The CIA released a report of supposed mobile weapons labs in Iraq, justifying the invasion, however on June 15, 2003, it was revealed that the trailers discovered were for the production of hydrogen to fill weather balloons, as the Iraqis had insisted all along and confirmed by Dr. David Kelly, who had visited Iraq many times as a UN weapons inspector.
- May 13, 2003 it was reported that a second suspected mobile weapons lab had been found in Iraq on April 19, 2003.
- May 27, 2003 a fact finding mission to Iraq sent its report to Washington unanimously declaring that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. The report was ‘shelved’.
- May 28, 2003 the Central Intelligence Agency released a report on the supposed mobile weapons labs, stating:
Despite the lack of confirmatory samples, we nevertheless are confident that this trailer is a mobile BW production plant.
- May 29, 2003 President George W Bush declared that they had found the weapons of mass destruction that had been claimed were in Iraq, these were in the form of mobile labs for manufacturing biological weapons.
We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two. And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.
- May 29, 2003 “We have already found two trailers that both our and the American security services believe were used for the manufacture of chemical and biological weapons.” Tony Blair, Flying into Kuwait for morale boosting trip.
- May 29, 2003 “My personal view is we’re going to find them, just as we found these two mobile laboratories” Town Hall Meeting with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Infinity-CBS Radio.
- June 2, 2003 In the UK, Susan Watts broadcasts on the influential BBC2 News night report which includes an anonymous experts (Dr David Kelly opinion on the Mobile Weapons labs being for biological weapons. Dr Kelly is now only 40% certain the trailers are labs.
“But our source, who is in an excellent position to know, and spoke of being 90% confident these claims are correct on the day the Pentagon showed the trucks to the world, now put that confidence level at just 40%.”
- June 3, 2003 “But let’s remember what we’ve already found. Secretary Powell on February 5th talked about a mobile, biological weapons capability. That has now been found and this is a weapons laboratory trailers capable of making a lot of agent that — dry agent, dry biological agent that can kill a lot of people. So we are finding these pieces that were described.” Condoleezza Rice, Capital Report, CNBC.
- June 3, 2003 “We know that these trailers look exactly like what was described to us by multiple sources as the capabilities for building or for making biological agents. We know that we have from multiple sources who told us that then and sources who have confirmed it now. Now the Iraqis were not stupid about this. They were able to conceal a lot. They’ve been able to scrub things down. But I think when the whole picture comes out, we will see that this was an active program.” Condoleezza Rice, Capital Report, CNBC.
- June 5, 2003 “We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents” President G W Bush Talks to Troops in Qatar, White House.
- June 5, 2003 Dr. David Kelly one of Britains foremost experts on Biological Weapons visited Iraq to examine the trailers and take photographs.
- June 7, 2003 Judith Miller reports that some scientists had doubts about the trailers in her piece – “Some experts doubt trailers were germ lab”, Judith Miller and William J. Broad, New York Times.
- June 8, 2003 The UK’s Observer newspaper picks up on the story with their piece “Blow to Blair over ‘mobile labs’ – Saddam’s trucks were for balloons, not germs ” Placing more pressure on Prime Minister Tony Blair over the lack of Weapons of Mass Destruction found in Iraq.
- June 8, 2003 “Already, we’ve discovered, uh, uh, trailers, uh, that look remarkably similar to what Colin Powell described in his February 5th speech, biological weapons production facilities.” Condoleezza Rice, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC.
- June 8, 2003 “We are confident that we — I believe that we will find them. I think that we have already found important clues like the biological weapons laboratories that look surprisingly like what Colin Powell described in his speech.” Condoleezza Rice, Meet the Press, NBC.
- June 8, 2003 “We have uncovered the mobile vans and we are continuing to search.” Colin Powell Remarks at Stakeout Following Fox News Interview, Fox News.
- June 8, 2003 “And I think the mobile labs are what I think is a good indication of the kind of thing they are doing.” Colin Powell Remarks at Stakeout Following Fox News Interview, Fox News.
- June 15, 2003 It was revealed that the trailers discovered were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis had insisted all along. The artillery balloons were used to get detailed weather data to be used to accurately direct artillery shelling. A British scientist and biological weapons expert was quoted “They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were – facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.” It was confirmed later that this expert was Dr David Kelly
- June 20, 2003 MP Paul Flynn: “To ask the Prime Minister what assessment has been made of the function of the two vehicles suspected of being biological weapons laboratories that were discovered in Iraq.” The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair: “Investigations into their role are continuing.”
- June 23, 2003 MP Harry Cohen: “Will the Secretary of State consider sending some of the Territorials to look at the mobile labs in the form of two trailers in northern Iraq? A report in The Observer on 15 June said that the system was originally sold by a British company, Marconi, as a command and control system. If any Territorials investigated the trailers, would they find a “Made in Britain” stamp on them? If this is a smoking gun in terms of weapons of mass destruction, why did we apparently sell them? MP Geoff Hoon – I do not think that anyone suggested that this was an example of a smoking gun. It has rightly been suggested that this was a gun and that the mobile laboratories were wholly consistent with the description of mobile laboratories given by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his evidence to the United Nations Security Council. That remains the position as far as coalition forces are concerned.”
- July 17/18, 2003 Dr. David Kelly, a key source for many of the newspaper articles doubting the Mobile weapons labs, is found dead. An inquiry into his death, The Hutton Inquiry, found his death to be suicide. Files were Sealed for 70 years.
- September 8, 2003
The discovery by U.S. forces in Iraq of two mobile ‘biological weapons laboratories’ was touted by President Bush as clear evidence that Iraq possessed illegal weapons capabilities. However, it now is clear that these so-called labs were nothing more than hydrogen generation units based upon British technology acquired by Iraq in the 1980s, used to fill weather balloons in support of conventional artillery operations, and have absolutely no application for the production of biological agents.
— Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector, wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle on September 8, 2003
Dick Cheney continued to claim trailers were mobile labs
- September 14, 2003 “Same on biological weapons–we believe he’d developed the capacity to go mobile with his BW production capability because, again, in reaction to what we had done to him in ’91. We had intelligence reporting before the war that there were at least seven of these mobile labs that he had gone out and acquired. We’ve, since the war, found two of them. They’re in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing the capacity for an attack.” Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, NBC.
- January 22, 2004 “In terms of the question what is there now, we know for example that prior to our going in that he had spent time and effort acquiring mobile biological weapons labs, and we’re quite confident he did, in fact, have such a program. We’ve found a couple of semi trailers at this point which we believe were, in fact, part of that program.” Dick Cheney, Morning Edition, NPR.
I looked at the four [sources] that [the CIA] gave me for [the mobile bio-labs], and they stood behind them, … Now it appears not to be the case that it was that solid. At the time I was preparing the presentation, it was presented to me as being solid. April 3, 2004
I feel terrible … [giving the speech] … It’s a blot. I’m the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.” 2005
— Colin L Powell
The Pentagon produced a secret report in 2003 entitled Final Technical Engineering Exploitation Report on Iraqi Suspected Biological Weapons-Associated Trailers that found that the trailers were impractical for biological agent production and almost certainly designed and built for the generation of hydrogen.