Global Arms Exports to Iraq, 1960-1990

by Rachel Schmidt

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This Note provides information about the supply of weapons to Iraq since the 1960s, including a rough assessment of the level of technological sophistication inherent in those systems. After the mid-1970s, Iraq pursued a policy of diversifying the countries from which it imports its weapons in an effort to lessen the leverage that suppliers could exert over it. Historically, the Soviet Union had been Iraq's primary supplier. During Saddam Hussein's presidency, however, Iraq collected a wide assortment of equipment from all over the world, including, among others, French, Brazilian, and Soviet designs. Although this may have been considered a logistical nightmare, it gave Iraq access to highly advanced military technologies in several categories of weapons. A detailed examination of the factors that led to the Persian Gulf conflict is beyond the scope of this research; the goal here is limited to documenting Iraq's arsenal buildup. Nonetheless, this Note should be of interest to those who study arms trade or who are evaluating the events that led to that war.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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