Iraqgate, 1980-1994
1 9 8 0 - 1 9 9 4

On August 2, 1990, Iraqi troops rolled across the border into neighboring Kuwait. The invasion prompted outrage and action from the White House where Iraq's President Saddam Hussein was reviled as a modern day Hitler, potentially more dangerous by virtue of his nuclear weapons ambitions. But Washington's view had not always been so negative....

Focus of the Collection

Iraqgate: Saddam Hussein, U.S. Policy and the Prelude to the Persian Gulf War, 1980-1994 reproduces on microfiche approximately 1,900 documents representing nearly 10,000 pages of rarely-seen documentation from the highest levels of government.

The collection brings together a wealth of materials which trace U.S. policy toward Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War, as well as U.S. government reactions to revelations about the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein's regime. The set also focuses on the economic issues at play in the U.S. relationship with Iraq. Documents are derived from virtually every federal agency involved in U.S.-lraq policy and the BNL affair.

Through systematic document searching, use of the Freedom of Information Act, cultivation of an extensive network of government, media and academic contacts, and computer- based cataloging, the National Security Archive has developed an unmatched collection of primary-source materials.

The result is a completely integrated, comprehensive history of Iraqgate covering topics such as:

Documentary Breakthroughs

The congressional, media and prosecutorial investigations that took place beginning in 1990 produced hundreds of extraordinary items that would not have been released by the originating agencies for many years, if at all. Now, scholars, students and the American public have access to a revealing cross-section of the historical record almost immediately after the actual events.

Among the unique documents in the set are National Security Council and State Department memoranda outlining initiatives intended to increase U.S. influence with Iraq, together with intelligence reports discussing Iraq's chemical weapons use and its attempts to develop a nuclear arsenal.

One-Stop Retrieval

It would take an individual researcher years of work and a substantial financial commitment to accumulate the resources offered in a collection of this magnitude. This set affords one- stop retrieval for information on events, issues, individuals and organizations concerned with this highly controversial and hotly debated area of recent U.S. policy.

The core of the collection consists of materials created by U.S. government agencies, of which the greatest number originate in the State Department. Only in this truly integrated set can one access documents from all the agencies involved in the Iraqgate affair--the White House; National Security Council; Central Intelligence Agency; Defense Intelligence Agency; the Treasury, Agriculture, and Commerce Departments, and the Federal Reserve Board. Many of these materials were released through official investigations by Congress, including the House Banking Committee.

The collection also contains documents from United Kingdom government agencies, and others specifically describing BNL- Atlanta and its transactions with Iraq.

Documents include:

In-depth Indexing Makes Every Document Accessible

The National Security Archive prepares extensive printed finding aids for its collections. In-depth indexing offers users remarkable ease and precision of access to every document in the set. The printed Index provides document-level access to subjects, individuals, and organizations and represents a major historical contribution itself. Important transactions within each document are indexed individually using a controlled keyword vocabulary.

The Guide includes an events chronology, glossaries of key individuals and organizations, chronological document catalog, and a bibliography of relevant secondary sources.

Research Vistas

The Collection Will Be A Necessity For:

  • Scholars and students of American government, international relations and law
  • Specialists on the Middle East
  • Policy analysts
  • Journalists
  • Concerned citizens
  • Librarians and bibliographers

  • Sample Document Titles

  • 3/16/83 US Credit Possibilifies for lraq, Department of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Secret Memorandum

  • 4/11/83 PossibleAcquisition Opportunity, Department of the Army, Top Secret Memorandum

  • 10/7/83 Iran-lraq War Analysis of Possible U S. Shift from Position of Strict Neutrality, Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Secret Memorandum

  • 11/1/83 Iraq Use of Chemical Weapons, State Department, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, Secret Memorandum

  • 5/3/84 Letter from Richard Nixon to Nicolae Ceausescu

  • 5/9/84 U.S. Dual-Use Exports to Iraq Specific Actions, Department of State, Special Advisor to the Secretary on Non-Proliferation Policy and Nuclear Energy Affairs, Confidential Memorandum

  • 9/25/85 Personal & Confidential, Memorandum from E. Robert Wallach to Edwin Meese, lll

  • 1/13/86 Letter from John N. Mitchell to Sarkis Soghanalian

  • 2/14/86 Intelligence Exchange with Iraq, National Security Council, Top Secret Electronic Message

  • 7/26/86 USG Support for Iraq During the War, Department of State, Secret Memorandum

  • 11/21/86 Iran Game Plan, National Security Council, Secret Electronic Message

  • 4/25/88 Proposed Military Training for Iraqi Officers, Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Secret Memorandum

  • 9/8189 BNL Chairman Nesi Resigns Under Pressure: Rumors Fly on BNL "Iraqgate, " United States Embassy-ltaly, Confidential Cable

  • 9/15/89 [Excised]/ltalian Funding for Arms to Iraq, Defense Intelligence Agency, Secret Cable

  • 10/21/89 Message from the Secretary to Tariq Aziz, Department of State, Secret Cable

  • 11 /9189 Message from Secretary to Iraqi Fonmin on CCC, Department of State, Confidential Cable

  • 4/2/90 Checklist for Your Meeting with Italian Ambassador Petrignani, April 2, 1990, 11 30 am, Department of State, Bureau of European Affairs, Confidential Memorandum

  • 7/16/90 National Day Message from the President for President Saddam Hussein, Department of State, Limited Official Use Cable

  • 3/4/91 Iraq Retrospective, Department of State, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, Memorandum

  • 9/9/92 BNL Prosecution, National Security Agency, Top Secret Letter

  • 10/21/94 BNL Task Force - Final Report, Department of Justice, Criminal Division Report

  • Overview


    Iraqgate: Saddam Hussein, U.S. Policy and the Prelude to the Persian Gulf War, 1980-1994


    Reproduces on microfiche approximately 1,900 documents totaling 10,000 pages of documentation pertaining to U.S.-lraq policy (1980-1994) and the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) affair. Materials were identified, obtained, assembled and indexed by the National Security Archive.


    The Special Collections


    Microfiche are arranged chronologically. For ease of use, each document bears a unique accession number to which all indexing is keyed.


    The documents are reproduced on 35mm silver halide archivally permanent positive microfiche conforming to NMA and BSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard in any way will be replaced free of charge.


    A printed Guide and Index accompanies the microfiche collection. The Guide contains an events chronology, glossaries, chronological document catalog and a bibliography of secondary sources. The Index provides in-depth, document level access to subjects and individuals

    Orders and Inquiries

    Project Staff

    Project Editor:

    Joyce Battle, MA, Middle East Studies, Harvard University; MLS, Columbia University.

    Project Staff:

  • William G. Ferroggiaro, Research Assistant
  • Anastasia Malacos, Research Assistant
  • Jeffrey J. Roncka, Research Assistant
  • Tracey Ryniec, Research Assistant
  • W. Anita Bellas, Intern
  • Jon Elliston, Intern
  • Joseph M. Hiffa, Intern
  • Anthony S. Oh, Intern
  • Hilary Rakestraw, Intern
  • David F. Ruiz, Intern
  • Ahmet Sozen, Intern

  • Praise for Iraqgate, 1980-1994

    "This set is the most comprehensive collection of documentation on recent U.S.-Iraq relations available to the public, providing invaluable insights into decision-making at the highest levels during the Reagan and Bush administrations.
    Combining documents from a wide variety of U.S., British and other sources, this set is an excellent resource for researchers trying to understand a broad range of subjects, from U.S. policy toward the Persian Gulf to the dynamics of international military, technological and economic aid programs."

    Alan Friedman
    International economics correspondent of the International Herald Tribune (Paris) and author of Spider's Web: The Secret History of How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq.

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