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[casi] claim that US drew up battle plans for gas attacks

> US 'backed Saddam's use of chemical war on Iran'
> By Paul McGeough, Herald Correspondent in New York
> August 19 2002
> President George Bush's case for war against Saddam Hussein has been
> undermined by disclosures that the United States acquiesced in Iraq's past
> use of chemical weapons and that Russia is on the verge of signing a $A73
> billion economic co-operation deal with Baghdad.
> Mr Bush and his advisers have built much of their case against Saddam
> Hussein on his use of chemicals in the 1981-88 Iraq-Iran war.
> But yesterday former US officers said the Iraqis regularly built chemical
> attacks into battle plans that were drawn up for them by the US.
> A veteran of the program told The New York Times the Pentagon "wasn't so
> horrified by Iraq's use of gas. It was just another way of killing
people -
> whether with a bullet or with phosgene, it didn't make any difference".
> Another officer said Iraqi forces "had gotten better and better" at using
> chemical weapons. They "were integrated into their fire plan for any large
> operation, and it became more and more obvious".
> The war was fought when Ronald Reagan was president, but his White House
> team included the father of today's president, then vice-president George
> Bush, and a national security adviser who is today's Secretary of State,
> Colin Powell.
> That the US supported Iraq in its war against Iran, in the hope of
> any spread of the Iranian Islamic revolution to the oil-rich Persian Gulf,
> is not news. But the detailed allegation that chemical weapons were
> integrated into battle plans that were prepared by the US is new, and it
> could not have come at a worse time for the Bush campaign to march on
> Baghdad. A spokesman for Mr Powell denied the allegation, but would give
> detail.
> In a 1988 battle in which Iraq retook the strategic Fao Peninsula, US
> advisers helped plan the attack and, according to the Times, a US defence
> intelligence officer who inspected the battlefield reported that areas of
> chemical contamination had been cordoned off and that it was littered with
> the packing for chemical antidotes that the Iraqis had administered to
> themselves in case the gas was blown back on their positions.
> The Moscow-Baghdad trade deal was revealed at the same time as US
> confirmed that the US ambassador to Germany had complained to Berlin about
> Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's refusal to join the campaign against Iraq.
> The Russian deal, which officials said could be signed as early as the end
> of this month, is to last for five years and covers oil, electricity,
> chemicals, irrigation and railways.
> Its rationale is based on the fact that much of Iraq's infrastructure was
> built by the old Soviet Union and that Iraq still owes Moscow billions in
> unpaid debts.
> The deal will be a serious irritant to Washington, because at a time when
> is attempting to isolate Iraq it implicitly says that Moscow believes
> Baghdad to be a bankable international business partner.
> Moscow, like Berlin, refuses to back any attack on Iraq.
> At the weekend Mr Bush acknowledged a growing and powerful Republican
> working to head off his war plans. He was particularly stung by the
> intervention in the debate by Brent Scowcroft, who served as national
> security adviser to his father as president.
> Mr Bush promised a process of consultation, but he went on: "America needs
> to know I'll be making up my mind based on the latest intelligence and how
> best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies."
> Working on the known closeness and respect between Mr Scowcroft and the
> father of the president, some analysts have formed the view that he warned
> off Bush junior with a lengthy and detailed argument in The Wall Street
> Journal last week with the knowledge and blessing of Bush senior.
> An official was quoted as saying of the Scowcroft article: "I think the
> first president Bush is telling his son: 'Be prudent, George'. We are
> prudent."

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