Iraq Flag for Iraq

Country Spotlight

Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq pursued every major category of WMD, but dismantled its programs under UN supervision following defeat in the 1991 Gulf War. Nonetheless, unfounded U.S. and Western suspicions that it was reconstituting its WMD programs led to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and regime change. Today, it does not have WMD programs or ballistic missiles.

See Iraq's performance in:

Region   Middle East and North Africa

16 Known military uses of chemical weapons during Iran-Iraq War

690+ Metric tons of chemical weapons agents destroyed by the UN

12,500 Liters of undeclared biological agents reportedly destroyed

80+ Scud missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and Israel during 1991 Gulf War


Nuclear

  • Began nuclear weapons development under then-Vice President Saddam Hussein in 1970s
  • IAEA Director General announced in 2003 no evidence of a reconstituted nuclear weapons program
  • Announced in 2023 interests in peaceful nuclear power program to diversify energy resources


Biological

  • Produced large quantities of botulinum toxin, anthrax, and aflatoxin during the 1980s and early 1990s
  • 166 R400 bombs and 25 Al Hussein missile warheads were filled with biological agents and deployed but never used
  • Iraq Survey Group confirmed that Iraq abandoned its biological weapons program in 1991


Missile

  • Pursued ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles during the 1990s 
  • Concealed majority of ballistic missile program from the UN during 1990s inspections
  • Subject to missile and rocket strikes on U.S. military bases in Iraq by Iran-backed militias


Chemical

  • Used mustard gas and tabun against Iranian and Kurdish populations during Iran-Iraq War 
  • Unilaterally declared all chemical weapons disarmament issues resolved in 1998
  • Various chemical weapons were found on the Iraqi black market after the 2003 Iraq War

Treaties and Regimes Memberships

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Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

The BTWC mandates the elimination of existing biological weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using biological and toxin weapons.

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Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires countries to destroy all chemical weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using chemical weapons.

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Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosion tests on Earth. It needs eight key countries to ratify before entry into force.

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NPT

The NPT is a treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons through the three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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Analysis

Iraq

“A Pivotal Juncture:” Ambassador Laura Holgate on the Future of Nuclear Security

Atomic Pulse

“A Pivotal Juncture:” Ambassador Laura Holgate on the Future of Nuclear Security

Ahead of the 2024 International Conference on Nuclear Security, U.S. Ambassador to the Vienna Office of the United Nations and the IAEA Laura Holgate joined NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz and Vice President for Nuclear Materials Security Scott Roecker for a conversation on “The Future of Nuclear Security.”


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