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---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Kathy Kelly <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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 lifted? 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 done?" 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 themselves." 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 themselves. 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 precisely 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. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html