Some Western analyses of the interaction between Iraq’s delivery systems and weapons of mass destruction focus on ballistic missiles. There are good reasons, however, why such a focus may be misleading. As has been noted earlier, Iraq must plan for theater-level war with Iran. Its actions since 1991 show that it is willing to make major deployments in the direction of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and it must understand that it cannot win a significant tactical or theater-level conflict with US-supported Southern Gulf forces using conventional arms.
Iraq began chemical warfare by using artillery, rocket launchers, helicopters, and aircraft. It knows it can sustain major forces using such weapons under the terms of the UN cease-fire accords, and that it faces serious near to mid-term difficulties in acquiring and deploying ballistic missiles with ranges in excess of 150 kilometers. Further, Iraq has to understand that covert or proxy attacks offer it significant advantages in terms of cost and deniability.
Iraq made massive use of artillery weapons and multiple rocket launchers from 1982 onward during the Iran-Iraq War. It initially used such weapons in massed fire with conventional rounds to defend against Iranian mass infantry attacks. As is discussed later, in the section on chemical weapons, it slowly expanded its ability to fire mustard and then nerve gas. It used such fire to halt attacks, attack rear areas, provide area denial, panic Iranian forces, and support Iraqi offensive maneuvers. Iraq never developed the capability to rapidly maneuver artillery, rapidly shift fire, target effectively beyond visual range, and conduct complex combined operations, but its performance gradually became