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[casi] Sunshine Project reports on US plans for gas in Iraq

Below are two news releases from the Sunshine Project, an organisation
campaigning against bio and chemical weapons, on US plans to use chemical
weapons in Iraq. See The first release
contains an audio clip of Rumsfeld's February 5th testimony before the US
House Armed Services Committee in which he reveals these plans.

Please do all you can to get the media to expose this. It is particularly
astonishing that the US government would contemplate using chemical weapons
against unarmed civilians in a "war" whose stated object is to rid Iraq of
chemical weapons. With enough media exposure and public pressure, we might
be able to prevent these crimes.

Jonathan Edwards

The Sunshine Project
News Release
7 February 2003

Please also see an update to this release (11 Feb):
Pentagon Perverts Pharma with New Weapons

US Plans for Use of Gas in Iraq

(Austin and Hamburg, 7 February 2003) - Top US military planners are
preparing for the US to use incapacitating biochemical weapons in an
invasion of Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard
Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed the plans in February
5th testimony before the US House Armed Services Committee. This is the
first official US acknowledgement that it may use (bio)chemical weapons in
its crusade to rid other countries of such weapons. The Sunshine Project and
other nonprofits have warned since late 2001 that the "War on Terrorism" may
result in the United States using prohibited biological and chemical
armaments, thereby violating the same treaties it purports to defend. The US
announcement creates grave concerns for the future of arms control
agreements, particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Rumsfeld stated that plans are being made for multiple applications,
including use of gas or aerosols on unarmed Iraqi civilians, in caves, and
on prisoners. Rumsfeld reiterated the confusing, typical US official
language about so-called "non-lethal" biochemical weapons. Rumsfeld
described applications of a "riot agent" that clearly imply the complete
incapacitation of victims, combatant and non-combatant, in armed conflict -
a definition and usages that are at odds with the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC). Rumsfeld acknowledged US ratification of the CWC but
expressed "regret" about its restrictions, stating that the US has "tangled
ourselves up so badly" on policy for use of incapacitating biochemical
weapons. Rumsfeld indicated that - in his opinion - if President Bush signs
a waiver of long-standing restrictions on US use of incapacitating
chemicals, that the US will be able to legally field them in Iraq and


Choose format:

mp3 | aiff
(6 min. 41 sec.)

The speakers:

The first speaker, who poses the question, is Rep. Meehan of Massachusetts.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld replies (including a follow-up question from
Meehan), followed by remarks from Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.

The focal points for US development of these weapons are the Joint
Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate in Quantico, Virginia, and the US Army
Soldier Biological Chemical Command, located at Edgewood/Aberdeen Proving
Ground, Maryland. Following their capture in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the
US has used incapacitating chemicals on suspected terrorist "detainees". In
October 2002, Russian Special Forces used a so-called "non-lethal"
incapacitating biochemical weapon when storming the Palace of Culture
Theater in Moscow. It resulted in the deaths of over 100 hostages and was
used to facilitate the extrajudicial execution of as many as 50 Chechen
separatists. Before the War on Terrorism began, British officials stated
that they would not cooperate with the US military in missions where US
troops used incapacitating chemicals.

The Sunshine Project has established an online clearinghouse of dozens of
documents from the US research program on these weapons, obtained under the
Freedom of Information Act.

The Sunshine Project
News Release
11 February 2003

Pentagon Perverts Pharma with New Weapons
Liability and Public Image in the Pentagon's Drug Weapons Research

The conventional view is that pharmaceutical research develops new ways to
treat disease and reduce human suffering; but the Pentagon disagrees.
Military weapons developers see the pharmaceutical industry as central to a
new generation of anti-personnel weapons. Although it denied such research
as recently as the aftermath of the October theater tragedy in Moscow, a
Pentagon program has recently released more information that confirms that
it wants to make pharmaceutical weapons. And on February 5th, US Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went a big step further. Rumsfeld, himself a
former pharmaceutical industry CEO (1), announced that the US is making
plans for the use of such incapacitating biochemical weapons in an invasion
of Iraq (see News Release, 7 February 2003).

The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) and the US Army's Soldier
Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) are leading the research. Of interest
to the military are drugs that target the brain's regulation of many aspects
of cognition, such as sense of pain, consciousness, and emotions like
anxiety and fear. JNLWD is preparing a database of pharmaceutical weapons
candidates, many of them off-the-shelf products, and indexing them by
manufacturer. It will choose drugs from this database for further work and,
according to Rumsfeld, if President Bush signs a waiver of existing US
policy, they can be used in Iraq. Delivery devices already exist or are in
advanced development. These include munitions for an unmanned aerial vehicle
or loitering missile, and a new 81mm (bio)chemical mortar round.

Many of the Pentagon’s so-called "nonlethal" (bio)chemical weapons
candidates are pharmaceuticals. Different names are used for these weapons
("calmatives", "disabling chemicals", "nonlethal chemicals", etc.). Used as
weapons, all minimally aim to incapacitate their victims. They belong to the
same broad category of agents as the incapacitating chemical that killed
more than 120 hostages in the Moscow theater. That agent was reported to be
based on fentanyl, an opiate that is also among the weapons being assessed
by JNLWD. In the US, pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold by Johnson & Johnson’s
subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica. Remifentanil, a closely related drug, is a
GlaxoSmithKline product.

US military contractors have identified a host of other agents manufactured
by a Who's Who list of the pharmaceutical industry. In 2001 weapons
researchers at the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State
University assessed the anesthetic drugs isoflurane and sevoflurane,
produced by Syngenta and Abbott Laboratories, respectively. The same Penn
State team recommended other drugs for "immediate consideration," some of
which are in the chart below. The Pentagon is also interested in industry’s
new ways to apply (bio)chemicals through the skin and mucous membranes,
which could bring previously impractical drug weapons closer to reality by
overcoming technical hurdles related to delivery of certain agents.

Incapacitating (Bio)Chemical Weapons Candidates Cited by Pentagon

fentanyl analgesic Johnson & Johnson (and others)
carfentanil veterinary anesthetic Wildlife Pharmaceuticals
dexmeditomidine anesthetic Abbott Laboratories
isoflurane anesthetic Abbott Laboratories
sevoflurane anesthetic Syngenta
pramipexole Parkinson's Disease Pharmacia
CI-1007 experimental Pfizer (2)
lesopitron experimental anxiolytic Esteve Pharmaceuticals
MKC-242 experimental antidepressant Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation
ketamine anesthetic Pfizer (and others)
diazepam (Valium) anxiolytic Hoffman-LaRoche (and others)

Questioning Industry's Role: The silence of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
Association (PhRMA) and its members is becoming increasingly conspicuous.
The Pentagon research described here has been underway for more than two
years. It’s no secret that pharma is queuing up for lucrative biodefense
contracts; but does industry's enthusiasm for defense dollars extend to

If the pharmaceutical industry assists or accepts weaponization of its
products, it will negatively transform the public's view of the nature of
pharmaceutical research. Yet PhRMA's silence raises fundamental questions
about industry's commitment to peaceful research. Will it work to prevent
its drugs from being weaponized? Or are weapons viewed as an emerging new
market? Will industry cooperate with the Pentagon to design weapons?
Military researchers want such collaborations. What if drug stockpiles are
diverted into weapons? Will industry be complicit by continuing to look the
other way?

Liability: Serious liability questions will be raised if these drugs are
used as weapons in Iraq or elsewhere. Scores of innocent hostages died in
the Moscow theater. Many survivors are likely suffering lasting, even
permanent effects. If the US uses these weapons, more casualties are
inevitable.(3) So long as the pharmaceutical industry does not make every
possible effort to prevent the Pentagon’s perversion of its products,
manufacturers should be held liable for the damage that weaponized drugs



(1) From 1977 to 1985, Rumsfeld was the President and CEO of Searle
Pharmaceuticals. After Rumsfeld’s tenure, Searle was bought by Monsanto,
which itself was subsequently taken over by Pharmacia. Pharmacia kept Searle
when it spun-off Monsanto’s agricultural division as ‘new’ public company.

(2)A merger between Pfizer and Pharmacia is pending.

(3)A recent, concise paper explaining why these weapons will always cause
substantial casualties has been published by the Federation of American
Scientists. It can be downloaded at:

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