The possibility of Iraq reassembling missiles from hidden components was to be a major feature of JIC estimates of the Iraqi ballistic missile stockpile in the years ahead.
JIC assessments in 1992 and 1993 reported on progress on UNSCOM inspections and remaining uncertainties; and included judgements on the ability of the Iraqi regime to resume production of missiles with ranges longer than those permitted under United Nations Security Council Resolution 687. As in the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons fields, the JIC assessment of August 1995 included an analysis of Iraq’s residual ballistic missile capabilities, taking into account information provided by Hussein Kamil after his defection. We noted in particular that the JIC recorded that: UNSCOM has verified destruction of the declared Scuds (and the Iraqi derivatives) and their launchers and believes it has a satisfactory account of what happened to the rest. UNSCOM has also supervised destruction of components and much of the missile-related infrastructure . . . [JIC, 24 August 1995]
In the same reassuring vein, the JIC said that: We would expect Kamil to know a lot about the missile programme . . . He has also said that all the Scuds and their components have been destroyed . . . [JIC, 24 August 1995]
The JIC also noted, however, that: Iraq will retain a technology and production base because SCR 687 allows it to continue to develop and manufacture missiles with ranges less than 150 km. But intelligence reports that some current missile R&D work is being hidden from UNSCOM inspectors. Iraq has now revealed that it developed domestic Scud-type missile motors. This re-introduces uncertainty into an area where UNSCOM had previously expressed itself to be satisfied. [JIC, 24 August 1995]
This inherent uncertainty was reflected in the next JIC assessment, in June 1996, in which the JIC said that:
Information obtained in the wake of the August defection has,however,led UNSCOM to judge that missile components,launchers and possibly complete SCUD missiles remain hidden. We doubt whether there are any concealed missiles in Iraq but it is likely that components remain.
[JIC, 12 June 1996]
The JIC also included an assessment of Iraq’s ability to regenerate a longer-range missile capability:
If all UN controls were to be removed and Iraq could purchase the technology and expertise required to produce a long-range missile,an accurate 1,000km r ange missile could probably be produced within three to five years. A 300–500km range SCUD type missile could be indigenously manufactured within two years.
[JIC, 12 June 1996]