Iran-Iraq War - Use of Chemical Weapons By Iraq

Use of Chemical Weapons By Iraq

See also: Halabja poison gas attack and Iraqi chemical weapons programme

In a declassified 1991 report, the CIA estimated that Iran had suffered more than 50,000 casualties from Iraq's use of several chemical weapons, though current estimates are more than 100,000 as the long-term effects continue to cause casualties.

The official estimate CIA did not include the civilian population contaminated in bordering towns or the children and relatives of veterans, many of whom have developed blood, lung and skin complications, according to the Organization for Veterans of Iran. According to a 2002 article in the Star-Ledger, 20,000 Iranian soldiers were killed on the spot by nerve gas. As of 2002, 5,000 of the 90,000 survivors continue to seek regular medical treatment, while 1,000 are hospital inpatients.

According to Iraqi documents, assistance in developing chemical weapons was obtained from firms in many countries, including the United States, West Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France.

On 21 March 1986, the United Nations Security Council made a declaration stating that "members are profoundly concerned by the unanimous conclusion of the specialists that chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian troops, and the members of the Council strongly condemn this continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which prohibits the use in war of chemical weapons." The United States was the only member who voted against the issuance of this statement. A mission to the region in 1988 found evidence of the use of chemical weapons, and was condemned in Security Council Resolution 612.

According Walter Lang, senior defence intelligence officer for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency at the time, "he use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern" to Reagan and his aides, because they "were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose." He claimed that the Defense Intelligence Agency "would have never accepted the use of chemical weapons against civilians, but the use against military objectives was seen as inevitable in the Iraqi struggle for survival". The Reagan administration did not stop aiding Iraq after receiving reports of the use of poison gas on Kurdish civilians.

The U.S. has accused Iran of using chemical weapons as well, though the allegations have been disputed. Joost Hiltermann, the principal researcher for Human Rights Watch between 1992 and 1994, conducted a two-year study that included a field investigation in Iraq, and obtained Iraqi government documents in the process. According to Hiltermann, the literature on the Iran–Iraq War reflects allegations of chemical weapons used by Iran, but they are "marred by a lack of specificity as to time and place, and the failure to provide any sort of evidence".

Analysts Gary Sick and Lawrence Potter have called the allegations against Iran "mere assertions" and stated, "No persuasive evidence of the claim that Iran was the primary culprit was ever presented." Policy consultant and author Joseph Tragert stated, "Iran did not retaliate with chemical weapons, probably because it did not possess any at the time".

At his trial in December 2006, Saddam said he would take responsibility "with honour" for any attacks on Iran using conventional or chemical weapons during the 1980–1988 war, but he took issue with charges he ordered attacks on Iraqis. A medical analysis of the effects of Iraqi mustard gas is described in a U.S. military textbook and contrasted effects of World War I gas.

Read more about this topic:  Iran-Iraq War

Famous quotes containing the words chemical and/or weapons:

    We are close to dead. There are faces and bodies like gorged maggots on the dance floor, on the highway, in the city, in the stadium; they are a host of chemical machines who swallow the product of chemical factories, aspirin, preservatives, stimulant, relaxant, and breathe out their chemical wastes into a polluted air. The sense of a long last night over civilization is back again.
    Norman Mailer (b. 1923)

    Never had he found himself so close to those terrible weapons of feminine artillery.
    Stendhal [Marie Henri Beyle] (1783–1842)