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Soldiers’ Perspectives on the Use of Chemical Weapons

MILITARISM, 26 August 2013

by David – WikiLeaks Press

Ivaw

On June 10, 2013, Iraq war veteran Daniel Somers wrote a final letter to his loving wife and family before taking his own life. Somers, who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he was forced by the US military to participate in crimes against humanity as well as cover up of these horrific crimes.  He did not reveal any details of the crimes, but stories from many other veterans corroborate his story.

One of the most controversial, disputed aspects of Operation Iraqi Freedom has been the use of chemical weapons. White Phosphorus, also known by the chemical name Acrylonitrile is classified as highly flammable, very toxic, corrosive, and dangerous to the environment, but is not illegal. White phosphorus is one of the main chemicals found in incendiary weapons used and manufactured by the US and Israeli military. Recently an Israeli Human Right Group and other Civil Society Groups sought unsuccessfully to ban Israeli Defense Forces use of certain white phosphorus in certain populated areas. High mortality rates are associated with white phosphorus exposure due to severe burns. Other effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, confusion, convulsions, coma, and jaundice. Risk of birth defects and other complications to unborn children depend upon the concentration levels and the effects on the mother. Pregnant women are advised to avoid exposure to white phosphorus.

Depleted Uranium is another controversial chemical, though also not illegal, used in munitions by the US military. Kidney damage has been seen in humans and animals after inhalation, ingestion of uranium compounds. Scientific studies on animals, exposed to high levels of uranium during pregnancy, showed induced early deaths and birth defects in the young.

A US Soldier, Red Six, posted a blog documenting 2004 Operation Phantom Fury. Chilling evidence of the US Military’s use of white phosphorus on the Iraq city of Fallujah is documented within this blog. The following documentation is taken from the blog. In preparation for the assault, artillery guns dropped white phosphorus or “Willy Pete” on the city. The FA guys later told us this was the newest WP in the way it deployed. I watched the center of the city where the WP continued to drop over the assaulting forces. In the heart of the assault, the city was on fire from the WP. It still burned bright orange.

United States Sergeant, 1st Class Dillard Johnson, holds the record for the most kills – 2,746, during the Iraq War. In a recent NY Post interview, Dillard Johnson provided evidence of Depleted Uranium used during the Iraq War. Dillard Johnson stated during the interview “He believes he developed the cancer from inhaling particles from armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) shells — which turn radioactive when superheated upon firing”.

Alejandra Rishton, United States Army, 35th Signal Brigade, 18th Airborne Corps, stated in an article published by Iraq Veterans Against The War (IVAW), “Using Depleted Uranium munitions on civilian populations deprives the women of their most basic humanity by robbing them of their reproductive capabilities. There are regions in Iraq where eighty to ninety percent of the infants born are dying within the first year of life from exposure to DU weapons”.

Military use of White Phosphorus for the purpose of marking, illumination of targets, creation of smoke screens and incendiary purposes are all legal according to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1925 Geneva Protocol on the use of poisonous gases. Depleted Uranium weapons are not weapons designed to cause death or other harm via toxic properties of toxic chemicals and their precursors’ as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Since Depleted Uranium is not a weapon designed with the intention of poisoning as a means of combat, it is not covered by the 1925 Geneva Protocol ban on the use of poisonous gases. To establish a case for war crimes, evidence would have to be provided that prove the harmful effects caused from the fire and smoke of White Phosphorus munitions constitute chemical action on life processes as defined by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Soldiers of conscience are coming forward against wars. They strive to inform the public that what has transpired during these wars should be considered a crime.

“I hope to learn enough to find a way to show others the need to end all of our illegal and immoral aggressions. It is time for us to work together, to spread awareness and to spare future generations from having to live through this massive systematic abuse of power”
– Alejandra Rishton

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