Last updated on: 6/2/2008 10:23:00 AM PST
To what extent did the US supply Iraq with materials used to create weapons of mass destruction?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Irene Gendzier, PhD, Professor of Political Science at Boston University, stated in the Spring 2005 article "Democracy, Deception and the Arms Trade: The US, Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction," published in the the Middle East Report:

"Far more accessible, insofar as evidence concerning US complicity in weapons sales to Iraq, were the Congressional hearings that had taken place a decade earlier. Two were especially important: the inquiry of the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee under Rep. Henry Gonzalez (D-TX) and the investigation of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee under Sen. Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (D-MI)....

On October 27, 1992, the Senate committee heard expert testimony that revealed that 'dozens of United States firms, many holding United States export licenses, contributed directly to Iraq's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program, let alone its chemical weapons.' The same hearings revealed that the Commerce Department 'approved at least 220 export licenses for the Iraqi armed forces, major weapons complexes and enterprises identified by the Central Intelligence Agency as diverting technology to weapons programs.'"


Spring 2005 - Irene Gendzier, PhD 

Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, responded to Senator Robert Byrd in a Sep. 19, 2002 testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee:

"SEN. BYRD: ...Mr. Secretary, to your knowledge, did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War? Are we in fact now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?
 
RUMSFELD: Certainly not to my knowledge. I have no knowledge of United States companies or government being involved in assisting Iraq develop, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."
 
[Editor's Note: In accordance with our organizational policy to "comment when we believe that information put out by government officials or organizations is false, misleading, or erroneous," and given the documentation presented below, ProCon.org finds Donald Rumsfeld's Sep. 19, 2002 testimony to be erroneous or misleading.]

Sep. 19, 2002 - Donald Rumsfeld 

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its Feb. 7, 1994 Letter Report titled "Iraq: U.S. Military Items Exported or Transferred to Iraq in the 1980s" (GAO/NSIAD-94-98), stated:

"Since 1980, U.S. policy has been to deny export licenses for commercial sales of defense items to Iraq, except when the items were for the protection of the head of state. As a result of the exception, license applications valued at $48 million were approved. The Department of Defense (DOD) has not made any foreign military sales to Iraq since 1967. In contrast, U.S. policy toward Iraq for sales of dual-use items (items that have both civilian and military uses) was not constrained by national security controls, and there were few applicable foreign policy controls until August 1990. Thus, the Department of Commerce approved the licenses for exporting $1.5 billion of dual-use items to Iraq between 1985 and 1990...

Commerce officials told us that because Iraq was removed from antiterrorism controls and because controls on missile technology and chemical and biological warfare were not in place until the late 1980s, few foreign policy controls were placed on exports to Iraq during the 1980s. They said that this, along with the lack of national security controls, resulted in a long list of high-technology items being sold to Iraq during the 1980s.

Commerce data showed that between 1985 and 1990, it approved 771 licenses, valued at $1.5 billion, for sales to Iraq, while only 39 applications were rejected."


Feb. 7, 1994 - Approved Liceses to Iraq, 1985-1986 (1.71 MB)  
Approved Licenses to Iraq Single Page (56 KB)  
Government Accountability Office (GAO) 

Donald W. Riegle, MBA, (D-MI), and Alfonse M. D'Amato, JD, former (R-NY), former Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, in their May 25, 1994 report titled "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Gulf War," also known as "The Riegle Report," stated:

"In October 1992, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, which has Senate oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act (EAA), held an Inquiry into the U.S. export policy to Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War. During that hearing it was learned that U.N. Inspectors identified many U.S.-manufactured items exported pursuant to licenses issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce that were used to further Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development and missile delivery system development programs...

...we contacted a principal supplier of biological materials to determine what, if any, materials were exported to Iraq which might have contributed to an offensive or defensive biological warfare program.

Records available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning "disease producing"), toxigenic (meaning "poisonous"), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce.... Included in the approved sales are the following biological materials...: Bacillus Anthracis: anthrax...Clostridium Botulinum: a bacterial source of botulinum toxin...Histoplasma Capsulatum: a fungus affecting the lungs...Brucella Melitensis: a bacteria which can cause...damage to major organs...Clostridium Perfringens: a highly toxic bateria which causes gas gangrene."

May 25, 1994 - Donald W. Riegle, Jr., MBA 
Al D'Amato, JD 

Henry B. Gonzalez, JD, former US Congressman (D-TX), stated in his July 21, 1992 US House of Representatives floor speech titled "United States Policy to Arm Iraq":

"An initial review of 73 cases in which licenses were granted by DOC or DOC/DOD [Department of Commerce/Department of Defense] from 1986-1989 shows that licenses were granted for equipment with dual or not clearly stated uses for export to probably proliferation related end users in Iraq. This indicates that expanded license requirements and additional review of licenses could reduce U.S. contributions to proliferation activities. These cases concerned only exports for which a license had to be obtained; they indicate nothing about equipment that may have been exported freely because no license was required.
 
EXAMPLES

  • During the period in question, at least 17 licenses were issued for the export of bacteria or fungus cultures either to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) or the University of Baghdad.
  • A known procurement agent for Iraqi missile programs, ------ was issued licenses to export computers to a missile activity and computers and electronic instruments to the IAEC.
  • A license was issued to export a computer for a `fertilizer plant' to the Iraqi Ministry of Minerals, which is known to be associated with the Iraqi CW [chemical weapons] program.
  • ------ received a license to export equipment to the Nasser Establishment for `general military applications such as jet engine repair, rocket cases, etc.'
  • Licenses were issued for the export to Iraq of computer-assisted design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and chemical process control equipment.
  • ------ had a license approved by DoD for a computer system for use with a furnace for `medical prostheses.'
  • ------ also had a license approved by DoD/DOC to export numerically controlled equipment related to crucibles.
  • ------ received a license to export `navigation/direction finding/radar/mobile communications' equipment to Salah-al-Din, which is associated with an Iraqi missile project.
  • DoD approved a license for the export of possible telemetry equipment to the Saddam General Establishment."

  • July 21, 1992 - Henry B. Gonzalez, JD 

    Gary Milhollin, JD, Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, in his Mar. 8, 1992 New York Times Magazine article titled "Building Saddam Hussein's Bomb," stated:

    "In the five years before the Persian Gulf war, for example, the Commerce Department licensed more than $1.5 billion of strategically sensitive American exports to Iraq. Many were for direct delivery to nuclear weapon, chemical weapon and missile sites. Companies like Hewlett-Packard, Honeywell, International Computer Systems, Rockwell and Tektronix sold high-performance electronics either to Saad 16, Iraq's major missile research center; to the Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization, which set up Al Atheer; to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, responsible for atomic-bomb research; or to Nasr State Enterprise, in charge of Iraq's missile and nuclear procurement. Honeywell even did a feasibility study for a powerful gasoline bomb warhead, intended for an Iraqi-Egyptian missile."

    Mar. 8, 1992 - Gary Milhollin, JD