probably plague. With the exception of plague,Iraq previously admitted d oing research on these and other agents but steadfastly denied the work was for an offensive programme. UNSCOM,although suspicious,could find no clear evi dence to the contrary. . . . In a ’full,final and complete declaration’ given to UNSCOM in August 1995,Iraq admitted to a major BW programme under which it had produc ed huge quantities of anthrax and botulinum toxin,but implausibly denied it had ever considered weaponisation. . . . In the last few days Iraq has admitted to UNSCOM that agent was produced at additional sites,field-testing of weapons took place in 1989,and that bombs and missile warheads were filled with anthrax and botul inum toxin in December 1990. . . . Many questions remain on the BW programme; Iraq has not,for example,admitted any work on plague.
[JIC, 24 August 1995]
In June 1996, the JIC said:
Iraq has not yet admitted to work on plague and has played down its success in developing BW aerosol delivery systems.
[JIC, 12 June 1996]
In September 1997, the JIC commented:
Iraq claimed,however,that it had terminated the [BW] programme and destr oyed its arsenal before UN inspections began in 1991. These admissions,while asse ssed to be largely accurate,are incomplete. We assess that Iraq has withheld info rmation on key elements of its programme: reliable intelligence has described work on plague and suspicions persist of work on other pox viruses.
[JIC, 3 September 1997]
In March 2002, the JIC reported as follows:
W e . . . j u d g e t h a t I r a q c u r r e n t l y h a s a v a i l a b l e , e i t h e r f r o m p r e G u l f w a r s t o c k s o r more recent production,anthrax spores,botulinum toxin,aflatoxin and po plague . . . ssibly
The following biological agents could be produced within days,if not alre ady: Anthrax spores,botulinum toxin,aflatoxin and possibly plague.
[JIC, 15 March 2002]
Plague seems to have been included in this list mainly on the basis of reporting from a much earlier period. The judgement that Iraq could “possibly” produce plague within days was stronger than was justified by more recent intelligence. UNSCOM’s final report in January 1999 made no mention of plague. One intelligence report, issued in 1999 and re-issued in 2003, commented that cats, reportedly being used by Iraq in animal experiments, exhibited a susceptibility to plague that was similar to humans. But the report also noted that the informant was unaware of any Iraqi work on plague as a biological warfare agent. Comments on the report itself concluded prudently:
We do not currently have any evidence that plague forms part of the Iraq BW programme.