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[casi] Baghdad Battered by US Gas Bombs

Baghdad Battered by US Gas Bombs
Hassan Tahsin
The United States and Britain alleged that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. Thus 
disarmament became the initial justification for a military attack on Iraq. After more than 15 days 
of war, Brigadier Vincent Brooks, a military field commander, stated at a press conference in 
Qatar: “Until today, the American forces have not found any banned weapon of mass destruction in 
Iraq ...”

If Washington and London are honest in the justifications they have presented for launching war, 
then it is neither possible nor acceptable that Baghdad and a number of other Iraqi cities should 
be shelled with chemical bombs.

Yes, that is the truth; Baghdad has been battered with chemical bombs and bombs carrying highly 
combustible depleted uranium. The website presents a detailed account of the type 
of weapons and ammunition used in the current war.

Aside from these munitions, advanced cluster bombs carrying ethylene gas have also been used. They 
are called MOABs, or massive ordnance airburst bombs, and they are essentially chemical bombs.

These ethylene bombs work by taking advantage of the effect of exploding fuel in the air. When a 
mix of fuel and air ignites, it creates a fireball and a wave of explosions that spread quickly 
over a much greater area than traditional explosives. The after-effects of the explosion are very 
similar to those of small nuclear bombs but without the radiation.

The American cluster bombs carry ethylene gas, of the kind used in the Second Gulf War, in three 
barrels, each of which weighs 100 pounds. Each barrel contains 75 pounds of ethylene oxide, whose 
industrial usage is the production of other chemical compounds such glycol ethylene and other 
highly poisonous compounds.

As for the way in which these bombs work, a fuse ignites the barrel at a height of 30 feet which 
breaks and opens the barrel, and the fuel is expelled dispersing in the air to create a cloud with 
a 60-feet radius and 8-feet depth.

The airburst spreads to areas that are difficult to attack with more traditional bombs. The cloud 
is poisonous in itself, and exposure to ethylene oxide leads to lung decay, headaches, nausea, 
vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath and even cancer and birth defects. The gas is highly 
combustible and reactive.

After this, the main charge ignites the mix leading to an explosion that spreads at speeds of 3 km 
a second — faster than the speed of sound, and the mix of fuel and air burns at 2,700 degrees 
Celsius. It is possible to increase the effect by using additional warheads.

Traditional explosives such as TNT pack greater explosive power, but the MOAB explodes over a 
longer period of time and is more destructive, especially in enclosed spaces.

The degree of pressure created by the airburst is twice that of traditional bombs, where the air 
pressure would only rise to just above 1kg per sq. cm. With the MOAB, the air pressure goes up to 
30kg per sq. cm.

The danger doesn’t end there. The explosive mix of fuel and air traveling at speeds exceeding the 
speed of sound leave behind a vacuum that sucks all air and other materials, creating a mushroom 
cloud. These explosions cause cerebral concussion or blindness, blockage of air passageways and 
collapse of lungs, tearing of eardrums, massive internal bleeding and displacement and tearing of 
internal organs, and injuries from flying objects. These are aside from the injuries mentioned 
above which result from inhalation of this poisonous ethylene oxide cloud.

It is for these reasons that human rights organizations consider these MOABs to be weapons of mass 
destruction. They don’t differentiate between civilian and military targets and their use in 
populated areas contravenes international agreements relating to war. MOABs are deemed to be 
internationally outlawed.

So does the use of this internationally banned weapon conform to the shining principles declared by 
the Anglo-American leadership in order to justify the brutal invasion of Iraq?

Will anyone answer?

Arab News Opinion 14 April 2003

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