[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 68
SEPTEMBER 8 1988
”As a result of our evaluation of the situation, the United States Government is convinced that Iraq has used chemical weapons in its military campaign against Kurdish guerrillas. Any use in this context is abhorrent and unjustifiable.”
State Department Spokesman Charles E. Redman
Today, State Department officials said that US intelligence agencies have confirmed Iraq’s use of chemicals in its recent drive against Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.
Until now, the US Government has always stated that it had no conclusive proof that Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds.
In a meeting with Iraqi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Saadoun Hammadi, Secretary of State George Shultz is now accusing Iraq of “unjustifiable and abhorrent” use of poison gas against the Kurds. After the meeting, Hammadi characterized the charge as ”absolutely baseless.”
Shultz had presided over a strong pro-Iraq tilt in US policy and, in spite of the fresh accusations, continues to oppose sanctions against Iraq.
”The Secretary stressed to Dr. Hammadi that we attach great importance to the further development of our relationship with Iraq, but that we do not intend to pursue this course if illegal Iraqi use of chemical weapons and other human rights abuses continue,” Redman said.
This evidence was shared with the British government. Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe described the report as compelling. Since at least 1984, Iraq has used mustard gas, a lethal nerve gas called Tabun and Cyanide gas.
Although both Congress and the executive branch have agreed on the facts since the beginning, they could never agree about the policy conclusions to be drawn during or after the eight years long conflict. US is hardly the only country having turned a blind eye on the Iraqi war crimes and crime of genocide against the Kurdish minority.
France could hardly criticize Baghdad as Paris sold the planes and trained the pilots that were used in bombing the Kurdish villages. Unwilling to compromise her commercial interested in Iraq, Britain is mute over these matters. West Germany, having sold the insecticide plants used to produce chemical weapons, lacks the moral authority needed to point the finger at Saddam.
As the Reagan administration had removed Iraq from the State Department list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, US companies were allowed to export chemical precursors to the Saddam regime.
For instance, US Companies Alcolac International and Philips provided Thiodiglycol, a precursor of mustard gaz.
On March 12 2008, the Iraqi government announced that it would take legal actions against the suppliers of chemical used in the Halabja attacks. Both Alcolac International and Philips have been reorganized.
The Geneva Protocol of 1925 forbids the use of any chemical weapon. However, officials at the State Department and the White House are speaking of technical ambiguities in international law regarding the use of such weapons.
”There’s nothing in international law that prohibits that a Sovereign nation uses these weapons within its own borders ” said an Administration official.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
U.S. ASSERTS IRAQ USED POISON GAS AGAINST THE KURDS , September 8, 1988