In an article based on exclusive disclosures of top secret documents and information by U.S. government officials and agencies, publication Foreign Policy has released new information on U.S. involvement in the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq. The U.S. policy goal, which was that an Iranian victory was “unacceptable” (Reagan), involved arguably nefarious tactics in its execution.
As the Foreign Policy article and the declassified documents demonstrate, the U.S. command was aware of the use of lethal chemical agents by Saddam Hussein’s forces, including mustard agents and sarin gas.
The release of these documents comes at an uncomfortable time politically, since the U.S. is apparently determining how to react to this week’s horrific alleged chemical weapons attack on the suburbs of Damascus by Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. It has been reported that over 1000 civilians were killed in the attacks, including large numbers of women and children.
In addition, the U.S. supplied intelligence and information, including satellite imaging, to Iraqi forces.
The U.S. had previously assented to the international laws governing acceptable conventional behavior in war, primarily the 1925 Geneva Protocol (and the later Geneva Convention on Weapons). That Protocol was signed by the U.S. in 1975. Notably, it not only forbids the use of chemical weapons, but also it places an active duty on signers to intervene in order to prevent the use of such weapons.
The morality of the affair is further complicated by the fact that Iranian officials were trying to submit a case to the United Nations proving that chemical weapons had been used against them. But, they lacked the hard proof, which proof U.S. officials had and withheld.
It is also worth noting that, not long after the last use of chemical weapons against Iranian military targets, Saddam Hussein turned them on “his own” people, in Iraqi Kurdistan, in one of the worst chemical attacks in recent memory (at least until this weeks alleged Syrian attack on the suburbs of Damascus).
It was, by the way, Hussein’s chemical attack on Iraqi Kurds which was the crime against humanity that was the primary charge held against him after his capture by U.S. forces as part of the War on Terror.
Read the article including all of the documents here. Or, you can read the most revelatory documents, originally posted this morning by Foreign Policy, below.
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