On Iraq’s nuclear programme, the ISG are continuing to investigate Iraqi attempts to sustain the necessary intellectual capital, both human and documentary, to reconstitute such a programme.
On Iraq’s chemical weapons programme, the ISG found a small number of pre- 1991 weapons.
On Iraq’s biological weapons programme, the ISG are continuing to investigate the evidence of post-1991 biological research, including potential laboratories run by the Iraqi Intelligence Service.
On Iraq’s ballistic missile programme, there is evidence of clear decisions by the Iraqi leadership to proceed with the development and production of ballistic missiles beyond permitted ranges, but no corroboration that new warheads capable of chemical and biological payloads were developed for ballistic missiles.
The ISG are continuing to investigate the decisions and plans of the former Iraqi regime, and we have been told that the debriefing of detainees has included:
Admissions that chemical weapons were used in the Iran-Iraq assertions that any remaining stocks were destroyed in 1991.