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New Iraq talking points, VitW (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kathy Kelly <>
Subject: Urgent - new talking points, VitW

Voices in the Wilderness   June-July 1998 Talking Points

1.  What about VX nerve gas?

Richard Butler, executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM),
which is responsible for finding and destroying prohibited weapons in Iraq,
reported that "Iraq refused to undertake additional steps to clarify the
extent of its attempts to produce the chemical warfare agent VX".  The
Washington Post stated that "U.S. Army laboratory tests of destroyed Iraqi
missile warheads excavated by UNSCOM has found "significant amounts" of VX
disulfide...and stabiliser."

In response, Iraq's deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, in a letter on Monday to
the U.N. Security Council, stated that Butler had been "incorrect" in
asserting  that Iraq had refused to clarify the extent of efforts to produce
VX.  Aziz said Iraqi scientists had experimented with VX but were unable to
turn it into a weapon. He said that 1.7 tons of the agent had been produced,
but it was not of weapons grade.  

``The facts are that VX was not (made into a weapon) in any kind of munitions
because it was not produced in stable form.  Iraq flatly rejects the findings
of the U.S. Army laboratory,'' said the spokesman of Iraq's National Monitoring
Department, which shadows UNSCOM activities in Iraq.  He also expressed
surprise that "UNSCOM, after the previous experience,  has chosen a U.S.
army lab instead of other laboratories in countries which are not
politically hostile to Iraq."  

An allegation of Iraq's purported development of VX nerve gas-- prior to the
1991 Gulf War -- is a very serious accusation and needs to be confronted, but
it draws attention away from economic sanctions, which remain the uncontested
weapon of mass destruction in Iraq today.  Economic sanctions have already
killed nearly a million people and, according to UNICEF, continue to claim the
lives of over 4,500 children each month. 

Although Israel and Saudi Arabia were each the targets of some 40 Scud-type
missiles with conventional warheads during the 1991 Gulf War, none of the
warheads filled with chemical or biological agents were ever used.  Iraq had
previously admitted to filling warheads with the nerve gas sarin, but not VX. 

A pattern is repeating itself.  Whenever Iraq appears to take a step closer to
having the genocidal sanctions on its civilian population lifted, stories
about Iraqi misdeeds suddenly appear in the Washington press, throwing cold
water on hopes that the confirmed weapon of mass destruction -- economic
sanctions -- might end.  "This is not a new discovery," said Colonel Terry
Taylor of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a former UN
Weapons Inspector.  It is quite coincidental that this report should
reappear at this time.  Recall also  that a week ago Richard Butler
suggested that the inspection regime could be wrapped up within two months,
leading to the lifting of sanctions. 

At the beginning of the year, the U.S. produced unsubstantiated stories that
Iraq was experimenting on prisoners.  In June 1993, an alleged bomb plot
against former U.S. President George Bush was reported, 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 U.S. position in support of indefinitely keeping the entire Iraqi
population in a giant death camp becomes more and more isolated, the U.S.
continues to try to keep the world on its side. It's a small comfort that
the civilized world is increasingly fed up with these sanctions. 

After 8 years of economic sanctions, the international community must find
another approach, must no longer tie weapons inspections with sanctions.

We oppose the development, storage and use -in any country- of weapons of mass
destruction, be they nuclear, chemical, biological or economic. 

2.  "The State Department states that the sanctions are in place to prevent
Iraq from having or using weapons of mass destruction. What do you think?"

We think the maintenance of these economic sanctions has little to do with
eliminating weapons of mass destruction.  On the contrary, the sanctions
themselves are a weapon of mass destruction, having destroyed the lives of
hundreds of thousands of people and inflicted misery and despair throughout
a once thriving society.  The economic sanctions are advantageous to some
powerful groups that want to keep Iraqi oil off the market.  We believe the
US may want to keep Iraq's president in power, as an excuse to keep Iraqi
oil off the market, but crippled and therefore unable to exercise any
dominance in the region. The sanctions have rewarded Iraq's competitors
among oil producing nations in the region (who also happen to be American
allies). Saudi Arabia's oil production has risen several million barrels per
day since the imposition of the sanctions, and much of the revenue has been
used to purchase U.S. weapons and to pay for U.S. construction of military
installations within Saudi Arabia. The American economy is propped up by
weapons sales to many countries in the Middle East. Because of this, what
really matters to our government is not the demolition of weapons of mass
destruction, but the proliferation of them through arms sales and transfers.

3.  "Aren't your actions actually helping Saddam Hussein?"

Don't mix us up with George Bush and former Senator Alan Simpson.  These are
the people who helped Saddam Hussein acquire weapons of mass destruction
when the US wanted to arm both Iraq and Iran during the eighties.  Roger
Normand of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, writes that in  the
1980s, agents such as anthrax and botulism, intended for Iraq's
unconventional weapons programs, were supplied by a U.S. company, licensed
by the U.S. Commerce Department, and approved by the US State Department.  

4.  "Shouldn't we worry about Iraq's potential to refinance nuclear,
chemical, or biological weapons systems in the future?"

We should. The continuance of the human race and of the world is obviously
of great concern to us all. We should work toward disarmament of every
nation that develops, stores, sells uses and threatens to use weapons of
mass destruction.  (The US leads the world in weapon sales).  And, in the
Middle East, we should acknowledge the hypocritical double standard the U.S.
has maintained.  The U.S. has never called upon Israel to eliminate its
stockpile of at least two hundred thermonuclear weapons.  

We advocate nonviolent means to oppose destructive tendencies and counter
aggression.  Nonviolent persuasion is vastly preferable to nuclear threats,
conventional warfare or economic sanctions,  each of which has the effect of
killing innocent people. Some rational and humane means include:  offering
to engage in fair trade relations with Iraq so that their nonrenewable
resources can be sold at competitive prices; extending the hand of
friendship to Iraqi civilians by helping to rebuild the infrastructure that
has been destroyed
during the eight years of sanctions; strengthening the institutions which
can, in the future, contribute toward social change (including universities,
lower schools, libraries, communications industries,  media centers); being
consistently open to dialogue, negotiation and reconciliation, with an
earnest effort to understand opposing viewpoints; and encouraging the U.S.
media to give full coverage to conflicting views about the consequences of
U.S. foreign policy in relation to Iraq. 

5.   Shouldn't we worry about international terrorism if the sanctions are

It's helpful to place concerns about terrorism in a perspective that
includes facts about one of the most recent terrorist attacks that occurred
in the United States.  Timothy McVeigh, currently on death row for bombing
the Oklahoma Federal Building, drove a Bradley vehicle during the Gulf War.
In May 1996, the New York Times published McVeigh's letter to his Aunt Edna,
in which he wrote, "We did some terrible things to those Iraqis. Killing
Iraqis was real hard at first, but after awhile, killing [them] got easier."

Who taught Timothy McVeigh to be a mass murderer?  And does it become easier
for U.S. policy makers to kill Iraqis?  Do heartless measures that seem
designed to cripple the next generation of Iraqi children build resentment
that could eventually create a climate that would accept terrorist acts
viewed as retaliations for horrible injustices perpetrated by the U.S.?

6.  "Who are these sanctions really hurting? And what specific harm is being
White House spokesman Michael McCurry said on June 19, "These sanctions do
damage where the damage is intended to be done." Over half a million
children have died since the imposition of the sanctions in August of 1990,
more than in both the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings combined. There was a
nationwide cancer increase of 55 percent between 1989 and 1994, especially
concentrated in younger people, according to a  United Nations document
obtained by Reuters (6-21-98). A suspected cause of soaring rates of
leukemia and other child cancers is the depleted uranium (DU) shells
leftover from the Gulf War bombings. With its health services devastated by
eight years of sanctions, Iraq cannot afford expensive cancer drugs to treat
those afflicted.  The U.S. has forbidden Iraq to import the pumps and
chlorine needed to purify drinking water across the country. This is a form
of biological warfare in and of itself.
UNICEF reported in October, 1996 that 4,500 children die every month because
of the UN/US sanctions.  In November, 1997, Phillipe Heffnick of UNICEF
stated that 960,000 children were at risk of severe malnourishment.
We mourned for the children killed in schoolyard shootings across the
country. President Clinton expressed outrage and grief. But what about the
567,000 Iraqi children who, according to U.N. Food and Agriculture estimates
(December, 1995), have died?

7.  "The problem with the sanctions is that they haven't been enforced
tightly enough. If the U.S. and U.N. would strengthen pressure on the
country, and not allow exports to Turkey, then all of this would be over
much more quickly."

The fact that the sanctions are being enforced only in certain areas shows
that they are weapons of political pressure.  The amount of oil being
smuggled into Turkey is estimated to be less than $100 million dollars per
year.  Prior to sanctions, Iraq exported over 15 billion dollars of oil per
year.  At any rate, why has the U.S. allowed exceptions to the sanctions to
be made on behalf of Turkish political allies while refusing to make significant
exceptions on behalf of Iraqi children?
8.   "The sanctions will end as soon as Iraq complies with U.N. demands.
The ball is in their court.  Saddam Hussein can end the sanctions when he
wants.  They are the ones being difficult, and they are only hurting

The conditions for the termination of the sanctions have been ambiguous.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, after his meeting with  Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein, said that Iraq had agreed to the surrender of all weapons of
mass destruction in return for lifting the embargo. However, paragraph 22 of
the Gulf War ceasefire resolution 687 has been interpreted by the U.S.
government to indicate that all other demands by the Security Council must
now be met, including the return of all Kuwaiti territory and accounting
fomissing Kuwaiti prisoners.  Both President Clinton and Secretary of State
Albright have
publicly stated that the sanctions will remain in place as long as Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein remains in office. 

When the United States took the Japanese colonies in the Pacific as their
own and then used the islands for testing of atomic weapons and nuclear
missiles; when the U.S. invaded its southern neighbors: Cuba(1960), the
Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), and Panama (1989); when the U.S.
forcefully overthrew the governments of Iran (Mossaghdedh), Chile (Allende),
and Guatemala (Arbenz); no one said that the U.N. should punish the United
States by taking away its economic life and stability for eight years. 

The U.S. government is horrified by the tests of nuclear bombs in India and
Pakistan and fears an "Islamic bomb" that might be developed in Iran. Yet
the U.S. is the nation that has tested more weapons than any other country,
has not yet ratified the test ban treaty and won't even sign the treaty
against land mines. Based on the magnitude of military expenditures and the
devastating waste of trillions of the world's natural resources, the U.S.
government  is, as Dr. Martin Luther King said in his historic Riverside
Church address on the Vietnam War..."the greatest purveyor of violence in
the world today." 

9.  "Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people. He doesn't even
care now that the Iraqis are starving."

The fact that chemical weapons were used on Iraqi defectors may be a mirror
image of what the U.S. reportedly did to defectors during the Vietnam War.
(note recent CNN and NYT reports about US use of nerve gas against
defectors; NYT 6/9/98 "Cohen Orders Inquiry into US Nerve Gas Charges.") The
point is not which government is better or worse. It is how can we save
these children? They are dying at the rate of 5000 or more per day, and the
American people are in a position to make it stop.

10.  "The Iraqi government has stated that it will not accept humanitarian
aid. Why would they do that, and what effect can your delegation have now?"

Iraq's government doesn't want to be "on welfare." It wants to have the
right to sell its resources at a price that is viable; it wants the right to
have an economy, support its own people and see its people working again.  

Consider the port city of Basra, formerly Iraq's second largest city and a
busy center for oil export.  Unemployment now ranges as high as 90% and
Basra ranks as the third largest city now that many of its former residents
are displaced economic refugees who left Basra in desperation.  

It is still valuable for our delegations to travel to Iraq if only to
violate the travel ban.  Democracy is based on information and our
delegations return with crucial information about civilian suffering they've
witnessed in Iraq.  The travel ban is anti-democratic, because it prevents
people from seeing the consequences of U.S. policies and evaluating them for

When huge shipments of aid are flown into Iraq, the U.S. government can
manipulate public sentiment about these donations to minimize the civilian
suffering caused by sanctions.  In fact, the aid shipments are meager in
comparison with the immense needs Iraq faces.  It's understandable that
Iraqis would ask Arab nations not to send charity but rather to join in
working to lift the sanctions.  Quite possibly, some of the Gulf states who
have been Iraq's competitors on the oil market can afford to send donations
because they do not have to cope with Iraqi oil being on the market.    .

        *                       *                       *                       

We believe it has become increasingly difficult for the State Department to
justify its policy. It looks as though we may be moving toward the end of a
terrible economic warfare, a discriminating war that has targeted the most
vulnerable people in Iraq's society. At the end of a war, it is customary to
make peace with one's enemy, and to start a process of reconciliation. It is
time now to assure that the U.S. will not have a permanent enemy in the
Middle East, because there is no good reason to pursue vindictiveness.

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