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Last Updated:  Monday, 18 November, 2002, 10:07 GMT
Scud: Iraq's ballistic missile
Scud missile

Iraq may have a small number of Scud ballistic missiles in its armoury. BBC News Online looks at the Scud missile and the history of its use.

Capabilities and range:
All Iraqi Scud-Bs - the original, al-Hussein, al-Abbas, al-Hijarah and al-Abid - are liquid fuelled, short range ballistic missiles. They are launched from heavy mobile launchers.

By today's standards they are old fashioned and very basic.

Scuds have crude gyroscope guidance systems which operate only during the missiles powered flight - about 80 seconds for the most widely used al-Hussein model.

Once the rocket motor stops firing, the missile and warhead coast unguided towards the target area.

Iraq's Scuds are notoriously inaccurate weapons. The further they fly the less accurate they are.

The fear that Iraq may be able to arm its Scuds with chemical or biological warheads has loomed large.

UN weapons inspectors have suggested that Iraq may have attempted to do so, but Scuds have not been deployed by Iraq carrying such weapons.

Analysts have warned that Saddam Hussein could order the use of chemical and biological weapons if the US leads a war against Iraq that is going to end his rule.

There is some debate as to whether Iraq has any operating Scud missiles left.

Unscom weapons inspectors destroyed 48 Scuds during their years in Iraq, and nearly all of the known 819 Scuds imported by Baghdad have been accounted for.

But according to the UK prime minister's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction: "Iraq possesses extended-range versions of the Scud ballistic missile in breach of UN Security Council resolution 687 which are capable of reaching Cyprus, Eastern Turkey, Tehran and Israel. It is also developing longer-range ballistic missiles."

The International Institute of Strategic Studies estimates that Iraq might have about a dozen Scuds hidden away.

Starting in 1974, Iraq started receiving Scud-B launchers and missiles from the Soviet Union.

In total, Iraq is believed to have imported more than 800 single-stage liquid-engine missiles and 11 mobile launchers for them.

In the mid-1980s Iraq began a programme to extend the range of the Scud-B and to "reverse engineer" the design, so as to produce several new, more potent, indigenous missiles, known as the al-Hussein, al-Hijarah, al-Abbas and the al-Abid.

The UN disarmament commission, Unscom, found no evidence of further imports through a third party of other Scud missiles or launchers.

Use and deployment:
During the Iran-Iraq war, especially in 1988, Scuds with improved range were used to devastating effect against Iran, even reaching Tehran. Iraq is believed to have fired about 500 scuds during their 1980-88 war with Iran.

It fired about 90 during the 1991 Gulf War. These were targeted at Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and coalition forces in the region. They did little damage, but caused great panic.

Iraqi Scud-B missiles
Missile Range
al-Hussein600 km
al-Hijarah750 km
al-Abbas900 km
al-Abid (Tammuz-2) 3,000 km
Source: Federation of American Scientists







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