The Department of Defense today released its final report of events at the An Nasiriyah Southwest Ammunition Storage Point. The report, first published in July 1998, found it "unlikely" that chemical agents were released during the aerial bombardment and subsequent ground demolition activities at An Nasiriyah, Iraq. Since that time, the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses has received no new information that contradicts the material presented, and no new leads that might change the narrative's assessment. In addition, the Presidential Special Oversight Board reviewed the narrative and recommended republication as a final report.
In August 1998, the Defense Department reported that during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Iraq's An Nasiriyah Southwest Ammunition Storage Point (ASP) was a major Iraqi munitions depot. During the 1990-1991 period, the national intelligence community associated the storage of chemical or biological munitions with the types of bunkers found at An Nasiriyah: specifically, S-shaped bunkers. Five of these were struck by air-delivered ordnance and, by February 3, 1991, had been either heavily damaged or destroyed. The intelligence community now believes that the pre-war assessments of which bunker types were used to store chemical or biological munitions were inaccurate, and that during Desert Storm, the bunkers at the An Nasiriyah Southwest ASP probably did not contain chemical or biological munitions.
However, another type of bunker at An Nasiriyah may have contained mustard-filled artillery rounds at the time of the aerial bombing. In 1996, in accordance with United Nations Resolution 687, Iraq declared that more than 6,000 155mm mustard-filled artillery rounds had been stored in bunker number eight at An Nasiriyah from approximately January 15, 1991, to February 15, 1991. This bunker was not struck during the air campaign. Iraq stated that they moved the rounds to Khamisiyah, where they were recovered by the United Nations Special Committee on Iraq - UNSCOM -in October 1991.
Bunker number eight was searched by U.S. ground forces during the cease-fire and destroyed by demolition charges prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Explosive ordnance disposal experts, chemical technicians and engineers involved in demolition operations at this ammunition storage point told the Defense Department that they found neither chemical nor biological munitions.
Based on Iraq's disclosure, the results of the UNSCOM inspection of the An Nasiriyah ammunition storage point; the Special Assistant's review of theater operational reports, and the reports of the U.S. Intelligence Community, it is likely that chemical warfare agents were present in this ammunition storage point prior to U.S. occupation, but unlikely that chemical warfare agents were present in the complex while it was occupied by U.S. forces.
For more information on this or other Gulf War illnesses issues, see GulfLINK at http://www.gulflink.osd.mil .