Military Technical Institute-Mostar

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Last Updated: June 1, 2004
Other Name: MTI, Mostar, Potoci
Location: Potoci, Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 kilometers north of Mostar)
Subordinate To: Military Technical Institute Belgrade (?), Institute for Technical and Medical Protection
Size: 52 Hectares, 80 to 120 staff members
Facility Status: N/A

This facility for research into CW agents was established in 1958. The primary purpose of the facility was "the synthesis of all the known poison gases for the requirements of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA)." These requirements included the development of safety and protection devices, CW detection systems, decontamination methods and systems, and the production of CW agents for training and testing purposes. It is difficult to separate out the extent to which this research was confined to addressing perceived threats or conversely served as a foundation for the development of an offensive CW capability. Most likely the facility was serving both needs. [1]

The plant was comprised of the following: CW agent production facilities, synthesis and analysis labs, underground and above-ground storage, test animals (including breeding and rearing facilities), workshops (mechanical, electrical and construction), and an emergency dispensary. The plant was a branch of the Institute for Technical and Medical Protection in Belgrade. Its average employment was 100 personnel and 95% of the employees were civilians. The workforce breakdown was 60 percent Serbian, 30 percent Bosnian Muslim, and 10 percent Croatian. [2]

In 1959, a small production line for phosgene with a capacity of 20 kilograms per day was established at the MTI. This phosgene line produced 15 metric tons between 1959 and 1965. In 1965, the phosgene line was dismantled and relocated to the Miloje Zakic facility in Krusevac.[2]

By 1970, Yugoslavia had bought and installed production equipment at Mostar with the goal of an annual production of 40 tons of sarin and 30 tons of sulfur mustard. Although chemical research continued towards reaching the production goals as stated, this part of the production facility did not come on line until 1976. [3]

In the mid-1970s, the facility was researching a number of CW agents for potential military use. These agents were adamsite, bromosilcyanide, cyanogens chloride, diphenylcyanosarin, chloropicrin, diphosgene, and possibly others. Research on the incapacitant BZ was initiated. Production equipment for CS tear gas was also developed and installed, establishing a production capacity of 200 kilograms per day.

From 1980 to 1984, the research emphasis shifted to soman, tabun, VX, armin, DFP, nitrogen mustard, lewisite, and cyanogen chloride. A facility to produce five kilograms of BZ per day was installed and possibly operated. A facility for filling munitions with CW agents was installed and operated on a trial basis from 1986 to 1987, producing 250 sarin-filled 122mm artillery shells. Tests of delivery systems were also undertaken during this period in preparation for large scale weaponization and production of CW, projected to take place in the early 1990s. In 1989, 40 metric tons of methylphosphonyldichloride (DC) produced at the Miloje Blagojevic facility in Lucani were shipped to Potoci. The intention was to use this quantity of precursor in a large sarin production campaign.

By late 1990, there was increasing disunity in Yugoslavia. This seems to have affected activities at the Potoci facility, interrupting plans for CW weaponization. In July 1991, all technical records were removed to Belgrade, suggesting a decision to cease activities at the facility. Around the same period, destruction of some older chemical weapons stored at the facility was undertaken. This reportedly involved the destruction of 220 nerve agent-filled rockets, 15 nerve agent-filled artillery shells, and an unspecified number of unfilled munitions. [1]

In January 1992, the Potoci facility was officially shut down. As it had not yet been used for sarin production, the 40 metric tons of DC that had been held at the Potoci facility since 1989 were returned to the Miloje Blagojevic facility for storage. Other unused chemicals held at the Potoci facility were also sent to Lucani at this time. These chemicals were five metric tons of isopropyl alcohol, five metric tons of methylene dichloride, ten metric tons of sodium-silicofluoride, and three metric tons of sulfur monochloride. [1]

The key facilities and equipment were disassembled by technicians and engineers from Belgrade in January and February 1992. The equipment was reportedly sent to the Miloje Blagojevic facility in Lucani, Serbia where it may have been reassembled to create a new production capability. However, by 2003, the dismantled production equipment was being stored at the former Miloje Zakic facility in Krusevac awaiting destruction under the supervision of the OPCW. The equipment was destroyed in September 2003. The former buildings of the Military Technical Institute in Potoci appear to have been left in place and remained intact in the hands of the Bosnian government. Reports from the mid-1990s indicate that significant evidence of MTI's use as a CW research facility remained. In its initial declaration to the OPCW, the Bosnian government declared the facility as a former CW production facility (CWPF). Under the terms of the CWC, such a facility must be destroyed or clearly converted to uses that are not prohibited under the terms of Convention. In March 2004, the Director-General of the OPCW announced that a destruction certificate had been issued to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a CWPF. It may be concluded that the history of the Potoci facility has come to an end. [4]

Sources:
[1] General Zlatko Binenfeld, Production of Chemical Weapons at the Military Technical Institute – Mostar Plant by the Former Yugoslav National Army (JNA), Statement at seminar on "National Authority and National Implementation Measures for the Chemical Weapons Convention" in Warsaw, Poland, December 7-8, 1993, p. 3;
[2] "Yugoslav Chemical Warfare Capability, Mostar's History of Chemical Weapon Research, Development, Production: What, When, Where, How Much?" The ASA Newsletter, www.asanltr.com;
[3] News archive of the Serbian and Montenegrin Armed Forces, 26 September 2003, www.vj.yu;
[4] "Serbia-Montenegro completes destruction of dual-use chemical industry equipment," BBC Monitoring Service, 17 October 2003, http://web.lexis-nexis.com; Reginald Bartholomew (nom de plume), "The Balkans and Chemical Warfare: A Possibility?" ASA Newsletter (50) (October 1995), pp. 1 & 7; The CBW Conventions Bulletin, No. 64 (June 2004), p. 2.

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