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"Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply in Gulf War"

An investigation by Professor Thomas Nagy, a CASI contributor, was featured
in Glasgow's "Sunday Herald".  The DIA's "vulnerabilities" report can be
found here:


20 September 2000  

Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply in Gulf War

Publication Date: Sep 17 2000
The US-led allied forces deliberately destroyed Iraq's water supply during
the Gulf War - flagrantly breaking the Geneva Convention and causing
thousands of civilian deaths.

Since the war ended in 1991 the allied nations have made sure than any
attempts to make contaminated water safe have been thwarted.

A respected American professor now intends to convene expert hearings in a
bid to pursue criminal indictments under international law against those

Professor Thomas J Nagy, Professor of Expert Systems at George Washington
University with a doctoral fellowship in public health, told the Sunday
Herald: "Those who saw nothing wrong in producing [this plan], those who
ordered its production and those who knew about it and have remained silent
for 10 years would seem to be in violation of Federal Statute and perhaps
have even conspired to commit genocide."

Professor Nagy obtained a minutely detailed seven-page document prepared by
the US Defence Intelligence Agency, issued the day after the war started,
entitled Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities and circulated to all major
allied Commands.

It states that Iraq had gone to considerable trouble to provide a supply of
pure water to its population. It had to depend on importing specialised
equipment and purification chemicals, since water is "heavily mineralised
and frequently brackish".

The report stated: "Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of
pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased
incidents, if not epidemics, of disease and certain pure-water dependent
industries becoming incapacitated…"

The report concludes: "Full degradation of the water treatment system
probably will take at least another six months."

During allied bombing campaigns on Iraq the country's eight multi-purpose
dams had been repeatedly hit, simultaneously wrecking flood control,
municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric power.
Four of seven major pumping stations were destroyed, as were 31 municipal
water and sewerage facilities - 20 in Baghdad, resulting in sewage pouring
into the Tigris. Water purification plants were incapacitated throughout

Article 54 of the Geneva Convention states: "It is prohibited to attack,
destroy or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the
civilian population" and includes foodstuffs, livestock and "drinking water
supplies and irrigation works".

The results of the allied bombing campaign were obvious when Dr David
Levenson visited Iraq immediately after the Gulf War, on behalf of
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

He said: "For many weeks people in Baghdad - without television, radio, or
newspapers to warn them - brought their drinking water from the Tigris, in

"Dehydrated from nausea and diarrhoea, craving liquids, they drank more of
the water that made them sick in the first place."

Water-borne diseases in Iraq today are both endemic and epidemic. They
include typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, cholera and polio (which had
previously been eradicated), along with a litany of others.

A child with dysentery in 1990 had a one in 600 chance of dying - in 1999 it
was one in 50.

The then US Navy Secretary John Lehman estimated that 200,000 Iraqis died in
the Gulf War. Dr Levenson estimates many thousands died from polluted water.

Chlorine and essential equipment parts needed to repair and clear the water
system have been banned from entering the country under the UN "hold"system.

Ohio Democrat Representative Tony Hall has written to American Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, saying he shares concerns expressed by Unicef
about the "profound effects the deterioration of Iraq's water supply and
sanitation systems on children's health". Diarrhoeal diseases he says are of
"epidemic proportions" and are "the prime killer of children under five".

"Holds on contracts for water and sanitation are a prime reason for the
increase in sickness and death." Of 18 contracts, wrote Hall, all but one on
hold were placed by the government in the US.

Contracts were for purification chemicals, chlorinators, chemical dosing
pumps, water tankers and other water industry related items.

"If water remains undrinkable, diseases will continue and mortality rates
will rise," said the Iraqi trade minister Muhammed Mahdi Salah. The
country's health ministry said that more than 10,000 people died in July of
embargo-related causes - 7457 were children, with diarrhoeal diseases one of
the prime conditions.

In July 1989, the figure was 378. Unicef does not dispute the figures.

The problem will not be helped by plans for the giant Ilisu Dam project (to
which the British government is to give £200 million in export credit
guarantees), which will give Turkey entire control of the water flow to Iraq
and Syria.

Constructors Balfour Beatty write in their environmental impact report, that
for the three years of construction, water flow to Iraq will be reduced by
40%. Iraq has also suffered a three year drought, with the Tigris the lowest
in living memory.
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