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US-Iraq 1980s

Project: History of US Interventions
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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The US State Department includes Iraq in its list of states that sponsor terrorism. [Phythian, 1997]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

A US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document reports that since the mid-1970s, Iraq has been “actively acquiring” chemical weapons. [Phythian, 1997]

Entity Tags: Defense Intelligence Agency

April 10, 1980: Iraq Detains Kurds

Saddam Hussein’s Interior Ministry issues directive No. 2884, which orders the detainment of some 5,000 people—mostly Kurds of Iranian background—between the ages of 18 and 28. These people will never be seen again (see Late Summer 1980). [Independent, 12/13/2002]

Entity Tags: Iraqi Ministry of the Interior

Roughly 5,000 Iraqis, mostly northern Kurds, are detained by Saddam Hussein’s army, never to be seen again. According to numerous Kurds later interviewed by The Independent of London, the detainees were killed in gas and chemical weapons experiments. A Kurdish refugee in Lebanon will recall: “It is now clear, that during the war with Iran many of the young detainees were taken to secret laboratories in different locations in Iraq and were exposed to intense doses of chemical and biological substances in a myriad of conditions and situations. With every military setback at the front causing panic in Baghdad, these experiments had to be speeded up—which meant more detainees were needed to be sent to the laboratories, which had to test VX nerve gas, mustard gas, sarin, tabun, aflatoxin, gas gangrene, and anthrax.” The refugee will also claim that Western intelligence was fully aware of what had happened to the 5,000 detainees. [Independent, 12/13/2002]

Shatt al-Arab waterway.Shatt al-Arab waterway. [Source: CNN]Iraq invades Iran, officially beginning a nine-year war between those two countries, though Iraq insists that Iran has been launching artillery attacks against Iraqi targets since September 4. The overarching reason, according to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is over control of the Shatt al-Arab, the geographically critical waterway between Iran and Iraq that empties into the Persian Gulf. (Iraq signed over partial control of the Shatt al-Arab to Iran in 1975, but reclaimed the waterway in 1979 after the fall of Iran’s Shah Reza Pahlavi; Iraq also has hopes to conquer the oil-rich Iranian province of Khuzestan.) The United States will provide covert military support to both Iran (see November 3, 1986) and Iraq (see 1981-1988) during the war. [Infoplease, 2007]

Entity Tags: Saddam Hussein

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Iran-Contra Affair

The Reagan administration provides covert support to Iraq in an effort to prevent Iran from overrunning the oil-rich states of the Persian Gulf. [New York Times, 8/18/2002; Nation, 8/26/2002; Washington Post, 12/30/2002]
bullet US Air Force officers are secretly deployed to Iraq to assist their counterparts in the Iraqi military. [Nation, 8/26/2002]
bullet The US provides satellite photography to Iraq revealing the movements of the Iranian forces. [Washington Post, 12/15/1986; New York Times, 8/18/2002 Sources: senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program, Unnamed informed sources interviewed by reporter Bob Woodward]
bullet The US provides Iraq with intelligence gathered by Saudi-owned AWACS operated by the Pentagon. [Nation, 8/26/2002]
bullet Iraq uses US-supplied military intelligence “to calibrate attacks with mustard gas on Iranian ground troops….” (see 1984) [Washington Post, 12/15/1986]
bullet “[M]ore than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency…. secretly [provide] detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq.” [New York Times, 8/18/2002]
bullet President Reagan and Vice President George Bush personally deliver military advice to Saddam Hussein, both directly and through intermediaries (see 1986). [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; Washington Post, 12/30/2002]
bullet The US closely monitors “third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure Iraq [has] the military weaponry required.” [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; Washington Post, 12/30/2002]
bullet According to the censured portion of Iraq’s December 7, 2002 declaration to the UN (see December 7, 2002) (see December 19, 2002), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories help train Iraqi nuclear weapons scientists and provide nonfissile material for Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26/2003]

Entity Tags: Saddam Hussein, United Nations, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, George Herbert Walker Bush, Defense Intelligence Agency, Ronald Reagan, US Department of the Air Force, US Department of Defense, Reagan administration

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US and British companies are among several Western firms that sell Iraq materials that can be used to develop nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons. [Associated Press, 12/21/2002; New York Times, 12/21/2002; Washington Post, 12/30/2002; San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26/2003; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 2/23/2003]
United States -
bullet Biological: American Type Culture Collection, several biological precursor agents for diseases like anthrax, gangrene, and the West Nile virus; Alcolac International, Thiodiglycol, the mustard gas precursor; Al Haddad, 60 tons of a chemical that could be used to make sarin; Dow Chemical, $1.5 million of pesticides (see December 1988). [Die Tageszeitung (Berlin), 10/18/2002; New York Times, 12/21/2002; Washington Post, 12/30/2002]
bullet Nuclear: TI Coating; UNISYS; Tektronix; Leybold Vacuum Systems; Finnigan-MAT-US; Hewlett Packard; Dupont; Consarc; Cerberus (LTD) ; Canberra Industries; Axel Electronics Inc. [Die Tageszeitung (Berlin), 10/18/2002; Z Magazine, 10/29/2002]
bullet Rocket Program: Honeywell ;TI Coating; UNISYS; Honeywell; Semetex; Sperry Corp.; Tektronix; Hewlett Packard; Eastman Kodak; Electronic Associates; EZ Logic Data Systems, Inc. [Die Tageszeitung (Berlin), 10/18/2002; Z Magazine, 10/29/2002]
bullet Conventional weapons: Honeywell; Spektra Physics; TI Coating; UNISYS; Sperry Corp.; Rockwell; Hewlett Packard; Carl Zeis -U.S; Union Carbide. [Die Tageszeitung (Berlin), 10/18/2002; Z Magazine, 10/29/2002; Washington Post, 12/30/2002; San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26/2003]
United Kingdom -
bullet : Nuclear weapons: Euromac Ltd-UK.; C Plath-Nuclear; Endshire Export Marketing; International Computer Systems; MEED International; International Computer Limited; Matrix Churchill Corp.; Ali Ashour Daghir.; Inwako; XYY Options, Inc. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 2/23/2003]
bullet Chemical weapons: MEED International; International Computer Systems; International Military Services; Sheffield Forgemasters; Technology Development Group; International Signal and Control; Terex Corporation; Walter Somers Ltd. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 2/23/2003]
bullet Conventional: International Computer Systems; International Computer Limited; TMG Engineering. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 2/23/2003]

The official Iranian news agency claims that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces along the northern section of the Iran-Iraq border. [Vallette, 3/24/2003] By the end of the decade, some 100,000 people will die as a result of chemical warfare waged by the Iraqis. [New York Times, 2/13/2003]

Ronald Reagan (left) and William Casey (right).Ronald Reagan (left) and William Casey (right). [Source: CIA]President Reagan orders the Defense Department and the CIA to supply Iraq’s military with intelligence information, advice, and hardware for battle after being advised to do so by CIA Director William Casey. Former Reagan national security official Howard Teicher will later reveal that Casey “personally spearheaded the effort to insure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war.” The US will continue to provide this type of intelligence to Iraq until 1988. [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; Knight Ridder, 2/24/1995; MSNBC, 8/18/2002; New York Times, 8/18/2002]

Entity Tags: William Casey, Howard Teicher, Ronald Reagan

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

According to some accounts, Iraq begins using chemical weapons against Iran at this time. However, Iran claims that Iraq’s use of these weapons began in 1981 (see August 13, 1981). [Shultz, 1993, pp. 238; Jentleson, 1994, pp. 48; Cole, 1997, pp. 87]

The Reagan administration—despite stern objections from Congress—removes Iraq from the US State Department’s list of states sponsoring terrorism (see 1979). [New York Times, 2/28/1982; Washington Post, 12/30/2002; London Times, 12/31/2002] This clears the way for future US military aid to that country. [Phythian, 1997]

Entity Tags: Reagan administration

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Iran discovers a hole in Iraq’s defenses along the Iran-Iraq border between Baghdad and Basra and prepares to launch a massive invasion aimed at severing the country in two. As Howard Teicher will later note in his 1995 affidavit, a successful invasion would give Iran control over a huge quantity of oil—precisely the outcome that the US fears most. “United States Intelligence, including satellite imagery, had detected both the gap in the Iraqi defenses and the Iranian massing of troops across from the gap.” Teicher will explain. “At the time, the United States was officially neutral in the Iran-Iraq conflict. President Reagan was forced to choose between (a) maintaining strict neutrality and allowing Iran to defeat Iraq, or (b) intervening and providing assistance to Iraq. In June, 1982, President Reagan decided that the United States could not afford to allow Iraq to lose the war to Iran. President Reagan decided that the United States would do whatever was necessary and legal to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran.” [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; MSNBC, 8/18/2002; London Times, 12/31/2002]

Entity Tags: Howard Teicher, Ronald Reagan

President Reagan issues a national security directive which formalizes US policy toward the Iraq-Iran war, committing the US to continued support for Iraq to avoid an Iranian victory. The document is authored by National Security aides Howard Teicher and Geoff Kemp. [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; MSNBC, 8/18/2002; London Times, 12/31/2002]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan, Geoff Kemp, Howard Teicher

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Iraq uses chemical weapons against Iranian troops. [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file]

According to a State Department report, “Unspecified foreign officers [fire] lethal chemical weapons at the orders of Saddam [Hussein] during battles [against Iranian forces] in the Mandali area.” [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Saddam Hussein

The Italian subsidiary of Bell Textron, the manufacture of Bell helicopters, informs the US embassy in Rome that it has declined a request from Iraq to militarize recently purchased Hughes helicopters. [Battle, 2/25/2003]

Entity Tags: Bell Textron

The Reagan administration approves the sale of 60 civilian Hughes helicopters to Iraq, even though it is widely understood that the helicopters can be weaponized with little effort. Critics will regard the sale as military aid cloaked as civilian assistance. [Phythian, 1997, pp. 37-38]

Entity Tags: Reagan administration

Secretary of Commerce Howard Baldridge and Secretary of State George Shultz successfully lobby the National Security Council (NSC) adviser to approve the sale of 10 Bell helicopters to Iraq in spite of objections from other NSC members. It is claimed that the helicopters will be used for crop spraying. These same helicopters are later used in 1988 to deploy poison gas against Iranians and possibly Iraqi Kurds (see March 1988). [Washington Post, 3/11/1991; Phythian, 1997, pp. 37-38]

Entity Tags: Howard Baldridge, George Shultz, National Security Council

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran increases significantly. The US is informed of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons toward the end of the year. [Shultz, 1993, pp. 238; Jentleson, 1994, pp. 48; Cole, 1997, pp. 87]

Iranian diplomats bring photographs to the United Nations and several national capitals showing the swollen, blistered and burned bodies of injured and dead Iranians who have been victims of Iraqi chemical attacks. [New York Times, 2/13/2003]

Entity Tags: United Nations

Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt supply Iraq with US howitzers, helicopters, bombs, and other weapons with the secret approval of the Reagan administration. [New Yorker, 11/2/1992; Phythian, 1997, pp. 35] Italy also funnels arms to Iraq at the insistence of President Reagan who personally made the request to Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti. [Friedman, 1993, pp. 51-54; Phythian, 1997, pp. 36]

Entity Tags: Guilio Andreotti, Ronald Reagan

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

A US State Department report concludes that Iraq continues to support groups on the State Department’s terrorist list. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 52]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

The US State Department reports that Iraq’s support for anti-Western militant groups continues unabated. [Jentleson, 1994]

Iraq warns Iran of “new weapons… [to] be used for the first time in war… not used in previous attacks because of humanitarian and ethical reasons… that will destroy any moving creature.” [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file]

The South Korean government informs the State Department that it received a request from Iraq to militarize some helicopters. [Battle, 2/25/2003]

Iraq uses “a chemical agent with lethal effects against… Iranian forces invading Iraq at Haj Umran…” [US Department of State, 11/21/1983 pdf file; Central Intelligence Agency, 1997]

Entity Tags: Iraq

An Iraqi warplane drops a chemical bomb near the Iranian village of Bademjan. Iranian ambassador Said Rajaie Khorassani claims, ”]A white fume spread in the area causing severe skin injuries and several cases of loss of eyesight among people in the vicinity and 11 people lost their lives.” [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Said Rajaie Khorassani

US State Department official Jonathan T. Howe tells Secretary of State George P. Shultz that intelligence reports indicate that Saddam Hussein’s troops are resorting to “almost daily use of CW [Chemical Weapons]” against their Iranian adversaries. [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file; Washington Post, 12/30/2002; London Times, 12/31/2002]

Entity Tags: Jonathan T. Howe, George Shultz

US State Department official Jonathan T. Howe sends Secretary of Defense Lawrence Eagleburger a memo reporting that US intelligence has determined that “Iraq has acquired a CW [chemical weapons] production capability, primarily from Western firms, including possibly a US foreign subsidiary” and that Iraq has used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Kurdish insurgents. Referring to the US policy “of seeking a halt to CW use wherever it occurs,” Howe says the US is “considering” approaching Iraq directly, but in a way that avoids playing “into Iran’s hands by fueling its propaganda against Iraq.” Significantly, the memo acknowledges that the US has so far limited its “efforts against the Iraqi CW program to close monitoring because of our strict neutrality in the Gulf war, the sensitivity of sources, and the low probability of achieving desired results.” [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Jonathan T. Howe, Lawrence Eagleburger

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US President Ronald Reagan issues National Security Directive 114 on the United States’ policy toward the Iran-Iraq war. The document—which makes no mention of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons—calls for increased regional military cooperation to protect oil facilities and for improving US military capabilities in the region. The directive states, “Because of the real and psychological impact of a curtailment in the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf on the international economic system, we must assure our readiness to deal promptly with actions aimed at disrupting that traffic.” [US President, 11/26/1983 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Secretary of State George P. Shultz will later recall that reports of Iraq using chemical weapons against Iranian military personnel “drifted in” at about this time (see, e.g., November 1, 1983). [Schultz, 1993, pp. 238; Jentleson, 1994, pp. 48; Cole, 1997, pp. 87]

Entity Tags: George Shultz

US intelligence begins receiving reports that Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran has increased. [Shultz, 1993, pp. 238; Jentleson, 1994, pp. 48; Cole, 1997, pp. 87]

December 1983: US Ships Helicopters to Iraq

By the end of 1983, 60 Hughes MD 500 “Defender” helicopters have been shipped to Iraq despite objections from four Republican senators. The US Department of Commerce had decided that the exporting of aircraft weighing less than 10,000 pounds to Iraq did not require an export license. [Middle East Defense News, 11/9/1992]

Entity Tags: US Department of Commerce

The US State Department invites Bechtel officials to Washington to discuss plans for constructing the proposed Iraq-Jordan Aqaba oil pipeline. Former Bechtel president George Shultz is US Secretary of State at this time. [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Bechtel, George Shultz

President Reagan dispatches US envoy to the Middle East, Donald Rumsfeld, to convey the administration’s intention to “resume [US] diplomatic relations with Iraq” (see December 20, 1983). [American Gulf War Veterans Association, 9/10/2001; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/24/2002]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld greets Hussein.Rumsfeld greets Hussein. [Source: Washington Note.com]US Special Envoy Donald Rumsfeld—formerly the Secretary of Defense and now the CEO of the pharmaceutical company, GD Searle and Co.—personally meets with Saddam Hussein for 90 minutes in an attempt to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iraq. Rumsfeld also discusses US interest in the construction of the Iraq-Jordan Aqaba oil pipeline [to be built by Bechtel (see December 2, 1983)]. [US Department of State, 12/10/1983 pdf file; Iraqi television, 12/20/1983; US Department of State, 12/21/1983 pdf file; MSNBC, 8/18/2002; Newsweek, 9/23/2002; Washington Post, 12/30/2002; London Times, 12/31/2002; Vallette, 3/24/2003; New York Times, 4/14/2003] Rumsfeld does not raise the issue of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons with Saddam. [US Department of State, 12/21/1983 pdf file] Rumsfeld also delivers a letter to Hussein from Reagan administration officials declaring that for Iraq to be defeated by Iran (see September 1980) would be “contrary to United States interests.” Rumsfeld’s visit represents one side of the somewhat double-edged US foreign policy in the region: the US has allowed Israel to sell US-made arms to Iran for use against Iraq (see 1981). By this time, the US has already started clandestinely providing arms to Iraq as well (see October 1983). [New Yorker, 11/2/1992] After his meeting with the Iraqi president, Rumsfeld meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. They agree that “the US and Iraq… [share] many common interests.” Rumsfeld briefly mentions US concerns about Iraq’s chemical weapons, explaining that US “efforts to assist [Iraq]… [are] inhibited by certain things that made it difficult for us….” [US Department of State, 12/21/1983 pdf file] On September 19, 2002, almost two decades later, Rumsfeld will be questioned in Congress about this visit (see September 19, 2002). [US Congress, 9/20/2002]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein, Reagan administration

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Iran-Contra Affair

The CIA secretly provides Iraqi intelligence with instructions on how to “calibrate” its mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops. [Washington Post, 12/15/1986]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Vice-President George H.W. Bush becomes involved in the Reagan administration’s covert arming of Iraq, an operation which eventually comes to be known as “Iraqgate.” There is no evidence to show that Bush knew about the Pentagon’s efforts to arm Iraq through third parties (see October 1983), but subsequent aspects of the operation go through the National Security Planning Group, of which Bush is a member. According to participants in the group’s meetings, Bush is a strong advocate of the Aqaba pipeline project (see January 14, 1984) and other aspects of the Reagan administration’s covert tilt towards Iraq. [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, George Herbert Walker Bush

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Richard Murphy.Richard Murphy. [Source: Richard W Murphy.org]Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy writes a potentially explosive classified memo about arming Iraq. Murphy, along with his boss George Shultz and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, are strong proponents of supporting Iraq in its war with Iran (National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane and two of his staffers, Howard Teicher and Oliver North, support arming Iran; the argument is causing deep divides within the administration). Murphy’s memo is so sensitive that its recipients are ordered to destroy it and to keep records of its destruction. Murphy suggests that the US can arm Iraq with “dual use” items—nominally civilian items that also have military use, such as heavy trucks, armored ambulances, and communications gear. Murphy also advocates helping Iraq build a new oil pipeline that will pump oil to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, on the Israeli border, which will allow Iraq to circumvent the Iranian blockade of Iraq’s Persian Gulf ports. Murphy also mentions the State Department’s desire to fund a number of projects in Iraq through the US Export-Import bank (EXIM), chaired by Reagan appointee William Draper. Murphy writes, in part: “Liberalizing export controls on Iraq: we are considering revising present policy to permit virtually all sales of non-munitions list dual use equipment to Iraq…. Egyptian tank sales: in the context of recommending ways to improve our relations with Iraq, Egypt has suggested that we provide it additional M-60 tanks beyond those we are now providing under FMS [Foreign Military Sales]. Egypt would use the additional M-60s to replace used Soviet T-63s, which it would sell to Iraq…. EXIM financing: [Under-Secretary of State Lawrence] Eagleburger has written EXIM director Draper to urge EXIM financing of US exports to and projects in Iraq…. Such major EXIM financing could boost Iraq’s credit rating, leading to increased commercial financing for Iraq. However, EXIM does not favor involvement in Iraq.” Murphy warns that Congress might begin sniffing around the State Department’s secret policy of arming Iraq. He advocates fobbing off Congress with background briefings that emphasize “our efforts to deter escalation and bring about a cessation of hostilities.” [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: Oliver North, Export-Import Bank, Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz, Lawrence Eagleburger, US Department of Defense, Robert C. McFarlane, William Draper, Howard Teicher, US Department of State, Richard W. Murphy

Tariq Aziz.Tariq Aziz. [Source: BBC]Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy, the author of a secret policy memo detailing the administration’s new and covert military support for Iraq (see January 14, 1984), meets with Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, in Baghdad. Murphy later describes Aziz as wearing olive-green fatigues, clenching a Cuban cigar between his teeth, and sporting a pearl-handled revolver. Aziz welcomes the covert arms supplies from the US, and is particularly interested in the proposed construction of an oil pipeline to run from Iraq to Jordan, very near the Israeli border. However, mindful of the recent destruction of Iraq’s nuclear facility at Osirak by the Israelis (see June 7, 1981), Aziz insists that the US help finance the pipeline, both with government funds and private participation. Murphy agrees that the project is invaluable both in a geopolitical and an economic sense, and says he will so inform his Washington superiors. Murphy gingerly raises the question of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops (see 1982), but Aziz denies any such usages. Murphy doesn’t press the issue, but says that Iraq must, according to Murphy, “eliminate doubts in the international community by making their positions and explanations as clear and understandable to the international public as the allegations have been.” [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: Tariq Aziz, Richard W. Murphy

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

An Iraqi military spokesman warns Iran, “The invaders should know that for every harmful insect, there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it… and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide.” [US Department of State, 11/1/1983 pdf file; Washington Post, 12/30/2002]

Western journalists reporting on the war between Iraq and Iran verify the use of chemical weapons. [New York Times, 2/13/2003]

Bechtel executive H.C. Clark notes in an interoffice memo that “the State Department has exerted strong pressure on Ex-Im [the US Export-Import Bank] to make additional credits available [in Iraq], including for this [Aqaba ] pipeline.” [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: H.C. Clark, US Department of State, Export-Import Bank

European-based doctors examine Iranian troops and confirm exposure to mustard gas. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 76]

The United Nations dispatches experts to the conflict zone in the war between Iran and Iraq who document Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 76]

Entity Tags: United Nations

The US State Department issues a public condemnation of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons (see 1984, March 15, 1984). [New York Times, 12/23/2003]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

A US Department of State telegram reports, “The United States has concluded that the available evidence substantiates Iran’s charges that Iraq used chemical weapons.” [US Department of State, 3/1984 pdf file; New York Times, 3/6/1984; Cole, 1997, pp. 24; New York Times, 2/13/2003]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Frank Ricciardone, a US State Department desk officer, urges the Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with short-term loans “for foreign relations purposes.” [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Frank Ricciardone, Export-Import Bank, US Department of State

George Shultz.George Shultz. [Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology]US Secretary of Defense Lawrence Eagleburger meets with Iraqi diplomat Ismet Kattani to minimize the damage that the State Department’s March 5 condemnation (see March 5, 1984) of Iraqi chemical warfare has caused to US-Iraqi relations. Secretary of State George Shultz is also present and later sends a cable to embassies in the Middle East with a summary of the meeting. “Eagleburger began the discussion by taking Kittani aside to emphasize the central message he wanted him to take back: our policy of firm opposition to the prohibited use of CW [chemical weapons] wherever it occurs necessitated our March 5 statement condemning Iraq’s use of CW,” the note explains. “The statement was not intended to provide fuel for Khomeini’s propaganda war, nor to imply a shift in US policy toward Iran and Iraq. The US will continue its efforts to help prevent an Iranian victory, and earnestly wishes to continue the progress in its relations with Iraq. The Secretary [Shultz] then entered and reiterated these points.” [US Department of State, 3/1984 pdf file; New York Times, 12/23/2003]

Entity Tags: Lawrence Eagleburger, George Shultz, Said Rajaie Khorassani

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Iran presents a draft resolution to the UN which condemns Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. The US delegate to the UN is instructed to push for a “no decision” on the resolution, or if not possible, cast an abstaining vote. Iraq’s ambassador meets with the US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and asks for “restraint” in responding to the issue of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. [Battle, 2/25/2003]

Entity Tags: Jeane Kirkpatrick, United Nations

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US intelligence officials says they have “incontrovertible evidence that Iraq has used nerve gas in its war with Iran and has almost finished extensive sites for mass-producing the lethal chemical warfare agent.” [New York Times, 3/30/1984]

Iran accuses Iraq of poisoning 600 of its soldiers with mustard gas and Tabun nerve gas. [United Press International, 3/23/1984; American Gulf War Veterans Association, 9/10/2001]

The US State Department briefs Donald Rumsfeld, who is preparing to make another visit to Baghdad (see March 26, 1984). In a memo to Rumsfeld, Secretary of State George Shultz laments that relations with Iraq have soured because of the State Department’s March 5 condemnation (see March 5, 1984) of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons and expresses considerable concern over the future of the Aqaba pipeline project [to be built by Bechtel (see December 2, 1983)] which the US is pushing. Shultz writes: “Two event have worsened the atmosphere in Baghdad since your last stop there in December: (1) Iraq has only partly repulsed the initial thrust of a massive Iranian invasion, losing the strategically significant Majnun Island oil fields and accepting heavy casualties; (2) Bilateral relations were sharply set back by our March 5 condemnation of Iraq for CW [chemical weapons] use, despite our repeated warnings that this issue would emerge [as a public issue] sooner or later. Given its wartime preoccupations and its distress at our CW statement, the Iraqi leadership probably will have little interest in discussing Lebanon, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or other matters except as they may impinge on Iraq’s increasingly desperate struggle for survival. If Saddam or Tariq Aziz receives you against consider, and to reject, a pending application from Westinghouse to participate in a $160 million portion of a $1 billion Hyundai thermal power plant project in Iraq, this decision will only confirm Iraqi perceptions that ExIm [Export-Import Bank] financing for the Aqaba pipeline is out of the question. Eagleburger tried to put this perception to a rest, however, emphasizing to Kittani the administration’s firm support for the line (see March 15, 1984). The door is not yet closed to ExIm or other USG [US government] financial assistance to this project….” At the very end of the cable, it is noted that “Iraq officials have professed to be at a loss to explain our actions as measured against our stated objectives. As with our CW statement, their temptation is to give up rational analysis and retreat to the line that US policies are basically anti-Arab and hostage to the desires of Israel.” [US Department of State, 3/24/1984 pdf file; Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: George Shultz, Donald Rumsfeld, Lawrence Eagleburger, Elda James, Esq.

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

A UN investigation concludes that Iraq has been using mustard gas laced with a nerve agent on Iranian soldiers. “[C]hemical weapons in the form of aerial bombs have been used in the areas inspected in Iraq by the specialists,” the report says. [American Gulf War Veterans Association, 9/10/2001; Common Dreams, 8/2/2002; Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: United Nations

Donald Rumsfeld travels to Baghdad to meet with Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz. While in Iraq, Rumsfeld discusses the proposed Iraq-Jordan Aqaba pipeline [to be built by Bechtel (see December 2, 1983)], relays an Israeli offer to help Iraq in its war against Iran, and expresses the Reagan administration’s hope that Iraq will obtain Export-Import Bank credits. [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; American Gulf War Veterans Association, 9/10/2001; Common Dreams, 8/2/2002; Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Tariq Aziz, Reagan administration, Donald Rumsfeld

During a meeting in Jordan, Iraqi diplomat Kizam Hamdoon and US diplomat James Placke discuss a proposed draft resolution that Iran presented to the UN Security Council (see Mid-March 1984) calling on the international body to condemn Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. Hamdoon tells Placke that Iraq would prefer a Security Council presidential statement in lieu of a resolution, adding that the statement should (1) “mention former resolutions of the war”; (2) include a “strong call for progress toward ending the war through ceasefire or negotiations”; and (3) not identify any specific country as responsible for chemical weapons use. Placke says that he will honor the request but asks that Iraq halt its purchasing of chemical weapons from US suppliers so as not to “embarrass” the US. Placke also warns that the US would be implementing licensing requirements on five chemical compounds for both Iraq and Iran. Placke says that the US does not want to be the “source of supply for anything that could contribute to the production of CW,” but adds reassuringly that the US does “not want this issue to dominate our bilateral relationship.” [US Department of State, 4/6/1984 pdf file; Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Kizam Hamdoon, United Nations, James Placke

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The United Nations Security Council issues a presidential statement condemning the use of chemical weapons without a specific reference to Iraq, despite Iran’s insistence that the Security Council pass a binding resolution condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran. Interestingly, the previous day (see March 29, 1984), Iraqi diplomat Kizam Hamdoon and US diplomat James Placke had met and Hamdoon had stated Iraq’s preference that no resolution be passed and that any statement avoid referring directly to Iraq. As a State Department memo by James Placke notes, “The statement, by the way contains all three elements Hamdoon wanted.” [US Department of State, 3/30/1984 pdf file; Battle, 2/25/2003]

Entity Tags: Kizam Hamdoon, United Nations, James Placke

During a State Department press conference, reporters raise the issue of US relations with Iraq and the latter’s use of chemical weapons. A reporter asks, “Has there been any export of these chemicals [referring to agents used for the production of chemical weapons] from the US to Iran or Iraq at all in the past, in the recent past?” The spokesperson responds, “No, we do not have reason to believe that exports from the United States have been used by either Iran or Iraq in this connection.” Later in the press briefing, a reporter asks, “In light of your finding that Iraq has used nerve gas and/or other forms of chemical warfare, does this have any effect on US recent initiatives to expand commercial relationships with Iraq across a broad range, and also a willingness to open diplomatic relations?” The spokesperson answers, “No. I’m not aware of any change in our position. We’re interested in being involved in a closer dialogue with Iraq.” [US Department of State, 3/31/1984 pdf file]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US President Ronald Reagan issues presidential directive NSDD 139, titled, “Measures to improve US posture and readiness to respond to developments in the Iran-Iraq War.” The directive stresses the importance of ensuring US access to military facilities in the Gulf region and preventing “an Iraqi collapse.” Though the directive says that the US should maintain its policy of “unambiguous” condemnation of chemical warfare—without mentioning Iraq—the document also emphasizes that the US should “place equal stress on the urgent need to dissuade Iran from continuing the ruthless and inhumane tactics which have characterized recent offensives.” The directive does not suggest ending or reducing US support for Iraq. [US Department of State, 3/30/1984 pdf file; Battle, 2/25/2003]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Representatives from Bell Helicopter meet with Department of State officials in the Baghdad interests section to discuss a possible deal with Iraq involving the sale of 20-25 helicopters to Iraq’s Ministry of Defense. A State Department document summarizing the meeting says that the “Bell reps are fully aware that any helicopters they sell the Iraqis can not be in any way configured for military use.” [US Department of State, 3/1984 pdf file; Washington Post, 12/15/1986]

Entity Tags: Bell Helicopter, US Department of State

A Department of State memo from the special adviser to the secretary on nonproliferation policy and nuclear energy affairs titled “US Dual-Use Exports to Iraq: Specific Actions,” states that the government is reviewing its policy for “the sale of certain categories of dual-use items to Iraqi nuclear entities” and the review’s “preliminary results favor expanding such trade to include Iraqi nuclear entities.” [Department of State, 5/9/1984 pdf file]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Bechtel official H.B. Scott informs his colleagues in a memo that “US government officials at the highest level in Washington know of the [Aqaba pipeline] project and the president supports the concept…. I cannot emphasize enough the need for maximum Bechtel management effort at all levels of the US government and industry to support this project. It has significant geopolitical overtones… The time may be right for this project to move promptly with very significant rewards to Bechtel for having made it possible.” [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: H.C. Clark, Bechtel

On June 12, Charles Hill, the executive secretary to Secretary of State George Shultz, sends a confidential memo to Vice President George Bush. The memo suggests that Bush telephone William Draper, the chairman of the US Export-Import Bank, and press for the bank to agree to finance the construction of an oil pipeline from Iraq into Aqaba, Jordan (see January 14, 1984). The bank had previously refused to extend any credit to Iraq for the pipeline, holding that the war-ravaged nation could not meet the bank’s legal requirement of providing a “reasonable assurance of repayment.” Bush went to Yale with Draper; that and his position in the White House makes him an ideal person to influence Draper. Bush is to use the “talking point” prepared for him, that the loan affects the US’s vital interests, and the US’s primary goal in the Iran-Iraq War is “to bring the war to a negotiated end in which neither belligerent is dominant.” The pipeline is key to accomplishing a negotiated peace, Bush is told to argue: “At present time, Iran is the intransigent party, unwilling to negotiate in part because it believes it can win in a war of attrition. We must therefore seek a means to bolster Iraq’s ability and resolve to withstand Iranian attacks as well as to convince Iran that continuing hostilities are useless.” Bush makes the call, and Draper immediately reverses his position on financing the pipeline. Because of an inability to obtain insurance, the pipeline will never be built, but Bush’s pressuring of Draper may be his first active role in the covert US policy of supporting Iraq. [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: William Draper, Export-Import Bank, George Herbert Walker Bush, Charles Hill

The Export-Import Bank approves a preliminary commitment of $484.5 million in loan guarantees for the Iraq-Jordan Aqaba pipeline project (see Mid-June, 1984). This commitment will remain in effect until 1986. [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Export-Import Bank

The CIA establishes a direct intelligence link with Iraq. [Washington Post, 12/15/1986]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency

A Defense Intelligence Agency report concludes that Iraq will probably “continue to develop its formidable conventional and chemical capability, and probably pursue nuclear weapons.” [US Department of State, 3/31/1984 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Defense Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The Reagan and Bush administrations’ Commerce Departments allow US companies and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to export chemical and biological agents as well as other dual-use items to Iraq, despite the country’s known record of using chemical weapons. According to government regulations, the Commerce Department must send applications for export licenses which involve items related to national security to the appropriate US government agencies for review. Reviewing agencies include the State Department, Department of Defense, Energy Department, and Subgroup on Nuclear Export Coordination. But in many cases, the Commerce Department either does not send national security-related applications to these agencies for review, or if it does, it overrides a review agency’s recommendation not to grant a license, allowing the item to be exported anyway. [Timmerman, 1991, pp. 202, 410; Jentleson, 1994, pp. 79] According to two Senate Committee Reports that will be completed in 1994, one on May 25 and another on October 7, dual-use chemical and biological agents exported to Iraq from the US significantly contributed to the country’s weapons arsenal. The initial May report will say the agents “were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction” and the October report will reveal that the “microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program.” The 1994 investigation also determines that other exports such as plans and equipment also contributed significantly to Iraq’s military capabilities. “UN inspectors had identified many United States manufactured items that had been exported from the United States to Iraq under licenses issued by the Department of Commerce, and established] that these items were used to further Iraq’s chemical and nuclear weapons development and its missile delivery system development program,” Donald Riegle, the chairman of the committee, will explain. He also says that between January 1985 and August 1990, the “executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licenses for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq.” [US Congress, 5/25/1994; US Congress, 5/25/1994; US Congress, 10/7/1994; CounterPunch, 8/20/2002; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002; London Times, 12/31/2002]
Biological and chemical agents -
bullet Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
bullet Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin. It was sold to Iraq right up until 1992. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
bullet Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord and heart. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002]
bullet Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
bullet Clotsridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness, gas gangrene. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
bullet Clostridium tetani, highly toxigenic. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002; Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
bullet Also, Escherichia Coli (E.Coli); genetic materials; human and bacterial DNA. [CounterPunch, 8/20/2002]
bullet VX nerve gas. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
bullet Pralidoxine, an antidote to nerve gas which can also be reverse engineered to create actual nerve gas. This was sold to Iraq in March 1992, after the end of the Gulf War. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]
Other exports -
bullet Chemical warfare-agent production facility plans and technical drawings. [Newsday, 12/13/2002]
bullet Chemical warfare filling equipment. [Newsday, 12/13/2002]
bullet Missile fabrication equipment. [Newsday, 12/13/2002]
bullet Missile system guidance equipment. [Newsday, 12/13/2002]
bullet Graphics terminals to design and analyze rockets. [Washington Post, 3/11/1991]
bullet Machine tools and lasers to extend ballistic missile range. [US Congress, 7/2/1991]
bullet Computers to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. [US Congress, 7/2/1991]
bullet $1 million in computers, flight simulators and other technology products that went to Saad 16 research center in Iraq (see November 1986). [Washington Post, 3/11/1991]

Entity Tags: Bush administration (41), Reagan administration, Donald Riegle, US Department of Commerce, US Congress

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The Reagan administration formally restores diplomatic relations with Iraq. The US had broken off relations with Iraq in 1967. Administration officials, who are already involved in secretly supplying military aid to Iraq for use against Iran (see October 1983), ignore allegations that Iraq is using lethal chemical weapons against Iranian troops, including mustard gas and fungal poisons. Administration officials will later claim that no one had any idea that those allegations were true, but according to a government official, the administration has indeed known of the Iraqis’ use of chemical weapons for over a year by this time. Officials have privately chided Iraq for its use of such weapons, but Reagan officials continue to press forward with the administration’s agenda of increased economic and military cooperation even though the Iraqis ignore the US’s protests against the use of chemical weapons. [New York Times, 3/6/1984; New Yorker, 11/2/1992; Battle, 2/25/2003]

Entity Tags: Reagan administration

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US Secretary of State George Shultz successfully convinces Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) to drop a House bill that would have put Iraq back on the State Department’s list of states that sponsor terrorism. Shultz’s argument is that the United States is actively engaged in “diplomatic dialogue on this and other sensitive issues.” He asserts that “Iraq has effectively distanced itself from international terrorism” and insists that if the US discovers any evidence implicating Iraq in the support of terrorist groups, the US government “would promptly return Iraq to the list.” [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 54]

Entity Tags: George Shultz, Howard Berman

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Several current and former top US officials—including Attorney General Edwin Meese; National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane; former Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Defense, and Director of the CIA James Schlesinger; and former Secretary of Interior; national security adviser, and deputy secretary of state Judge William B. Clark—attempt to make arrangements that will provide security and insurance for the proposed Iraq-Jordan Aqaba pipeline in order to obtain Iraqi approval for the project. They go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy the preconditions Iraq has set for the pipeline, including bribing Israeli Labor officials in exchange for assurances that Israel would not attack the pipeline and pushing the US government-backed Overseas Private Investment Fund and Citibank to provide a political-risk insurance fund with up to $400 million in coverage. Iraq and Jordan ultimately refuse the deal explaining that the plan “does not meet specific requirements of the Project and does not satisfy our objectives.” [Vallette, 3/24/2003]

Entity Tags: Robert C. McFarlane, Export-Import Bank, Edwin Meese, James R. Schlesinger, William B. Clark

Christopher Drogoul of the Atlanta branch of the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro begins embezzling funds to Iraq. The funds consist of government backed loans meant for agricultural purposes as well as unreported loans that have been made in secret. While roughly half the funds will be used by Saddam Hussein’s government to purchase agricultural goods, the remainder will be used to “supply Iraqi missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs with industrial goods such as computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods.” Additionally, the money spent on agriculture will allow Saddam Hussein’s regime to divert a significant portion of its own funds to the task of weapons development. [US Congress, 4/28/1992; Columbia Journalism Review, 3/1993] Between 1985 and 1989 roughly $5 billion makes its way to Iraq from the US. Internal government memos reveal that both the Federal Reserve and Department of Agriculture suspect that Iraq is using these funds inappropriately. Iraq eventually defaults on the government-backed loans, leaving US taxpayers with $2 billion dollars in unpaid debts. [Mother Jones, 1/1993; Columbia Journalism Review, 3/1993]

Entity Tags: Christopher Drogoul, Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro

1986

US President Ronald Reagan sends a secret message to Saddam Hussein recommending that he order his military to intensify its air attacks against Iran. The message is delivered by Vice President Bush who conveys the message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who in turn passes it on to Saddam Hussein. The talking points for Bush’s meeting with Mubarak are authored by national security aide Howard Teicher. [Affidavit. United States v. Carlos Cardoen, et al. [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany illegally provided a proscribed substance, zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], 1/31/1995 pdf file; MSNBC, 8/18/2002]

Entity Tags: Hosni Mubarak, Howard Teicher, George Herbert Walker Bush, Saddam Hussein, Ronald Reagan

The Central Intelligence Agency authors a classified report acknowledging that Iraq is still using chemical weapons as an “integral part” of its military strategy and that it is a “regular and recurring tactic.” [New York Times, 2/13/2003]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sends “samples of a strain of West Nile virus to a microbiologist at a university in Basra.” [Associated Press, 12/21/2002]

Entity Tags: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sends samples of botulinum toxin and botulinum toxiod “directly to the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons complex at al-Muthanna.” [Associated Press, 12/21/2002]

Iraq uses poison gas in an unsuccessful attempt to recapture the Fao Peninsula from Iran. A UN team examines the bodies of 700 Iranian casualties which indicate that mustard and nerve gases were used. [Nation, 8/26/2002]

Entity Tags: United Nations

Ronald Reagan secretly authorizes Saudi Arabia to transfer US-origin bombs to Iraq, in an attempt to induce the Iraqis to make more effective use of their air force against the Iranians. Reagan officials also encourage the Saudis to provide Iraq with British fighter planes. Saudi Arabia shortly transfers 1,500 MK-84 bombs to Iraq, but the Iraqis will, in the US view, fail to use them effectively. [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan, Reagan administration

May 2, 1986: US Ships Toxins to Iraq Ministry

Two batches each of bacillus anthracis and bacterium clostridium botulinum are shipped from the US to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]

CIA Director William Casey introduces a plan to break the stalled arms-for-hostages deal with Iran that has been moribund for over a month (see Late May, 1986). Like his boss President Ronald Reagan, Casey has a powerful Cold War mentality and a love of covert operations; like Reagan, Casey believes that building relations with Iran is a way to counter Soviet expansionism. Casey’s plan appears on the agenda of a meeting of the Contingency Pre-Planning Group (CPPG), an inter-agency committee consisting of mid-level representatives of the National Security Council, the Departments of State and Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA. The meeting focuses on Iraq’s failures in its long, dismal war against Iran. Casey believes that if Iraq escalates its air attacks on Iran, Iran will need more and more arms from the US, and that will force it to conclude the stalled arms-for-hostages deal on favorable terms. And Casey, ever the espionage aficionado, is playing the two opposing factions—one pro-Iran, one pro-Iraq—within the administration (see January 14, 1984) against one another, according to two CIA aides who work closely with him. Those aides, who speak to reporters in 1992 after leaving the agency, will say he even keeps some White House officials ignorant of the “double nature of his plan.” In furthering his own murky strategies, Casey is also enlisting the support of State and Defense Department officials who fear an imminent Iranian victory. Casey believes that the war will continue as a stalemate for several years, but he deliberately slants his intelligence assessments to paint a graver picture of Iraq’s imminent defeat (Iraq’s fortunes in the war are grim enough to require little embellishment).
CPPG Unable To Find Solutions for Iraq - The CPPG is tasked with shoring up the US’s commercial and financial relationships with Iraq, a chore for which the group cannot find an immediate solution. The CPPG has also considered using Jordan as a conduit for arms to Iraq, similar to the way Israel has served as a conduit for US arms to Iran (see 1981), but the group rejects that idea because, according to a memo from the meeting, “any such transfer has to be notified to the Congress and thus made public.”
Iraq's Antiquated War Strategies - The group finally discusses a matter that plays into Casey’s plan, Iraq’s failure to fight the war in a modern fashion. Iraq uses its powerful air force extremely poorly, at times seemingly afraid to commit planes on missions that might put a single aircraft at risk. Former ambassador Richard Murphy will say of Iraq, “The Iraqis were fighting the way Germans might have in the First World War. They were good at holding a defense line, which is useful in holding back the human waves of Iranians. But when it came to their air force they were inept. On bombing missions, in particular, the Iraqis were so afraid to lose planes that they often didn’t undertake missions, and when they did they did only things that were safe.” Reagan has already issued secret authorizations for Saudi Arabia to transfer US-origin bombs to Iraq, to induce it to use its air force more effectively (see February 1986), to little avail. Now the CPPG says that Vice President George Bush might help out; Bush is making a trip to the Middle East as Reagan’s “peace envoy” (see July 23, 1986). The CPPG decides that Bush might suggest to Jordan’s King Hussein and Egypt’s President Mubarak that the two “sustain their efforts to convey our shared views to Saddam regarding Iraq’s use of its air resources.” The CPPG is not sanguine about the likelihood of Bush’s success, considering the distrust Saddam Hussein maintains for the US. The CPPG recommends that the White House send “a senior US emissary” to confer directly with Hussein; the CPPG is apparently unaware that Casey has already spoken privately with Bush and asked him to meet in secret with Hussein (see July 23, 1986). [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: Reagan administration, Hosni Mubarak, George Herbert Walker Bush, Contingency Pre-Planning Group, Central Intelligence Agency, Hussein bin Talal, National Security Council, US Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Department of State, William Casey, Richard W. Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Saddam Hussein

Timeline Tags: Iran-Contra Affair

The CIA establishes “a direct, top-secret Washington-Baghdad link to provide the Iraqis with better and more timely satellite information.” As a result, “The Iraqis receive the information from satellite photos ‘several hours’ after… bombing raid[s]…. ” The US-provided intelligence information is considered “vital” to Iraqi military strategy. [Washington Post, 12/15/1986]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency

Vice-President George H. W. Bush returns from his trip to the Middle East, where he has passed along a message to Iraq to step up its air war against Iran (see July 23, 1986). The covert machinations nearly become public knowledge when US embassy officials in Saudi Arabia, learning of the Saudi transfer of US arms to Iraq earlier in the year (see February 1986), question the Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar. Bandar, fully aware of the arms transfer, tells the officials that the transfer was “accidental” and the amount of arms transferred was negligible. The State Department is also curious about the transfer, warns that the arms transfer violates the Arms Export Control Act, and says it must inform Congress of the transfer. Such a notification would endanger the entire process, and possibly short-circuit another arms deal in the works, a $3.5 billion transfer of five AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, of which Congress has already been informed. But after the White House notifies the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar (R-IN), and mollifies Lugar by telling him the arms sales to Iraq were “inadvertent,” “unauthorized,” and involved only a “small quantity of unsophisticated weapons,” Lugar agrees to keep silent about the matter. Another senator later approaches Lugar about rumors that Saudi Arabia is sending US arms to Iraq, and recalls that “Dick Lugar told me there was nothing to it, and so I took his word.” [New Yorker, 11/2/1992]

Entity Tags: US Department of State, George Herbert Walker Bush, Richard Lugar, Bandar bin Sultan

CIA Director William J. Casey meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Nizar Hamdoon, to make sure the new Washington-Baghdad intelligence link (see August 1986) is helping the Iraqis and to encourage more attacks on Iranian economic targets. [Washington Post, 12/15/1986 Sources: Unnamed sources with first hand knowledge]

Entity Tags: William Casey, Central Intelligence Agency, Kizam Hamdoon, Tariq Aziz

Terry Waite.Terry Waite. [Source: BBC]Negotiations between Iran and the US for more arms sales hit another snag, with the Iranians merely releasing some American hostages and kidnapping more (see September 19, 1986). CIA Director William Casey decides to reprise the earlier strategy of exhorting Iraq to escalate its air strikes against Iran, thus forcing Iran to turn to the US for more military aid (see July 23, 1986). Casey secretly meets with two high-level Iraqi officials, Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Iraq’s ambassador to the US, Nizaar Hamdoon, to urge that the Iraqis once again intensify their bombing runs deep into Iranian territory. The Iraqis comply. But the Iranians’ return to the bargaining table is complicated by the October 5 shooting down of a CIA transport plane in Nicaragua, and the capture by the Sandinistas of the lone survivor, a cargo hauler named Eugene Hasenfus, who tells his captors of the US involvement with the Nicaraguan Contras (see October 5, 1986). Soon after, the Iranians release a single American hostage, but the Hasenfus revelation is followed by that of the Iran-US arms-for-hostages deals by a Lebanese newspaper, Al Shiraa (see November 3, 1986), and similar reports by US news organizations. With the public now aware of these embarrassing and potentially criminal acts by the Reagan administration, support for Iran within the administration collapses, most of the pro-Iranian officials leave government service, and the pro-Iraqi wing of the executive branch, led by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz, wins out. The closing months of the Reagan administration will feature a marked tilt towards Iraq in the war between Iraq and Iran. The Reagan administration will, in coming months, provide Iraq with a remarkable amount of military and economic aid, including technology to develop long-range ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, and even nuclear weapons. [New Yorker, 11/2/1992] Interestingly, one of the terrorist groups holding American hostages, the Islamic Jihad Organization (a group closely affiliated with Hezbollah and not the group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri), who released American captive David Jacobson in early November, urged the US to “proceed with current approaches that could lead, if continued, to a solution of the hostages issue.” Reagan officials publicly deny that anyone in the US government has made any “approaches” to Iran or anyone else. As a side note, the release of Jacobson also shows the efforts of Terry Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury and a former hostage himself, to facilitate the release of the hostages in a different light. Waite’s untiring efforts have obviously been sincere, but never as effective as publicly portrayed. Instead, both the US and Iran have used Waite’s efforts as cover for their secret negotiations. One Israeli official calls Waite’s efforts the “cellophane wrapping” around the hostage releases. He says: “You cannot deliver a gift package unwrapped. That is why there will be no more hostage releases until he returns to the region.” (Waite has temporarily suspended his attempts to free the hostages, complaining about being used as a pawn in international power games.) [Time, 11/17/1986]

Entity Tags: Terry Waite, William Casey, Reagan administration, George Shultz, Islamic Jihad Organization, David Jacobson, Caspar Weinberger, Al Shiraa, Nizaar Hamdoon, Eugene Hasenfus, Hezbollah

Timeline Tags: Iran-Contra Affair

Map showing the strike radii of various Iraqi ballistic missiles.Map showing the strike radii of various Iraqi ballistic missiles. [Source: CIA] (click image to enlarge)US intelligence learns that Iraq’s Saad 16 research center is attempting to develop ballistic missiles. This information is relayed by the Defense Department’s Undersecretary for Trade Security Policy, Stephen Bryen, to the Commerce Department’s (CD) Assistant Secretary for Trade Administration. In spite of this, the Commerce Department will subsequently approve more than $1 million in computer sales to the Iraqi research center over the next four years. In 1991, the House Committee on Government Operations will report that 40 percent of the equipment at the Saad 16 research center had come from the US. [Washington Post, 3/11/1991; US Congress, 7/2/1991]

Entity Tags: US Department of Commerce, Stephen Bryen

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

US President Ronald Reagan says in a speech with regard to the Iran-Iraq war: “The slaughter on both sides has been enormous, and the adverse economic and political consequences for that vital region of the world have been growing. We sought to establish communications with both sides in that senseless struggle, so that we could assist in bringing about a cease-fire and, eventually, a settlement. We have sought to be evenhanded by working with both sides… We have consistently condemned the violence on both sides.” [Washington Post, 12/15/1986]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan

Shortly after the Iran-Contra scandal is first revealed in the press, CIA Director William J. Casey meets with Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Nizar Hamdoon, a second time (see October 1986) and assures him that the new Washington-Baghdad intelligence link (see August 1986) will remain open. [Washington Post, 12/15/1986]

Entity Tags: William Casey, Central Intelligence Agency, Kizam Hamdoon

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Iran-Contra Affair

The United Nations dispatches experts to the conflict zone on a mission that documents Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 76]

Entity Tags: United Nations

Neoconservative academics and authors Laurie Mylroie and Daniel Pipes write an article for the New Republic entitled “Back Iraq: Time for a US Tilt in the Mideast.” Mylroie and Pipes argue that the US must publicly embrace Saddam Hussein’s secular dictatorship as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalism of Iran. Backing Iraq “could lay the basis for a fruitful relationship” that would benefit US and Israeli interests, they write. They believe Washington should move to a closer relationship with Hussein because Iraq holds a more moderate view of Israel and the US than other countries in the Middle East. “The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar.” Mylroie and Pipes argue not just for weapons sales to Iraq, but for the US to share intelligence with that nation: “The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad.” Mylroie and Pipes are apparently uninterested in the stories of Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against both Iranians and his own citizens (see March 5, 1984, March 1988, and August 25, 1988). After the 9/11 attacks, Mylroie will change her opinion and join the call for Hussein’s overthrow, blaming him for a raft of terror attacks going back to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (see 1990, October 2000, and September 12, 2001). [New Republic, 4/27/1987 pdf file; CounterPunch, 8/13/2003; Isikoff and Corn, 2006, pp. 68]

Entity Tags: Laurie Mylroie, Daniel Pipes

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Neoconservative Influence

USS ‘Stark’ after being struck by Iraqi missile.USS ‘Stark’ after being struck by Iraqi missile. [Source: US Department of Defense]Two missiles from an Iraqi F-1 Mirage warplane strike the USS Stark, killing 37 of the sailors aboard. The frigate is a member of a US naval task force sent to the Persian Gulf to keep the Gulf open for shipping during the Iran-Iraq War. The Iraqi fighter locks weapons on the Stark three minutes before firing; the commander of the ship refuses to issue the standard “back off” warning to the Iraqi pilot. The first missile bores deep into the ship but fails to explode; the second missile explodes, incinerating the crew’s quarters, the radar room, and the combat information center. The ship burns for two days. [PBS, 2000; Peniston, 2006, pp. 61-63]
Diverting Blame onto Iran - The Pentagon later claims that the Stark indeed warned the fighter pilot not to approach. Iraq quickly apologizes for the attack. The US continues to patrol the Gulf, and continues its program of re-registering Kuwaiti oil tankers under the American flag in order to protect them from Iranian attacks. A diplomat says that given the scale of casualties in the incident, the American public is going to start asking “what the hell is the US doing in the Gulf?” Iran calls the attack on the Stark a “divine blessing.” US officials quickly divert blame for the attack on Iran, accepting an Iraqi explanation that the fighter pilot must have mistaken the US warship for an Iranian vessel. [Guardian, 5/19/1987]
Excusing Iraq, Punishing 'Stark' Commander - “We’ve never considered them hostile at all,” says President Reagan in regards to Iraq’s military. “They’ve never been in any way hostile.… And the villain in the piece is Iran.” Senator John Warner (R-VA), a former secretary of the Navy, denounces Iran as “a belligerent that knows no rules, no morals.” Fellow senator John Glenn (D-OH) calls Iran “the sponsor of terrorism and the hijacker of airliners.” Iraq later determines that the Stark was in its so-called “forbidden zone,” and refuses to produce the pilot for any disciplinary action. The only punishment for the attack is suffered by the captain of the Stark, Glenn Brindel, who is relieved of his command, and his executive officer, who is punished for “dereliction of duty.” [TomDispatch (.com), 5/3/2007]
Lawsuits Dismissed - Two wrongful death lawsuits arising from the attacks will later be dismissed due to the “state secrets” privilege (see June 13, 1991 and September 16, 1992).

Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, US Department of the Navy, Glenn Brindel, John Glenn, John W. Warner, Ronald Reagan

August 31, 1987: US Sends Biotoxins to Iraq

One batch each of salmonella and E coli is sent to the Iraqi State Company for Drug Industries with the approval of the US Department of Commerce. [Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 9/8/2002]

Entity Tags: US Department of Commerce

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The US provides Baghdad with $500 million in credits to buy American farm products. [Wall Street Journal, 7/10/2002]

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

1988: US Increases Intelligence For Iraq

The US increases the amount of military intelligence it provides Iraq, a significant portion of which is channeled to the Iraqis through the CIA’s Baghdad office. [Washington Post, 12/30/2002]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

Iraq uses chemical weapons to retake the Fao Peninsula. After the attacks, Lt. Col. Rick Francona, an American defense intelligence officer, is dispatched to the battlefield where he meets with Iraqi officers. According to a New York Times report, Francona “reported that Iraq had used chemical weapons to cinch its victory…. [He] saw zones marked off for chemical contamination, and containers for the drug atropine scattered around, indicating that Iraqi soldiers had taken injections to protect themselves from the effects of gas that might blow back over their positions.” [New York Times, 8/18/2002]

Entity Tags: New York Times, Rick Francona

The US Commerce Department allows the export of equipment to Iraq for its SCUD missile program, allowing the Iraqis to increase the range of its SCUD missiles. [US Congress, 7/2/1991]

Entity Tags: US Department of Commerce

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

According to several accounts, Iraq uses US-supplied Bell helicopters to deploy chemical weapons during its campaign to recapture lost territories in its war with Iran. One of the towns that is within the conflict zone is the Kurdish village of Halabja, with a population of about 70,000. Between 3,200 and 5,000 Halabja civilians are reportedly killed by poison gas (see August 25, 1988). Other accounts, however, suggest that Iranian gas is responsible for the attack on Halabja, a version that is promoted by the Reagan administration in order to divert the blame away from Iraq. Some believe the US version of the Halabja massacre is “cooked up in the Pentagon.” A declassified State Department document “demonstrate[s] that US diplomats received instructions to press this line with US allies, and to decline to discuss the details.” [US Department of the Navy, 12/10/1990; Los Angeles Times, 2/13/1991; Washington Post, 3/11/1991; International Herald Tribune, 1/17/2003; New York Times, 1/31/2003]

Entity Tags: Bell Helicopter, Reagan administration

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The United Nations sends experts to the Iraq-Iran war conflict zone to document Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 76]

Entity Tags: United Nations

During a symposium hosted by the US-Iraq Business Forum, Assistant Secretary of State Peter Burleigh encourages US companies to do business in Iraq. The business forum reportedly has strong ties to Baghdad. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 84-85]

Entity Tags: Peter Burleigh, US Department of State

A US delegation travels to Turkey at the request of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and confirms that Iraq is “using chemical weapons on its Kurdish population.” [US Congress, 10/1988]

Entity Tags: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

The United Nations dispatches two delegations of experts to the conflict zone on a mission that documents Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 76]

Entity Tags: United Nations

Iraq reportedly uses chemical weapons against northern Iraqi Kurds. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 38]

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