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Iraqi VX nerve gas affair

These are various messages about the allegations (which appeared on BBC TV
news yesterday) that Iraq loaded VX nerve gas into warheads... 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 07:59:32 -0500 (CDT)
From: Ali Abunimah <>

The usual pattern is repeating itself. Whenever Iraq appear to take a step
closer to having the genocidal sanctions on its civilian population
lifted, salacious stories about evil Iraqi misdeeds suddenly appear in the
Washington press, throwing cold water on hopes that the true biological
warfare of sanctions might end. Recall that just a week ago the hardline
Richard Butler even suggested that the whole inspection regime could be
wrapped up within two months. 

At the beginning of the year, the U.S.  produced unsubstantiated stories
that Iraq was experimenting on prisoners.  The previous November they
issued the scare stories about VX, even though Iraq clearly had no such
capability. This story (below) calls those earlier reports "long-standing
suspicions," while the U.S. always claims it has secret evidence that it
of course cannot show to anyone. Perhaps the most absurd such case was the
alleged bomb plot against former U.S.  President George Bush, which
resulted in June 1993 in a massive U.S.  cruise missile attack on Baghdad
which killed eight civilians and wounded dozens of others. 

As the extreme and eccentric U.S. position in support of indefinitely
keeping the entirely Iraqi population in a giant death camp, becomes more
and more isolated, the U.S. uses ever more desperate tactics to try to
keep the world on its side. It offers some small comfort that the
civilised world is increasingly fed up with these sanctions, while the
U.S.'s whole set of policies in the middle east, especially its indulgence
and support of Israeli terrorism, are making it more and more isolated,
like a wounded but heavily armed desperado of the (fictional) Far West.

Ali Abunimah

Iraq May Have Used Deadly Nerve Gas

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.N. weapons inspectors have found evidence that Iraq
armed missile warheads with VX nerve gas prior the Persian Gulf War, The
Washington Post reported.

The information is included in a confidential U.S. Army laboratory
analysis of warhead fragments taken from a pit at Taji, Iraq, in March,
the Post said in today's editions.

The paper said it obtained a copy of the report from the Iraqi National
Congress, the principal Iraqi exile group, and confirmed the findings with
diplomatic sources.

Analyzed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the samples from the
warhead fragments revealed ``significant amounts'' of VX disulfide and
stabilizer, the Post reported. A few drops of the nerve gas can kill a
human in minutes.

The new report could reignite concerns about Iraq's hiding of weapons of
mass destruction. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler, in a June
16 report to the U.N. Security Council, said the Iraqi side rejected the
initial findings.

The Post said Butler also reported: ``Iraq refused to undertake additional
steps to clarify the extent of its attempts to produce the chemical
warfare agent VX. Iraq stated that this matter was closed and that it was
only ready to discuss the evidence available to the commission of
incorrect declarations on VX.''

Butler is to report his completed findings to the Security Council on

The lab report would corroborate long-standing suspicions that Iraq had
made weapons with the VX gas, despite its denials. In February of this
year, Butler, in a draft report on the weapons situation in Iraq,
criticized the lack of progress made in getting information on Iraq's past
and current ability to produce VX.

According to the Post, Republican congressional leaders have sent a letter
to President Clinton, demanding to know whether the president would stand
behind Butler in a confrontation with Iraq.

                            Y-06-23-98 0524EDT


Iraqi comments on the results of the analysis of the remnant warheads 

[precise source unknown - SW]  

 Iraq rejects these results categorically. The results cannot be accurate since Vx was not used
in any kind of munitions in Iraq due to  continuous  production failure.  The Government of
Iraq would like to clarify the following: 

1- During the high level meeting with UNSCOM , we were informed that the results of
analyzing 7 samples of 23 completely analyzed samples, part of 44 samples submitted,
showed variable traces of Vx and a trace of a stabilizer in one sample only and not in the
other 6 samples.  No other results or explanations were submitted by UNSCOM. 

2- Iraq requested detailed analytical results for all samples and explanations of the methods of
testing so that Iraq can study those results scientifically because there is certainly an error
since Iraq is confident that no Vx was produced and filled in any kind of munitions. 
UNSCOM promised it will send the details pertaining to the analysis of samples on June 23,
1998  but this has not yet been received. 

3- The following points inclines the Iraqi side to be reserved on the issue of analyzing
samples for the following reasons: 

 A- Those samples were taken individually without giving Iraq equivalent samples as was
agreed upon in order to refer to them for comparisons and discussions. 

 B- Some of the samples were taken in 1995 to the Baghdad Center for Verification and
Monitoring and remained there until taken for analysis in 1998. 

 C- No soil samples were taken from the destruction sites for comparison purposes. 

 D- Finding a trace of a stabilizer in one sample out of 7 analyzed is not evidence because if
Vx was used, a stabilizer would have been found in every sample. 

 E- Scientifically, since all sample were taken from destruction sites then the results ought to
match in some way in all samples. 
4- Iraq had previously insisted that the analysis of anything of importance be done in a neutral
country or for the samples to evenly divided among laboratories of other countries and that
these samples should be obtained in accordance with procedures that will insure safe delivery
to the laboratories.  This has been done with the remnants of the long-range missile engines
that were tested in laboratories in France, Russia and the United States. 

5- We are astonished that UNSCOM wants to review the matter before the Security Council
while an agreement was reached with Mr. Butler, Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, during
the high level meeting in Baghdad, that re-examining the samples with the participating of
various international laboratories would be necessary and to discuss the results in a scientific
conference in Baghdad next July. 

6- We were also astonished to see the leak to the press before the matter was even reported
to the Security Council and for the so-called Iraqi opposition to be involved in such a leak
which challenges the professional and scientific nature of UNSCOMís work. 



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