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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 610-01
December 03, 2001

KUWAITI AMMO SUPPLY POINT ASSESSMENT REAFFIRMED AS "UNLIKELY"

The Department of Defense released today the final version of its case narrative, "Fox Detections in an ASP/Orchard." Originally published in 1997, this final report concludes the investigation into reports of possible chemical warfare agent detections in an ammunition supply point in an orchard southwest of Kuwait City, Kuwait. Investigators working for the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments, reaffirm their original assessment that it is unlikely that chemical weapons or chemical warfare agents were stored at the ammunition supply point.

This assessment is based on examination of the available evidence, interviews of key U.S. Marine Corps and civilian personnel involved, as well as information from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq and the U.S. intelligence community. These organizations found no evidence that Iraq had moved chemical warfare agents or chemical weapons into Kuwait. Investigators believe the Fox MM-1 Mobile Mass Spectrometer alerts most probably were caused by contaminants from the battlefield, the orchard, and/or a nearby industrial facility.

Then-U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. George Grass, a nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist provided a statement for an U.S. Marines Corps' investigation on behalf of an ill Marine who suspected his illnesses to be the result of chemical warfare exposure during the Gulf War. Grass, who was also a Fox nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance vehicle commander, testified before the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses in May 1996 and, again in May 1997, about several suspected chemical weapons incidents during the Gulf War. Grass's testimony included information about specific Fox MM-1 mobile mass spectrometer alerts for chemical warfare agents, including three at an ammunition supply point located southwest of Kuwait City.

On Feb. 28, 1991, a Fox vehicle commanded by Grass inspected an ammunition supply point located southwest of Kuwait International Airport. While inspecting the site, the Fox crew reported their MM-1 detected the possible presence of three chemical warfare agents. The MM-1 operator printed tapes of the three alerts. Grass gave the tapes to a senior officer, who, in turn, reported up the chain of command through the 1st Marine Division to U.S. Central Command.

The following day, March 1, 1991, an explosive ordnance disposal team was dispatched to the ammunition supply point and thoroughly inspected the site. The team did not find any chemical weapons or evidence of chemical warfare agents. Additionally, no one who entered the ammunition supply point reported any symptoms of chemical warfare agent exposure.

After the war, ordnance-clearing teams were hired to rid Kuwait of munitions left by Iraq's occupying army. Teams of explosive ordnance experts dismantled the ammunition supply point and found no chemical weapons or chemical warfare agents.

The final "Fox Detections in the ASP/Orchard" case narrative, along with the all other publications produced by the special assistant, is posted on the GulfLINK Internet site at http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/asp_orch_ii / .