- The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology
and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
of mass destruction.
- Reports by the US Senate's committee on banking, housing
and urban affairs -- which oversees American exports policy -- reveal that
the US, under the successive administrations of Ronald Reagan and George
Bush Snr, sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever
germs and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992, as well as germs
similar to tuberculosis and pneumonia. Other bacteria sold included brucella
melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which
causes gas gangrene.
- Classified US Defence Department documents also seen
by the Sunday Herald show that Britain sold Iraq the drug pralidoxine,
an antidote to nerve gas, in March 1992, after the end of the Gulf war.
Pralidoxine can be reverse engineered to create nerve gas.
- The Senate committee's rep orts on 'US Chemical and Biological
Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq', undertaken in 1992 in the wake
of the Gulf war, give the date and destination of all US exports. The reports
show, for example, that on May 2, 1986, two batches of bacillus anthracis
-- the micro-organism that causes anthrax -- were shipped to the Iraqi
Ministry of Higher Education, along with two batches of the bacterium clostridium
botulinum, the agent that causes deadly botulism poisoning.
- One batch each of salmonella and E coli were shipped
to the Iraqi State Company for Drug Industries on August 31, 1987. Other
shipments went from the US to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission on July
11, 1988; the Department of Biology at the University of Basrah in November
1989; the Department of Microbiology at Baghdad University in June 1985;
the Ministry of Health in April 1985 and Officers' City, a military complex
in Baghdad, in March and April 1986.
- The shipments to Iraq went on even after Saddam Hussein
ordered the gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja, in which at least 5000
men, women and children died. The atrocity, which shocked the world, took
place in March 1988, but a month later the components and materials of
weapons of mass destruction were continuing to arrive in Baghdad from the
- The Senate report also makes clear that: 'The United
States provided the government of Iraq with 'dual use' licensed materials
which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system
- This assistance, according to the report, included 'chemical
warfare-agent precursors, chemical warfare-agent production facility plans
and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment, biological
warfare-related materials, missile fabrication equipment and missile system
- Donald Riegle, then chairman of the committee, said:
'UN inspectors had identified many United States manufactured items that
had been exported from the United States to Iraq under licences issued
by the Department of Commerce, and [established] that these items were
used to further Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development and its
missile delivery system development programmes.'
- Riegle added that, between January 1985 and August 1990,
the 'executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licences
for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq. I think that is a devastating
- It is thought the information contained in the Senate
committee reports is likely to make up much of the 'evidence of proof'
that Bush and Blair will reveal in the coming days to justify the US and
Britain going to war with Iraq. It is unlikely, however, that the two leaders
will admit it was the Western powers that armed Saddam with these weapons
of mass destruction.
- However, Bush and Blair will also have to prove that
Saddam still has chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities. This looks
like a difficult case to clinch in view of the fact that Scott Ritter,
the UN's former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, says the United Nations
des troyed most of Iraq's wea pons of mass destruction and doubts that
Saddam could have rebuilt his stocks by now.
- According to Ritter, between 90% and 95% of Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction were des troyed by the UN. He believes the remainder
were probably used or destroyed during 'the ravages of the Gulf War'.
- Ritter has described himself as a 'card-carrying Republican'
who voted for George W Bush. Nevertheless, he has called the president
a 'liar' over his claims that Saddam Hussein is a threat to America.
- Ritter has also alleged that the manufacture of chemical
and biological weapons emits certain gases, which would have been detected
by satellite. 'We have seen none of this,' he insists. 'If Iraq was producing
weapons today, we would have definitive proof.'
- He also dismisses claims that Iraq may have a nuclear
weapons capacity or be on the verge of attaining one, saying that gamma-particle
atomic radiation from the radioactive materials in the warheads would also
have been detected by western surveillance.
- The UN's former co-ordinator in Iraq and former UN under-secretary
general, Count Hans von Sponeck, has also told the Sunday Herald that he
believes the West is lying about Iraq's weapons programme.
- Von Sponeck visited the Al-Dora and Faluja factories
near Baghdad in 1999 after they were 'comprehensively trashed' on the orders
of UN inspectors, on the grounds that they were suspected of being chemical
weapons plants. He returned to the site late in July this year, with a
German TV crew, and said both plants were still wrecked.
- 'We filmed the evidence of the dishonesty of the claims
that they were producing chemical and biological weapons,' von Sponeck
has told the Sunday Herald. 'They are indeed in the same destroyed state
which we witnessed in 1999. There was no trace of any resumed activity