Iraq and the War of Sanctions: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview
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Chapter 15

Iraq’s Missile Capabilities

It is as dangerous to discount Iraq’s interest in missiles as it is to discount its possible use of other delivery systems. Table 11.1 has shown that Iraq has invested billions of dollars in importing missiles and creating missile production facilities. It has also conducted two major missile wars. The first was during the Iran-Iraq War, where Iran initiated large-scale ballistic missile attacks, but which Iraq dominated by developing extended-range missiles and firing them at far greater rates than Iran could match. Iraq fired a total of 516 Scud and Improved Scud missiles during that conflict. The second missile war took place during the Gulf War, when Iraq fired a total of 93 long-range missiles. The types that have been identified include 84 Al-Husayns, 3 Al Husyan-Shorts, and 1 Al-Hijrarah (with a cement warhead). 1

There are severe limits on Iraq’s current missile capabilities. Its previous missile firings depended on Iraq’s ability to import the Scud B before the Gulf War and the massive missile modification and production effort it began during the Iran-Iraq War. UNSCOM has almost certainly been successful in locating and destroying most of these missiles and production capabilities. While Iraq seems to retain some of its long-range Scuds, launchers, and support equipment to reconstitute a small missile force, UNSCOM is still seeking to track down and destroy all of these systems, but it feels it has accounted for 817 of the 819 missiles Iraq imported up to 1988, although Iraq may have produced additional missiles in Iraq. Iraq is unlikely to retain a breakout capability in excess of 10–20 missiles, and it will take some years once sanctions are lifted for Iraq to rebuild its production facilities. 2 Desert Fox damaged Iraq’s missile production capabilities enough to delay production by anywhere from six months to two years.

At the same time, Iraq can probably still deploy a limited number of extended range Scud missiles, possibly with chemical or biological warheads. It may well

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