(en) Bio-Chemical Weapons History

Dave Cull (dcull@mail.island.net)
Mon, 17 Nov 97 17:20:44

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Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 10:10:32 -0600 From: Zoltan Grossman <mtn@igc.apc.org> To: wisc-eco <wisc-eco@igc.apc.org> Subject: Bio-Chemical Weapons History


400s BC. Spartan Greeks use sulfur fumes against enemy soldiers.

1346 BC. Crimean Tatars catapult plague-infected corpses into Italian trade settlement.

1800s. Blankets infected with smallpox deliberately given to Native Americans, causing widespread epidemics.

1907. Hague Convention outlaws chemical weapons; U.S. does not participate.

1914. World War I begins; poison gas produces 100,000 deaths, 900,000 injuries.

1920s. Britain uses chemical weapons in Iraq "as an experiment" against Kurdish rebels seeking independence; Winston Churchill "strongly" backs the use of "poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes."

1925. Geneva Protocol prohibits gas and bacteriological warfare; most countries that ratify it prohibit only the first use of such weapons.

1935. Italy begins conquest of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), using mustard gas.

1939. World War II begins; neither side uses bio-chemical arms, due to fears of retaliation in kind.

1941. U.S. Enters World War II; President Roosevelt pledges U.S. will not be first to use bio-chemical weapons.

1945. Japanese military discovered to have conducted biological warfare experiments on POWs, killing 3000. U.S. shields officers in charge from war crimes trials, in return for data.

1947. U.S. possesses germ warfare weapons; President Truman withdraws Geneva Protocol from Senate consideration.

1949. U.S. dismisses Soviet trials of Japanese for germ warfare as "propaganda." Army begins secret tests of biological agents in U.S. cities.

1950. Korean War begins; North Korea and China accuse U.S. of germ warfare--charges still not proven. San Francisco disease outbreak matching Army bacteria used on city.

1951. African-Americans exposed to potentially fatal simulant in Virginia test of race-specific fungal weapons.

1956. Army manual explicitly states that bio-chemical warfare is not banned.

1959. House resolution against first use of bio-chemical weapons is defeated.

1962. Chemical weapons loaded on U.S. planes during Cuban missile crisis.

1966. Army germ warfare experiment in New York subway system.

1969. Utah chemical weapons accident kills thousands of sheep; President Nixon bans further production. U.N. General Assembly bans use of herbicides (plant killers) and tear gasses in warfare; U.S. one of three opposing votes. U.S. has caused tear gas fatalities in Vietnamese guerrilla tunnels.

1971. U.S. ends direct use of herbicides such as Agent Orange; had spread over Indochinese forests, and destroyed at least six percent of South Vietnamese cropland, enough to feed 600,000 people for a year.

1972. Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. Cuba accuses CIA of instilling swine fever virus that leads to death of 500,000 hogs.

1974. U.S. finally ratifies 1925 Geneva Protocol.

1975. Indonesia annexes East Timor; planes spread herbicides on croplands.

1979. Washington Post reports on U.S. program against Cuban agriculture since 1962, including CIA biological warfare component.

1980. U.S. intelligence officials allege Soviet chemical use in Afghanistan, while admitting "no confirmation."

1981. U.S. accuses Vietnam and allies of using mycotoxins (fungal poisons) in Laos and Cambodia. Some refugees report casualties; one analysis reveals "yellow rain" as bee feces. Israel bombs Iraqi nuclear reactor, leading to Iraqi decision to build chemical weapons.

1984. U.N. confirms Iraq using mustard and nerve gasses against Iranian "human wave" attacks in border war; State Department issues mild condemnation, yet restores diplomatic relations with Iraq, and opposes U.N. action against Iraq. Bhopal fertilizer plant accident in India kills 2000; shows risks of chemical plants being damaged in warfare.

1986. U.S. resumes open-air testing of biological agents.

1987. Senate ties in three votes on resuming production of chemical weapons; Vice President Bush breaks all three ties in favor of resumption.

1988. Iraq uses chemical weapons against Kurdish minority in Halabjah; U.S. continues to maintain agricultural credits with Iraq; President Reagan blocks congressional sanctions against Iraq.

1989. Paris conference of 149 nations condemns chemical weapons, urges quick ban to emerge from Geneva treaty negotiations; U.S. revealed to plan poison gas production even after treaty signed.

1990. U.S., Soviets pledge to reduce chemical weapons stockpiles to 20 percent of current U.S. supply by 2002, and to eliminate poison gas weapons when all nations have signed future Geneva treaty. Israel admits possession of chemical weapons; Iraq threatens to use chemical weapons on Israel if it is attacked.

1991. U.S. and Coalition forces bomb at least 28 alleged bio- chemical production or storage sites in Iraq during Gulf War, including fertilizer and other civilian plants. CNN reports "green flames" from one chemical plant, and the deaths of 50 Iraqi troops from anthrax after air strike on another site. New York Times quotes Soviet chemical weapons commander that air strikes on Iraqi chemical weapons would have "little effect beyond neighboring villages," but that strikes on biological weapons could spread disease "to adjoining countries." Czechoslovak chemical warfare unit detects sarin nerve gas during air war. Egyptian doctor reports outbreak of "strange disease" inside Iraq. U.S. troops use explosives to destroy Iraqi chemical weapons storage bunkers after the war.

1992. Reports intensify of U.S. and Allied veterans of Gulf War developing health problems, involving a variety of symptoms, collectively called Gulf War Syndrome. U.N. sanctions intensify civilian health crisis inside Iraq, making identification of similar symptoms potentially difficult.

1993. President Clinton continues intermittent bombing and missile raids against Iraqi facilities; U.N. inspectors step up program to dismantle Iraqi weapons.

1995. Japanese cult launches deadly sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo subway system.

1996. Congressional hearings on Gulf War Syndrome focuses on Iraqi storage bunker destruction, rather than other possible causes, and does not call for international investigation of symptoms among Iraqis.

1997. Cuba accuses U.S. of spraying crops with biological agents . Iraq expels U.S. citizens in U.N. inspection teams, which are allowed to continue work without Americans, but choose to evacuate all inspectors. U.S. mobilizes for military action.

Compiled from articles in "Z" magazine by Stephen Shalom and Noam Chomsky (February 1991) and Zoltan Grossman (March 1991). Zoltan Grossman is a cartographer/geographer and writer on ethnic relations and geopolitics, based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Feel free to circulate or to publish (with attribution and copy). Zoltan Grossman, 731 State St., Madison WI 53703 USA; Tel. 608-246-2256; E-mail: mtn@igc.apc.org Web: http://ns1.netphoria.com/wort/shows/apa.html#zoltan

LIST OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONS (1890-1990s) at http://www.neravt.com/left/invade.htm

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