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Ramsey Clark's Letter to the UN Secretary General about the Current US Threats against Iraq (fwd)

[Note: Ramsey Clark is a former US attorney General.]

International Action Center
39 West 14th St., #206, New York, NY 10011 212-633-6646 fax:
Ramsey Clark, Chairperson

January 28, 1998

H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary General of the United Nations
United Nations Headquarters
Room S-3800
New York, NY 10017

Dear Ambassador Annan,

The United States government has climaxed months of propaganda and
threats against Iraq with the statement it will launch a new sustained
attack using missiles and bombs on suspected biological and chemical
weapon sites and other targets, alone if necessary, as soon as
mid-February. It offers as its excuse Iraq's failure to permit its
inspectors unrestricted access to any place in Iraq they choose. 

For the Security Council to permit the United States to take the
enforcement of Security Council resolutions into its own hands and
commit acts of war against Iraq would have tragic consequences for
the United Nations and the hope for peace. 

There is no chance that such an assault would not kill innocent 
civilians. While then - U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger 
proclaimed it "was impossible" that civilians were killed by surprise 
U.S. air strikes against the sleeping Libyan cities of Tripoli and 
Benghazi in April 1986, we now know hundreds of civilians were 
killed. It is impossible to bomb cities without killing civilians. 

In the last three days of his presidency January 17-19, 1993, George 
Bush ordered hundreds of cruise missiles and air strikes to be 
launched against Iraq causing scores of civilian deaths. One cruise 
missile struck the Al Rashid Hotel killing two hotel service 
employees. U.S. intelligence agencies believed Saddam Hussein was to 
attend an international Islamic meeting in the Al Rashid at the time. 

When President Clinton ordered 23 cruise missiles to be launched 
toward Baghdad on June 26, 1993, justifying his acts by citing the 
right to self defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, they 
managed to kill dozens of civilians including the internationally 
known Layla al-Altar, artist and Director General of Iraq's National 
Center for Arts, and her husband when a missile hit their home. 

The United States has made a shooting gallery of the "Cradle of 
Civilization." People live there. Their lives are threatened and 
some are lost every time the U.S. decides, for its own political 
interests, to attack. When the Security Council authorizes, or 
condones, such attacks, it, too, is guilty of crimes against 

Attacks against nuclear, biological, or chemical plants and 
other inherently dangerous facilities violate international law 
because they expose civilian populations to death and injury. The 
General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution on 
December 4, 1990, specifically prohibiting any attacks on Iraq's two 
nuclear facilities. The U.S. ignored the resolution. On January 23, 
1991, General Colin Powell announced Iraq's "two operating 
reactors...are both gone. They're down. They're finished." On 
January 30, General Norman Schwarzkopf boasted his forces had 
attacked 18 chemical, 10 biological and three nuclear plants. By 
February 4, 1991, a French military spokesperson was reported to say 
the chemical fallout was being detected throughout Iraq. See, e.g., 
Financial Times (London) Feb. 4, 1991; Medical Educational Trust 
Report, Background Papers, July 1991, p 15. U.S. forces fired more 
than 900 tons of depleted uranium in missiles and shells into Iraq 
leaving unretrievable, deadly radioactive matter in the soil and 
water forever. The U.S. showed no concern for the civilian 
population of Iraq. It cannot be expected to show more now. 

The Security Council and the General Assembly should immediately 
admonish the United States that it must not commit any armed assault, 
or other grave threats to peace, against Iraq. It should condemn the 
repeated uses of false propaganda employed to create fear and hatred 
toward Iraq such as the recent false claims that photographs proved 
Iraq tested chemical weapons against prisoners. 

The Security Council should announce that after seven years no 
credible evidence has been found that Iraq is manufacturing or 
possesses new nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, and that Iraq 
has the same rights accorded to every nation to refuse inspectors 
that it deems a threat to its national security. See, e.g. Chemical 
Weapons, Convention Implementation Act of 1997. How else could Iraq 
consider inspections of the residences of its President and high 
officials by U.S. military officers who served in U.S. intelligence 
capacities during the 1991 bombing of Iraq? 

Above all, the Security Council must act now to end the sanctions 
against Iraq. They are the direct cause of the deaths of a million 
and a half people, the majority infants, children, chronically ill 
persons and the elderly. They are genocide as defined by the 
Convention Against Genocide, and take several hundred more lives each 
day. There can be no link between these sanctions which afflict the 
weakest members of society and any acts of the government of Iraq. 
International law prohibits the use of starvation as a weapon even in 
times of war.

In this moment of crisis, the Security Council and the 
General Assembly must renounce all sanctions which impact on an 
entire society, killing and injuring its most vulnerable members. It 
must prohibit the use of punitive missile and air strikes by one 
nation against another and specifically a super power against a 
defenseless people. 

Ramsey Clark
Chairperson, International Action Center

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