0100– The destruction of Madrid and Gorki on the afternoon of D+18 brought a temporary pause to military and diplomatic activity across the Persian Gulf region. It was unclear what the future would bring in the aftermath of the limited nuclear exchange. Governments in the Middle East became increasingly anxious as the minutes and hours went by. In Riyadh, Baghdad and Tehran, leaders wondered if their nations would be targeted for destruction in the coming hours. Few were under any illusions about their survival chances in the event of a major exchange.
0120– US Central Command’s nuclear capabilities in the region were considerable. The Constellation battlegroup had air-delivered B-61 gravity bombs aboard the carrier and a limited number of nuclear-armed Tomahawk cruise missiles on two of the escorting destroyers. On Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, nuclear weapons were available for the B-52s based there. There were no nuclear weapons situated anywhere in Saudi Arabia. But at sea and on Diego alert levels had been raised and efforts were underway to prepare a number of aircraft for nuclear missions if the orders were given.
0445– Along the Kuwait/Saudi border the first of a series of engagements break out between Iraqi forces and US Marines from the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade.
0700– On the Iran-Iraq frontier east of Basra, a number of firefights and artillery strikes occur between Iraqi Republican Guard and Iranian Army forces. As the morning continues, the tempo of the fighting increases.
1155– The first C-141 Starlifter loaded with Soviet prisoners of war departs from Dhahran, heading for Crete where the captured paratroopers will be interned until hostilities draw to a close.
1435– Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein delivers a radio address to his nation. In it, he affirms that Kuwait is now an Iraqi protectorate. He then blames Iran for the continuing engagements along the border. The address ends with Hussein warning Tehran against using the present global turmoil to reignite fighting between Iran and Iraq.
1700– In a private meeting with the exiled Kuwaiti Emir, Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd assures him Kuwait is liberated, however it might be some time before the day arrives. Fahd counsels patience.
1920– Intercepted communications suggest Iraqi forces might be preparing to use chemical weapons. CENTCOM commander General Crist advises Washington but the Pentagon and US government have greater problems to contend with at the moment.
2249– Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz personally informs the US ambassador in Baghdad that intelligence assets have revealed a very high probability that Iran will use chemical weapons against Iraqi forces sometime in the next twelve hours.