The JIC continued:
There are reportedly 6 mobile production centres,with one under construc tion. As of March 1999,three of these were fully functional and work was under way to enable the production of 5 unspecified BW agents. At one of these sites,some 20-30 t onnes of BW primary product were reportedly manufactured over four months.
[JIC, 19 April 2000]
This picture remained essentially constant for the next two years. By March 2002, the JIC was recording that the source had described seven such facilities in total, six road-based and one rail-based. The JIC continued to note that the intelligence was uncorroborated but did record that it was technically credible.
In September 2002, new intelligence from a reliable and established source quoting a new sub-source provided a degree of corroboration for the original source’s reporting. The new informant reported on the existence of mobile fermentation systems, designed for the military and allegedly for the production of single cell protein (a dietary supplement suitable for animal feed as well as human consumption) but having characteristics consistent with the production of biological agents. The informant was suspicious about the true purpose of the systems, although he did not connect them with biological warfare.
In its assessment in September 2002, the JIC noted that intelligence indicated that: . . . Iraq has developed for the military,fermentation systems which are ca pable of being mounted on road-trailers or rail cars. These could produce BW agent. [JIC, 9 September 2002]
This was the background to the account of mobile biological agent production facilities in the Government’s dossier. The dossier said in the Executive Summary: As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:
developed mobile laboratories for military use,corroborating earlier r eports about the mobile production of biological warfare agents.
and in Part 1 Chapter 3:
There was intelligence that Iraq was starting to produce biological warfare agents in mobile production facilities. Planning for the project had begun in 1995 under Dr Rihab Taha,known to have been a central player in the pre-Gulf War programme. . . .
UNSCOM established that Iraq considered the use of mobile biological agent production facilities. In the past two years evidence from defectors has indicated the existence of such facilities. Recent intelligence confirms that the Iraqi military have developed mobile facilities. These would help Iraq conceal and protect biological agent production from military attack or UN inspection.
In the subsequent debate in the House of Commons on 24 September 2002, the Prime Minister said: