The conventional wisdom about Iraq’s WMD programs is that they were moribund after the First Gulf War, and the hundreds of chemical weapons that have been found in Iraq are merely detritus which was most likely lost or forgotten by Saddam’s government. That narrative flies in the face of a great deal of physical and documentary evidence, much of which we have discussed on this site. But a newly-translated Project Harmony document, CMPC-2003-00011084-HT-DHM2A.pdf, provides some of the most definitive evidence yet that Saddam’s government continued its illicit weapons programs long after the conclusion of the Gulf War.
This document is a letter from the Director of the Criminal Department, Na’man Ali Muhammad, to the Director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, dated September 4, 1999:
Mr. Muhammad indicated that the International Inspection Committee would be inspecting the Al-Rashad location, among other locations, looking for non-conventional weapons and other chemical agents. He added that the following procedures were implemented on the fifth month of this year [TC: May 1999] in order to prevent disclosure of the locations:
1- Relocate all I[raqi] I[ntelligence] S[ervice] documents
2- Relocate all IIS chemical materials and equipment
3- Designate a group of employees from the Ministry of Health to replace the IIS employees
4- Relocate some of the officers and employees, whose job descriptions are not compatible with the Ministry of Health to Al-Rashidiah, and implement other appropriate concealment procedures.
He continues to state that present situation of the Directorate could be extended for an unspecified period of time. This situation could frequently reoccur, which has a direct negative impact on the performance and duties of the Directorate, with regards to providing essential levels of security. Consequently, the location of the site could be discovered. In addition the Ministry of Health may not be able to afford releasing its employees for a long period of time. Also, the presence of the Ministry of Health employees, and their integration with our employees, is a security breach. The close location of the directorate to other public locations, such as Al-Thaurah and Hay AlSinak, makes it a non-secure location. He added that the location is within the range of the enemy’s coordinates, and that special attention should be given to the collaborators who are present within these areas. The following alternate locations were suggested:
1- The Technical Research Center located on Palestine Street (previous Olympic Committee), since part of its Criminology Research Department was transferred to the Criminology Department.
2- Scientific Research Center, since it contains some laboratories that can be used for the work of the Criminology Department.
This seems pretty definitive. The subject is how to evade the search for “non-conventional weapons and other chemical agents.” The evasion includes moving Iraqi Intelligence documents, and substituting Department of Health employees for intelligence agents. Further, the Intelligence Service’s “chemical materials and equipment” were relocated. This doesn’t sound like they were just moving old munitions left over from the 1980s from place to place.
As much as one document can prove anything, this seems to demonstrate that Iraq was secretly producing and hiding chemical weapons as of September 1999.