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Two weeks ago, Senator Robert Byrd, a senior Democrat from West Virginia, bluntly asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at a Senate hearing about a report in Newsweek magazine that he had travelled to Baghdad in December 1983 with a message from then-president Ronald Reagan that Washington would provide help in the Iraqis' war with Iran.
Rumsfeld denied any knowledge of the trip, but promised to review Pentagon records. As of September 30 he had not yet contacted Byrd's office, said Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin.
Byrd then asked about US involvement in Iraq's biological weapons program. "To your knowledge, did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War?" Byrd asked. "Are we, in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?"
Rumsfeld also denied any knowledge....
US government documents showed that from 1985 to 1989 pathogenic, toxigenic, and other hazardous materials were legally exported from the United States to Iraq.
The list of biological items legally exported during that period includes botulinum toxin, anthrax, gas gangrene, and vials of West Nile fever virus and Dengue fever.
The items were shipped by the American Type Culture Collection, a non-profit group that provides biological materials to institutions around the world, and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
The information first surfaced in February 1994, when then-Senator Donald Riegle of Michigan held hearings on Gulf War syndrome, a mysterious illness suffered by many US soldiers who fought in the 1990-91 war.
The US government "approved the sales of quantities of potentially lethal biological agents that could have been cultured and grown in very large quantities in an Iraqi biological warfare program," said Riegle, speaking on the Senate floor in February 1994.
Monday, December 30, 2002
By Michael Dobbs
The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous items that had both military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague.
In 1984, according to The LA Times, the State Department-in the name of "increased American penetration of the extremely competitive civilian aircraft market"-pushed through the sale of 45 Bell 214ST helicopters to Iraq. The helicopters, worth some $200 million, were originally designed for military purposes. The New York Times later reported that Saddam "transferred many, if not all [of these helicopters] to his military."
In 1988, Saddam's forces attacked Kurdish civilians with poisonous gas from Iraqi helicopters and planes. U.S. intelligence sources told The LA Times in 1991, they "believe that the American-built helicopters were among those dropping the deadly bombs."
Mr. Rumsfeld, who ran a pharmaceutical company at the time, was tapped by Secretary of State George P. Shultz to reinforce a message that a recent move to condemn Iraq's use of chemical weapons was strictly in principle and that America's priority was to prevent an Iranian victory in the Iran-Iraq war and to improve bilateral ties.
Privately, however, the administrations of Reagan and George H.W. Bush sold military goods to Iraq, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological agents, worked to stop the flow of weapons to Iran, and undertook discreet diplomatic initiatives, such as the two Rumsfeld trips to Baghdad, to improve relations with Hussein.
A U.S. cable recording the December 20, 1983 conversation between Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein. Although Rumsfeld said during a September 21, 2002 CNN interview, "In that visit, I cautioned him about the use of chemical weapons, as a matter of fact, and discussed a host of other things," the document indicates there was no mention of chemical weapons. Rumsfeld did raise the issue in his subsequent meeting with Iraqi official Tariq Aziz.
Saudi prince calls Iran's mullah regime a 'friendly state'
Jan 10, 2005, 13:05
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz has dismissed a possible Iranian nuclear attack on Arab Gulf countries, calling Iran's mullah regime "a friendly state."
Commenting on Iran's controversial nuclear program and its perception by Gulf Cooperation Council states, Prince Sultan said he does not believe Iran "will think one day of jeopardizing the security of the peoples of the GCC states."
Saudi Arabia is the leader of the council, which also comprises the oil-rich Gulf states of Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and United Arab Emirates.
In the early 1990s, UN inspectors told the US Senate committee on banking, housing and urban affairs – which oversees American export policy – that they had “identified many US-manufactured items exported pursuant of licences issued by the US department of commerce that were used to further Iraq’s chemical and nuclear weapons development and missile delivery system development programmes”.
In 1992, the committee began investigating “US chemical and biological warfare-related dual-use exports to Iraq”. It found that 17 individual shipments totalling some 80 batches of biomaterial were sent to Iraq during the Reagan years...
two batches of anthrax and two batches of botulism ...one batch each of salmonella and E.Coli...
As well as anthrax and botulism, the USA also sent West Nile fever, brucella melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene. The shipments even went on after Saddam ordered the gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja, in which some 5000 people died, in March 1988.
The chairman of the Senate committee, Don Riegle, said: “The executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licences for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq. I think it’s a devastating record.”
Other items which were sent by the US to Iraq 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 guidance equipment.