US Intelligence Classified White Phosphorus as 'Chemical Weapon'
Peter Popham and Anne Penketh, The Independent UK
Wednesday 23 November 2005
The Italian journalist who launched the controversy over the American use
of white phosphorus (WP) as a weapon of war in the Fallujah siege has accused the Americans of hypocrisy.
Ranucci, who made the documentary for the RAI television channel aired two weeks ago, said that a US intelligence assessment
had characterised WP after the first Gulf War as a "chemical weapon."
The assessment was published in a declassified
report on the American Department of Defense website. The file was headed: "Possible use of phosphorous chemical weapons by
Iraq in Kurdish areas along the Iraqi-Turkish-Iranian borders."
In late February 1991, an intelligence source reported,
during the Iraqi crackdown on the Kurdish uprising that followed the coalition victory against Iraq, "Iraqi forces loyal to
President Saddam may have possibly used white phosphorous chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels and the populace in Erbil
and Dohuk. The WP chemical was delivered by artillery rounds and helicopter gunships."
According to the intelligence
report, the "reports of possible WP chemical weapon attacks spread quickly among the populace in Erbil and Dohuk. As a result,
hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled from these two areas" across the border into Turkey.
"When Saddam used WP it was
a chemical weapon," said Mr. Ranucci, "but when the Americans use it, it's a conventional weapon. The injuries it inflicts,
however, are just as terrible however you describe it."
In the television documentary, eyewitnesses inside Fallujah
during the bombardment in November last year described the terror and agony suffered by victims of the shells . Two former
American soldiers who fought at Fallujah told how they had been ordered to prepare for the use of the weapons. The film and
still photographs posted on the website of the channel that made the film - rainews24.it - show the strange corpses found
after the city's destruction, many with their skin apparently melted or caramelised so their features were indistinguishable.
Mr. Ranucci said he had seen photographs of "more than 100" of what he described as "anomalous corpses" in the city.
US State Department and the Pentagon have shifted their position repeatedly in the aftermath of the film's showing. After
initially saying that US forces do not use white phosphorus as a weapon, the Pentagon now says that WP had been used against
insurgents in Fallujah. The use of WP against civilians as a weapon is prohibited.
Military analysts said that there
remain questions about the official US position regarding its observance of the 1980 conventional weapons treaty which governs
the use of WP as an incendiary weapon and sets out clear guidelines about the protection of civilians.
director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, called for an independent investigation of the use of WP during the
Fallujah siege. "If it was used as an incendiary weapon, clear restrictions apply," he said.
"Given that the US and
UK went into Iraq on the ground that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people, we need to make sure
that we are not violating the laws that we have subscribed to," he added.
Yesterday Adam Mynott, a BBC correspondent
in Nassiriya in April 2003, told RAI News 24 that he had seen WP apparently used as a weapon against insurgents in that city. www.uruknet.info?p=18120
Total Pages: 1
IIR 2 243 1050 91/POSSIBLE USE OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL
RECORD NUMBER: 16134
ENVELOPE CDSN = LGX854 MCN = 91107/02896 TOR = 911070142
RTTCZYUW RUEKJCS0771 1070142-CCCC--RUEALGX.
R 170142Z APR 91
FM JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKCCG/USDP-CCC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
R 160504Z APR 91
CP ZAMA JA//IAGPD-OP-CM//
TO AIG 9149
RUCJACC/USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//J2//
RUSNNOA/USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
FT MONMOUTH NJ
RUAGAAA/CDR501STMIBDE SEOUL KOR//IABDK-PH//
RUAGAAA/CDR524THMIBN SEOUL KOR//IABDK-CX-PC//
WESTPAC KAMI SEYA JA//CSG//
RUEOADA/9TIS SHAW AFB SC//INO//
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU
SERIAL: (U) IIR 2 243 1050 91
/*********** THIS IS A COMBINED MESSAGE ************/
BODY PASS: (U) DIA FOR
ITF/JIC/OICC/; DA FOR DAMI-FII-E
COUNTRY: (U) IRAQ (IZ); TURKEY (TU); IRAN (IR).
SUBJ: IIR 2 243 1050 91/POSSIBLE USE
OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL
WEAPONS BY IRAQ IN KURDISH AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN
BORDERS; AND CURRENT SITUATION
OF KURDISH RESISTANCE AND REFUGEES
WARNING: (U) THIS IS AN INFORMATION REPORT, NOT FINALLY EVALUATED
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
REQS: (U) T-8C2-2650-01-90.
(b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ][ (b)(7)(D) ]
SUMMARY: IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS
WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE
IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. KURDISH RESISTANCE
IS LOSING ITS
STRUGGLE AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN'S FORCES. KURDISH REBELS AND
REFUGEES' PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS AND PERCEPTIONS
TEXT: 1. DURING APRIL 1991, THE SOURCE
BROTHER (SUBSOURCE) [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ][ (b)(7)(D) ]
. DURING THIS PHONE CONVERSATION,
THE SOURCE WAS ABLE TO OBTAIN THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ON THE
PRESENT SITUATION IN
KURDISH AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN
IRAQ'S POSSIBLE EMPLOYMENT OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL
WEAPONS -- IN LATE FEBRUARY 1991, FOLLOWING THE COALITION FORCES'
VICTORY OVER IRAQ, KURDISH REBELS STEPPED UP THEIR
STRUGGLE AGAINST IRAQI FORCES IN NORTHERN IRAQ. DURING THE BRUTAL
THAT FOLLOWED THE KURDISH UPRISING, IRAQI FORCES LOYAL
PRESIDENT SADDAM ((HUSSEIN)) MAY HAVE POSSIBLY USED WHITE
(WP) CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDISH REBELS AND THE
POPULACE IN ERBIL (GEOCOORD:3412N/04401E) (VICINITY OF IRANIAN
AND DOHUK (GEOCOORD:3652N/04301E) (VICINITY OF IRAQI
BORDER) PROVINCES, IRAQ. THE WP CHEMICAL WAS DELIVERED BY
ROUNDS AND HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS (NO FURTHER INFORMATION
THIS TIME). APPARENTLY, THIS TIME IRAQ DID NOT USE NERVE
THEY DID IN 1988, IN HALABJA (GEOCOORD:3511N/04559E), IRAQ,
THEY WERE AFRAID OF POSSIBLE RETALIATION
FROM THE UNITED STATES
(U.S.) LED COALITION. THESE REPORTS OF POSSIBLE WP CHEMICAL WEAPON
ATTACKS SPREAD QUICKLY AMONG
THE KURDISH POPULACE IN ERBIL AND
DOHUK. AS A RESULT, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF KURDS FLED FROM THESE
TWO AREAS AND CROSSED
THE IRAQI BORDER INTO TURKEY. IN RESPONSE TO
THIS, TURKISH AUTHORITIES ESTABLISHED SEVERAL REFUGEE CENTERS
TURKISH-IRAQI BORDER. THE SITUATION OF KURDISH REFUGEES IN
THESE CENTERS IS DESPERATE -- THEY HAVE NO SHELTERS, FOOD, WATER,
MEDICAL FACILITIES (NO FURTHER INFORMATION AT THIS TIME).
IRAQI GOVERNMENT ULTIMATUM TO KURDS REBELS AND
REFUGEES -- ON OR AROUND 2 APRIL 1991, RADIO BAGHDAD ISSUED AN
TO THE KURDISH REBELS AND REFUGEES WHO FLED IRAQ AND
SETTLED IN REFUGEE CENTERS IN TURKEY. IN THE BROADCAST, IRAQI
WARNED THE KURDS THEY HAD 10 DAYS TO RETURN TO THEIR
TOWNS AND VILLAGES, OR ELSE FACE COMPLETE ANNIHILATION. THE IRAQI
ALSO PROMISED THE KURDS THAT NO RETALIATORY ACTION WOULD
BE TAKEN AGAINST THEM IF THEY WOULD COMPLY WITH THIS ORDER (NO
INFORMATION AT THIS TIME).
C. KURDISH REBELS ARE LOSING
IN THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST
SADDAM HUSSEIN'S FORCES -- KURDISH REBELS WHO WERE FIGHTING IN
NORTHERN IRAQ WERE FORCED TO
WITHDRAW INTO TURKEY BY TROOPS LOYAL
TO SADDAM HUSSEIN. POOR ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND LACK OF
HEAVY WEAPONS, AMMUNITION,
AND SUPPLIES ARE THE PRIMARY CAUSES OF
KURDISH LATEST DOWNFALL. THE ONLY GROUP CURRENTLY FIGHTING SADDAM
IN NORTHERN IRAQ IS THE "PESHMERGEH" (FRONT
WARRIORS). HOWEVER, THIS GROUP IS ARMED ONLY WITH SMALL ARMS SUCH
MACHINE-GUNS, AK-47 RIFLES AND UNKNOWN TYPES OF PISTOLS
KURDISH REBELS' EXPECTATION OF RECEIVING HELP FROM
U.S. LED COALITION FORCE -- THE KURDISH RESISTANCE'S DECISION TO
UP AND FIGHT HUSSEIN'S FORCES WAS TRIGGERED BY THE
OVERWHELMING MILITARY POWER DISPLAYED BY THE COALITION DURING
STORM" AND THE PROPAGANDA BROADCASTS OF VOICE OF AMERICA.
KURDISH REBELS AND REFUGEES REALLY BELIEVED THAT EVENTUALLY THE
FORCE WOULD COME TO HELP THEM IN THEIR FIGHTING AGAINST
IRAQI FORCES. AFTER LEARNING OF U.S. PRESIDENT BUSH'S "STAY OUT
IRAQ INTERNAL AFFAIRS" POLICY, KURDISH REBELS AND REFUGEES FELT AS
THEY WERE SET UP AND LET DOWN BY THE COALITION
FORCE (NO FURTHER
INFORMATION AT THIS TIME).
HUSSEIN'S REASON NOT TO USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS
AGAINST THE U.S. LED COALITION FORCE DURING "DESERT STORM" -- THE
PERCEPTION AMONG THE KURDS IS THAT PRESIDENT HUSSEIN DID
NOT USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE COALITION BECAUSE HE WAS
THAT ALLIES WOULD RETALIATE BY USING BATTLEFIELD NUCLEAR
WEAPONS (NO FURTHER INFORMATION AT THIS TIME).
(SOURCE COMMENT) - IRAQ USED WP IN ERBIL
AND DOHUK BECAUSE THEY WANTED THE KURDS TO PANIC AND FLEE FROM THE
[ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ][ (b)(7)(D) ]
(SOURCE COMMENT) - MOST OF THE SMUGGLING OF REFUGEES
ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS OCCURRED AT NIGHT.
(FIELD COMMENT) - ACCORDING TO THE TIMES' WORLD
ATLAS, THE TWO IRAQI PROVINCES ERBIL AND DOHUK ARE ALSO CALLED
AND DIHOK RESPECTIVELY.
//IPSP: (U) PGW 2650//.
//COMSOBJ: (U) 211//.
ADMIN PROJ: (U) 252132.
INSTR: (U) US NO.
(U) 500TH MI BDE.
ACQ: (U) TOKYO, JAPAN (910409).
DISSEM: (U) FIELD: NONE.
WARNING: (U) REPORT CLASSIFIED