In the 1970s and 1980s there were several indications about Saddam Hussein’s development of the WMD programs (biological, chemical and nuclear). The Israeli attack on the Iraqi French-made Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 slowed down the progress of the Iraq’s nuclear weapons program but the biological and chemical WMDs were highly developed, due to the Soviet assistance, Iraqi scientists and a sophisticated system of procurement, organized by the Iraqi Intelligence in Western Europe and in other parts of the World. The nuclear weapons program was never abandoned by the regime, and before the first Gulf War (1991) Iraq was very close to producing its own nuclear weapons. (There is some evidence that Saddam could have purchased nuclear technology from Pakistan, through Dr. Khan’s network, and that he has tried to buy nuclear weapons or components from China). The war destroyed the technical base for the production. But the highly skilled scientific and technical personnel (over 200) remained in place, dispersed. The regime managed to save their nuclear fuel, many technical means of production and the blueprints of the nuclear weaponization. The after-war international (UN) control proved ineffective. Iraq also saved an essential part of its biological and chemical warfare technology, materials and personnel. Some of the WMDs, materials, specialists from Iraq have been transferred abroad to continue research and to organize the production abroad: mainly to Sudan, Libya and Algeria but also to the neighboring Syria (with a purpose to strengthen Syrian regime’s offensive capabilities against Israel).
Saddam regime's WMD policy after the 1st Gulf War
The efforts of the Saddam’s regime to preserve and develop its biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons capabilities have been well documented in a report, submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives by Yossef Bodansky on February 10, 1998 (See: Task Force on Terrorism & Unconventional Warfare, "The Iraqi WMD Challenge — Myths and Reality"). From the very beginning, Saddam Hussein embarked on a policy of concealment and cheating of the UN inspection. Thus the elimination of the Iraqi strategic military programs and the destruction of their technical means have never been completed and fully effective. "Despite Baghdad’s protestations, Iraq does have a small but very lethal operational arsenal of WMD and platforms capable of delivering them throughout the Middle East and beyond." — summarized Yossef Bodansky in 1998 [page 2 of the report]. This capability was possible due to the following actions: (1) dispersing and hiding of WMD materials, technical means, blueprints for the production and personnel in Iraq proper; (2) transfer of a large part of the Iraqi WMD arsenal, technical means, materials for the production and scientific-technological personnel to other countries, mainly to Sudan, Libya and Algeria, and partly to Yemen and Syria; (3) reviving of the sophisticated system of illegal procurement of WMD technology, sub-systems and strategic materials in Western Europe (mainly Germany, Austria and Switzerland), via other countries (Bulgaria, Belarus, the Ukraine, Poland) and in Asia (Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, China).
Iraq was also capable to develop new types of offensive weapons, capable of carrying and dispersing bio and chemical WMDs (like a plastic-plywood drone, range 700 km, GPS navigation system, carrying 30-40 kilograms of bio or chemical warfare agents, launched from the ground, aircraft or from a ship).
The Bodansky report also concludes that the Saddam regime has signed agreements with Sudan, Libya, Algeria about common ventures in the developing of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. These were Saddam’s investments into the future, though his decisions were reluctant and taken under the pressure of the UN inspections and American bombing of Iraq’s "no fly" zones.
The role of the Russians
The first Gulf War (1991) proved a complete failure of the Soviet conventional weapons systems on the Iraqi battlefields. The Iraqi Army and Air Force had been crushed before they could make use of their WMDs (chemical, biological). The Russian-made SCUD missiles, launched against the Coalition forces and/or against Israel, proved inaccurate in aim and ineffective.
In spite of the huge indebtedness of the Iraqi regime to Russia (over US$ 8.0 billion), the Russian Government decided to invest a new service into the rebuilding of the Iraqi military forces by supplying large quantities of spare parts, components, air-defenses equipment, worth at least US$ 1.0 billion. Secret agreements, signed between the Iraqi Intelligence and the Russian GRU, provided for a "clean up" operation, conducted by Russian and Iraqi military personnel, to remove some WMDs, materials for production, technical documentation etc. from Iraq, so that the Saddam regime could announce that Iraq was "WMD free". This operation began after the 1991 Gulf War and lasted until weeks before the outbreak of the 2nd war (March 19-20, 2003).
Author's own experience with the Iraqi procurement of WMDs
In the early 1990s, the author witnessed a massive illegal "export" of previously top secret nuclear materials, components and weapon parts from Russia and other ex-USSR countries to intermediaries and "end users" in Europe, Asia and America. But no sooner than in Winter of 1992, he became involved in an international monitoring operation of these illegal deals. His decision to take part in it, was the result of a meeting in Jerusalem, in February 1992, with a longtime friend, an Israeli nuclear expert, the late Mr. Shalheveth Freier. One of the main routes of the illegal nuclear trade went through Poland to Germany, Austria, Britain, Switzerland, France and other countries of Western Europe. A number of nuclear (radioactive) materials was offered from the former USSR countries (including weapons-grade uranium and plutonium).
It was a very lucrative business for Russian and other military and intelligence people and for the mafia organizations.
At least two times, the author (posing as an international trader) has been approached by members of the Abu Nidal Organization (Palestinian terrorist group), who were looking for weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, as well as for a special Soviet explosive, named RM 20/20 (a product of the high pressure technology, used in nuclear warheads). These materials were available from Russia through intelligence and military connections, but the Russian contacts always demanded information on the potential "end users" of these products. The first contact was in 1993, and the Palestinian intermediaries were working for Iraq and Libya. The deal required a sophisticated logistic support and security arrangement. The Iraqi customer was ready to receive and purchase the Russian nuclear products in Western Europe (Austria, Switzerland) and the Libyan customer demanded that the stuff be shipped by air from Russia, directly to Libya. The Russians (GRU) were capable to carry out such an operation. Iraqi intelligence operatives would also use Jordanian intermediaries (Palestinians) and point to a false-flag "end user", like "the King of Saudi Arabia".
When a Polish security service began to trace the Abu Nidal’s envoys in Poland, they moved to Kiev in the Ukraine and continued their procurement of nuclear materials from Russia. A new transaction was scheduled for Spring of 1994, with a place of delivery in Switzerland. The author "coordinated" it from Paris, in France. Details about the Abu Nidal’s group were filed to Israel and to the CIA Station in Paris.
Another Palestinian (from al-Fatah) approached the author in 1996, looking for nuclear materials under "the King of Saudi Arabia" false flag. The source of the material was in Moscow, in a special military plant and laboratory. This time, the Russians could not easily organize the secret transport of goods abroad, due to the enhanced security measures in Russia and Poland. The author learned, later on, that the Palestinian intermediaries in Amman dealt with members of the Iraqi Intelligence. The connection was reported to a U.S. diplomatic contact. It was interesting, however, that the al-Fatah member was sent to the author by a former head of the Polish National Security Council (name withheld but known), who owned a joint venture company with an Iraqi national residing in Poland. Later on, his company got a squeeze from the Polish security and counter-intelligence agency (UOP) but nothing had been found, apart from evidence of the company’s efforts to obtain a license for military exports (which has been refused to it). The Russian side of the deal was the GRU, as previously. Was it a Polish or an Israeli "sting operation"?
There is no doubt, however, that (in accordance with the Yossef Bodansky report to the House, in 1998), the Saddam regime never resigned from searching for nuclear materials, in spite of the ever tighter controls imposed on Iraq by the UN inspectors.
But it is even more interesting that the author received a report (from Israel), after the 2d Gulf War, stating that the Iraqi regime had purchased a large quantity of RM 20/20 and some Russian ADM’s (Atomic Demolition Munitions). As to the RM 20/20, it might be transferred to Libya or to Syria. But the ADMs were under Spetsnaz control, and certainly were withdrawn by Russians from Iraq before March 19-20, 2003.
The Russian scenario for the Iraqi WMD withdrawal in 2003
Just five days after the beginning of the 2nd war in Iraq (after March 19-20,2003), the Russia’s Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, declared that Washington could fabricate evidence of Iraq allegedly hiding WMDs (…) to justify the US-led attack on Baghdad. Speaking before the Federation Council (Russian Upper House), Ivanov said: "Even if the American-British forces report that they have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the final assessment may be given only by international inspectors". [ Times of India, Wednesday, March 26, 2006 ].
It seems like Mr. Ivanov knew that the Coalition forces could not find any WMDs in Iraq, during or after the military operations. However, this is no proof.
Almost to the "last minute", before the Coalition invaded Saddam’s Iraq, the Russian Government tried to prevent the war and to stop the US-led attack on the Iraqi regime. The Russians could have blocked the United States, if the USG would put the final decision about the war into the hands of the members of the UN Security Council. But the USG decided to bypass the UN and strike first. President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military leaders decided to take preventive measures to avoid the blame in case the Coalition forces run into big depos of Russian-produced WMDs or components for their production, stored in Iraq. At the same time, saving their own face, they could accuse the Americans of "fabricating" WMD evidence as a "casus bellum".
The carefully planned Russian "cleaning up" operation was confided to the GRU (Military Intelligence), Spetsnaz (Special Troops) and Russian military and civilian logistic personnel in Iraq, under the command of two experienced ex-Soviet generals, Col.Gen. Vladislav Achalov and Col.Gen. Igor Maltsev, both retired and posing as civilian commercial consultants (see the bios of the generals and the pictures in the Appendix ).
From the original Russian report (Gazeta.ru, April 2,2003):
"The photos show Achalov and Maltsev receiving awards from Iraqi Defence Minister Sultan Hashim Akhmed. Another photo commemorating the event features the Russian generals in the company of the head of the General Staff of the Iraqi Army Izzat Ibragim and his deputies. On the photo published above the Iraqi official is standing between Achalov and Maltsev.
The ceremony was held ''less than 10 days before the beginning of the war'' in a building that was destroyed by US cruise missiles in the first few hours of air raids on Baghdad. What exactly the Soviet generals received their awards for, our source would not say.
(…) As to why the two Soviet generals received the top military awards of the Iraqi Republic on the eve of war, Vladislav Achalov would not say. He did remark, however, that he ''didn’t fly to Baghdad to drink coffee''.
Thus, one can only conjecture what role the Soviet generals have played in preparing the Iraqi army for the war. That their role was important is proved at least by the fact that both Achalov and Maltsev, as Gazeta.Ru has learnt, have visited Iraq no less than 20 times in the past 5-6 years.
(… ) Perhaps it is mere coincidence, but namely Igor Maltsev is rated as one of the best Russian experts in the sphere of operating air-defence systems, while Vladislav Achalov has extensive experience in the field of using rapid-reaction forces.
(…) Yet, Russia’s indirect participation in the training of the Iraqi army to repulse the US-led invasion (in effect, Iraq is using the unique experience of Russia’s top, albeit retired officers) is likely to significantly complicate relations between Moscow and Washington."
Several experts doubted whether the mission of the two Russian generals was to "prepare the Iraqi Army for the upcoming war". Saddam’s army was still shattered after the 1991 First Gulf War, and the Russians were selling to Iraq their routine military equipment, which proved inferior to the U.S. military gear. They could offer a more modern anti-aircraft radar, which played its role during the 2nd war. But perhaps the only way to defeat the Coalition forces in 2003 would be to use WMDs against them (chemical, biological, nuclear). No such weapons have been used during the 2003 Spring campaign and after. Russia wouldn’t risk her reputation by providing Saddam’s regime with the weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, it is very likely that the Russian generals and their military and civilian personnel were engaged in "cleaning operations", rather than in the "defense-building" military planning. When President Bush decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein, President Putin and his Government and Military Establishment must have realized that the war was to be lost for Saddam and for Russia, as his ally. A logical step to be taken was to deprive Saddam’s military forces of the WMD potential, which was truly useless as a part of the war machine. But at the time of the 2nd Gulf War (2003), most of the WMDs and materials for their production have been already removed from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon (and earlier to Sudan, Libya and Algeria), either by the Iraqis themselves (with the help of Syria) or by the Russians. The Russians probably did not participate in the evacuation of a greater part of the Iraqi WMD arsenal to Sudan, Libya and Algeria (via Jordan, by sea), as these evacuations were made by secret decisions of Saddam in the 1990s. But certainly they carried out the final cleaning, just weeks before the outbreak of the 2nd war against the Iraqi regime. The windfall from this Russian operation was mainly political (to undercut the U.S. Government’s rationale for going to the war to remove the Iraqi WMD threat). But the Russians also secured gains for themselves: loosing their grip over Iraq, they moved their influence to Syria, a state hostile to Israel and a regime supporting armed guerilla in Iraq, after the war. In view of many military and intelligence experts, the Russian WMD-cleaning operation in Iraq was a "masterpiece" of the military camouflage and political deception.
The Russian-led rivalry by proxies
Some high-ranking former Communist spymasters and/or spy defectors, like the former Romanian Intelligence chief, General Ion Pacepa, a Russian spy, Colonel Stanislav Lunev, and the former chief of the KGB bio-war program, Dr. Alexander Kouzminov, warned that the dismantling of the communist USSR in the early 1990s did not remove the military and political threats, which present-day Russia poses to the national security and to the global policy of the United States.
Not able to discuss this matter in full now, let me focus on the Russian WMD-cleaning operations in Iraq and its consequences:
Russia lost ground in Iraq, after the collapse of the Saddam Hussain regime, caused by the 2nd Gulf War, but it gained new strongholds in Syria and Iran.
Russia is able to destabilize the situation in Iraq by secretly supporting and arming post-Saddam guerillas and terrorist groups, to oppose the American policy and the American interests in Iraq and in the Middle East Region.
Russia can exert political and military pressure on Israel by supporting the Syrian regime, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas in the Palestinian Autonomy.
Russia is helping the regime in Iran to become a regional political and military power (with an ever stronger influence in Iraq, too), and eventually a nuclear power threatening Israel, a large part of Europe and the American military bases in the entire Middle East Region and in Central Asia.
Most of the fighting is done by proxies. Russia has learned from its Afghanistan war not to engage her military forces abroad, apart from the sphere of her close neighborhood (called "near foreign lands").
The United States should not seek their motives for invading the Iraqi regime in the WMD question alone. The Iraqi WMD secrets are to be found in Russia, in the first place. But it is not substantial for the Government of the United States to prove its true intentions for the past, victorious war in Iraq. It’s very important to observe the development of Russia’s new "imperial" policy, which is threatening the U.S.A. and its world-wide interests.
Gazeta.ru, March 2, 2003:
Col.Gen. Vladislav Achalov
'We didn't fly to Baghdad to drink coffee' http://gazeta.ru/2003/04/02/Wedidntflyto.shtml
Col. Gen, Igor Maltsev
Generals Achalov and Maltsev with with Iraqi officers
Achalov Vladislav Alekseevich
Born November 13, 1945 in the village of Atamysh of the Arsk District in the Tatar Republic. Graduated from: the Kazan Tank School named after Tatarstan's Supreme Soviet; the Military Academy of Armoured Forces named after Marshal of the Soviet Union Malinovsky; and the General Staff Military Academy. Currently holds the rank of colonel-general. Has served in command posts in the airborne troops. In 1985 was appointed commander of the Eighth Army. In 1987 became the head of staff and first deputy troop leader of the Leningrad Military District before becoming commander of the Airborne Troops two years later. In 1990, became deputy defence minister of the USSR overseeing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe and the army's actions in extraordinary and extreme situations. Decorated with the orders of the 'Red Star', and 'For Serving the Motherland in the Military Forces' of the third degree. Has a good command of the German language.
Commanded troops in January 1990 when a wave of anti-Armenian pogroms swept the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, and when Soviet troops, as was reported afterwards, entered the city after a long delay with unnecessary bloodshed. Personally thinks Baku bloodshed was the fault of local law enforcers. In January 1991 was sent to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius to coordinate military action. On August 16, 1991 was informed by the Soviet Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov about the planned actions of the Committee of State Emergency. Took part in the August 17 conference at which it was decided to start implementing the plans of the Committee of State Emergency on August 18. Prepared the August 18 conference of the military command at which Yazov reported the plans of the Committee. On August 19, at Yazov's command, used special forces from the Airborne Troops to gain control of the Ostankino TV-centre in Moscow.
On December 27 the Supreme Soviet turned down a request by the Russian prosecutor general to strip Achalov of his parliamentary immunity in connection with the actions of the Committee of State Emergency. The prosecutor's repeated request was turned down in February 1992. After Boris Yeltsin issued a decree dissolving the parliament in September 1993, Achalov was appointed defence minister by the order of parliamentary chairman Aleksander Rutskoi. However, Achalov failed to make the Military Forces follow orders. He remained in custody over charges of organizing a mass insurgency until an amnesty was announced in February 1994.
Presently works as a chairman of the Bratstvo (Brotherhood) Military-Patriotic Fund.
Maltsev Igor Mikhailovich
Born on August 6, 1935 in the town of Balashikha in the Moscow Region. Graduated from the Bataisk Military School for Fighter Pilots; the Yuri Gagarin Air Force Academy; and the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Military Forces of the USSR. Served in the Anti-Aircraft Defence Troops of the Moscow and Lipetsk Regions, as well as in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the Urals, the Russian Far East, and Moscow city. His military career went from fighter pilot to the first deputy commander of the Anti-Aircraft Defence Troops and chief of general staff of the Anti-Aircraft Defence Troops. In August 1991 Maltsev supported the Committee of State Emergency for which he was dismissed from his post and from the ranks of the military as politically unreliable.
Was elected a people's deputy of the Russian Federation for the 1990-1993 term, participating with the Fatherland faction. After the Supreme Soviet was dismissed in October 1993, Maltsev took part in creating the public military-patriotic organization The All-Russian Officer's Assembly. Also participated in founding the Movement for Support of the Army (DPA).
Presently works as a deputy chairman of the DPA.
02 ÀÏÐÅËß 13:55 April 2, 2003
* Author’s Credentials
The author of this paper is a veteran international journalist and a former intelligence operative (of the Polish Intelligence and the CIA). In the 1970’s and 1980’s, he had frequent contacts with Palestinian terrorist groups, with the Saddam Hussein regime’s diplomatic, intelligence and commercial personnel, as well as with Soviet officials, diplomats and intelligence operatives(some of them serving in Iraq and other Arab countries). Arrested by the then Polish Communist Security Service (SB) in 1987, condemned by a secret Communist Military Court to 8 years in special prison wards for allegedly working for the CIA, Japanese Prime Minister’s Intelligence Service and for conspiring against the Warsaw Pact, he was released by virtue of general amnesty on February 28, 1990, after the regime change in Poland. Soon after the release, he resumed his journalist and business activity, cooperating with American diplomacy and intelligence and with Israeli diplomats and nuclear experts. Traveling extensively under the cover of businessman and tour-operator, he collected ample evidence of the illegal trade in nuclear materials, weapon parts and technology between Russia and other post-USSR states and Arab and Muslim countries, through a variety of intelligence, military and mafia channels. His activity covered Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Russia, China, Israel and several Middle East countries.
(International journalist David M. Dastych writes for Poland's acclaimed weekly,Wprost. His columns appear regularly in the Edmonton-based Polish Panorama.) He can be reached at: David.email@example.com
Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.