NEW YORK (Mar. 1)
Israel provided vital information that helped force an Iraqi official in 1995 to admit to developing biological weapons, according to The New York Times.
The Times published an investigation last week reporting that Israeli intelligence officials gave documents to United Nations Special Commission for Iraq, the United Nations inspections team that has been trying to uncover information about Iraq’s weapons programs.
Without the documents, U.N. inspectors might have been forced to give Baghdad a clean bill of health and abandon their weapons-inspection program.
By 1994, Unscom’s biological team had discovered the existence of a secretive Iraqi group known as the Technical and Scientific Materials Import Division, that appeared to supply a potential germ factory in Iraq.
But the team needed more information in order to pressure Iraq to abandon its denials regarding its production of biological weapons. So in December 1994, it wrote to a handful of nations, asking if they had any information about biological materials sales to Baghdad.
Intelligence experts cited by the Times say that Israel provided copies documenting sales of 10 tons of growth media in the 1980s from a British company named Oxoid to Iraq.
Growth media, which are used to feed and breed germs, have many legitimate uses in hospitals and clinics. But the large amount of the media imported by Iraq indicated that Iraq was using them to fill biological weapons.
Armed with this information, Unscom officials pressured Baghdad.
In a few months, their efforts paid off: In July 1995, Dr. Rihab Taha, the acknowledged leader of Baghdad’s civilian germ effort, admitted, for the first time, that Iraq had produced germs for biological warfare.