The Washington Post
Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar

Related Items

On Our Site
Iraq Special Report

 

The Unconventional Arsenal

The United Nations and United States suspect Iraq still holds dangerous amounts of chemical and biological "weapons of mass destruction." The types and amounts listed here are what Iraq says it possessed over the last seven years. Iraq insists the chemical and biological stockpiles have been destroyed; the United Nations disputes that.

Biological Weapons

ANTHRAX


Description: This often fatal bacteria causes high fever, difficulty in breathing, chest pain and eventually blood poisoning. Antibiotics often prove useless after a short period.

Declared: 2,245 gallons, enough to kill billions. The U.N. suspects production was three to four times that.

BOTULINUM TOXIN


Description: This bacteria first causes vomiting, constipation, thirst, weakness, fever, dizziness, blurred vision, pupil dilation and difficulty in swallowing. Eventually it causes paralysis, respiratory failure and often death.

Declared: 5,125 gallons, enough to wipe out Earth's population several times. The U.N. suspects the number may have been twice that.

AFLATOXIN


Description: A mold that grows on nuts and other crops, it causes jaundice, internal bleeding and liver cancer.

Declared: 581 gallons.

RICIN


Description: A castor bean derivative, ricin can be used as a pesticide or as an agent of warfare. It kills cells and, having impeded breathing and circulation, causes death within two days. It can also be ingested or injected.

Declared: 2.7 gallons.

GAS GANGRENE


Description: Chlostridium perfingens, a meat contaminant, can enter open wounds and cause gas gangrene. Toxins kill muscle cells and cause bloating, shock, jaundice and sometimes death.

Declared: 90 gallons.

Chemical Weapons

VX


Description: A drop of the nerve gas VX prevents the transmission of nerve signals, causing loss of muscle control, respiratory paralysis and death.

Declared: Four metric tons; the U.N. says the total could be as much as 200 metric tons.

SARIN


Description: Like VX, sarin disrupts communication between nerve cells and causes spasms, nausea, and possibly nervous system collapse and death.

Declared: 100 to 150 metric tons; the U.N. says the total could be as much as 200 metric tons.

MUSTARD GAS


Description: Mustard gas can be used in gas, aerosol and droplet form. As a liquid, it causes itching, burning and inflammation on the skin, followed by swelling of tissues. After a day, small blisters form, which are vulnerable to fatal tissue degeneration and infection. Inhalation leads to pulmonary edema, in which fluid floods the lungs, causing suffocation.

Declared: 500 to 600 metric tons.



DELIVERY SYSTEMS


The U.N. suspects that Iraq has a considerable arsenal of equipment, including Scud or other missiles, that the country could use to launch warheads filled with biological or chemical weapons.

FILLED WITH BIOLOGICAL AGENTS


Iraq claims it destroyed these, but U.N. cannot confirm:

16 Al Hussein warheads filled with botulinum toxin, five filled with anthrax and four filled with aflatoxin.

100 R-400 aerial bombs filled with botulinum toxin, 50 filled with anthrax and seven filled with aflatoxin.

In addition:

Iraq claims to have produced four aerosol spray tanks for aircraft.

7,770 pounds of growth media are unaccounted for.

FILLED WITH CHEMICAL AGENTS


Iraq claims to have filled 50 warheads with chemicals, according to the Department of Defense; only 30 are confirmed destroyed.

COULD BE EQUIPPED to DELIVER BIOLOGICAL OR CHEMICAL AGENTS


These systems, which Iraq had before the Gulf War, are not accounted for now. They can be equipped to deliver chemical or biological weapons.

15,000 to 25,000 rockets

2,000 aerial bombs

15,000 artillery shells

SOURCES: A published CIA report and staff research


© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

Back to the top

Navigation Bar
Navigation Bar