As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated.
Click here for more information.


By Stephen Hughes


July 3, 2002


The most noted WWI chemical warfare agent Iraq uses is Mustard and its variants. (Many of today's chemical agents are from WW I) But Iraq may be producing some of the basic chemical WW I agents, and experimenting with them.

WWI basic chemical warfare agents are more easily produced, and easily loaded into artillery shells. Making them ideal for MLRS systems.

For example, some of the causalities produced by Iraqi chemical warfare agents with the Kurds /Iran Wars were attributed to CS, however the battlefield causalities and deaths appeared more like Lachrymator, or Bromanacetone mixed with other chemical warfare agents. (This would be consistent with Soviet Chemical Warfare Doctrine)

However UN Inspectors in Iraq made no note of finding such substances as such, but many of the precursory chemical compounds found attributed to modern chemical warfare agent s could easily be for early WWI chemical agents as well.

Mixtures of World War I chemical warfare agents would be more difficult to detect.

Listed are WW I Chemical Warfare Agents-

Lachrymator (tearing agent)
Much like today's tear gas and mace, this gas caused temporary blindness and greatly inflamed the nose and throat of the victim. A gas mask offered very good protection from this type of gas. xylyl bromide was a popular tearing agent since it was easily brewed.
These are the poisonous gases. This class includes chlorine, phosgene and diphosgene. Chlorine inflicts damage by forming hydrochloric acid when coming in contact with moisture such as found in the lungs and eyes. It is lethal at a mix of 1:5000 (gas/air) whereas phosgene is deadly at 1:10,000 (gas/air) - twice as toxic! Diphosgene, first used by the Germans at Verdun on 22-Jun-1916, was deadlier still and could not be effectively filtered by standard issue gas masks.
Blistering Agent
Dichlorethylsulphide: the most dreaded of all chemical weapons in World War I - mustard gas. Unlike the other gases, which attack the respiratory system, this gas acts on any exposed, moist skin. This includes, but is not limited to, the eyes, lungs, armpits and groin. A gas mask could offer very little protection. The oily agent would produce large burn-like blisters wherever it came in contact with skin. It also had a nasty way of hanging about in low areas for hours, even days, after being dispersed. A soldier jumping into a shell crater to seek cover could find himself blinded, with skin blistering and lungs bleeding.



Benzyl bromide : German, tearing, first used 1915
Bromacetone : Both sides, tearing/fatal in concentration, first used 1916
Carbonyl chloride (phosgene) : both sides, asphyxiant, fatal with delayed action, first used 1915
Chlorine : both sides, asphyxiant, fatal in concentration, first used in 1915, cylinder release only
Chloromethyl chloroformate : both sides, tearing, first used in 1915, artillery shell
Chloropircin :both sides, tearing, first used in 1916, artillery shell (green cross I)
Cyanogen (cyanide) compounds : allies/Austria, asphyxiant, fatal in concentration, first used in 1916, artillery shell
Dichlormethylether : German, tearing, first used 1918, artillery shell
Dibrommethylethylketone : German, tearing, fatal in concentration, first used in 1916
Dichloroethylsulphide (mustard gas) : both sides, blistering, artillery shell (yellow cross)
Aiphenylchloroarsine : German, asphyxiate, fatal in concentration, (dust - could not be filtered), first used in 1917, artillery shell (blue cross)
Diphenylcyonoarsine : German, more powerful replacement for blue cross, first used in 1918
Ethyl iodoacetate : British, tearing, first used in 1916
Monobrommethylethylketone : German, more powerful replacement for bromacetone, first used 1916
Trichloromethylchloroformate (diphosgene) : both sides, asphyxiate, fatal with delayed action, first used 1916
Xylyl bromide : German, tearing, first used 1915
Ethyldichloroarsine : German, less powerful replacement for blue cross, first used in 1918, artillery shell (yellow cross I, green cross III)


Thiodiglycol a,b Convertible into mustard gas simply by contact with hydrogen chloride.
Chloroethanol b Essential to one of the ways for making thiodiglycol (see above).
Phosphoryl chloride a,b Essential to tabun production. Can also be converted, with some difficulty, into methylphosphonyl dichloride (see below).
Dimethylamine b Like phosphoryl chloride (see above), essential to tabun production, but much easier to make.
Methylphosphonyl difluoride a,b Convertible into sarin-family nerve gases simply by contact with any of' many alcohols.
Methylphosphonyl dichloride b Convertible into sarin-family nerve gases by carefully controlled reaction with an alcohol and a fluoride such as potassium fluoride (see below). Convertible into methyl phosphonyl difluoride (see above) by heating with a fluoride such as potassium fluoride.
Dimethyl methylphosphonate a,b One of many methylphosphonyl compounds from which methylphosphonyl dichloride (see above) can be made quite easily.
Potassium fluoride a,b One of many fluorine compounds that could be used in the production of sarin-family nerve gases. Insignificant in the absence of a supply of methylphosphonyl or ethylphosphonyl compounds.

Conspicuously Absent From The List

Sodium fluoride A fluorinating agent more common than potassium fluoride.
Methylphosphonous dichloride Essential precursor in most of the better routes of VX-family nerve gases. Easily convertible into methylphosphonyl dichloride (see above.)
O-alkyl methylphosphonothioates Precursors for VX-family nerve gases, also convertible into satin-family nerve gases.
Other methylphosphonyl compounds See dimethyl methylphosphonate above.
P-ethyl homologues of all the methylphosphorus compounds above Precursors for ethylphosphonate-family nerve gases.








Home - Search - WMD Profiles - Entities of Concern - Iraq's Suppliers - UN Documents
Government Documents - Controlled Items - Perspectives - Subscribe

About Iraq Watch - Wisconsin Project - Contact Us

As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated. Click here for more information.

Copyright © 2000-2006
Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control