Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq's water supply: paper : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

14 October 2000 Saturday 15 Rajab 1421

Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq's water supply: paper

By Asma Rashid

JUST when US administration was whipping up their periodic campaign of slander and abuse against the Iraqi president in a desperate bid to prop up the crumbling wall of isolation around his country and to obtain the votes of the pro-Zionist lobby, the Sunday Herald of Glascow (September 17,2000) has come out with a chilling story of how the Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply during the Gulf War, causing the death of tens of thousands of people. The story is based on a 7-page document of the US Defence Intelligence report entitled "Iraq's Water Treatment Vulnerabilities."

The report issued the day after the war started and circulated to all major Allied Commands, starts with the statement that Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline, and goes on to provide a detailed survey of Iraq's river surface and ground water supply. Analyzing the mineral content of the former, it observes that drinking heavily mineralized water could result in diarrhoea and, over the long term, stones forming within the body.

Moreover, Iraqs rivers also contain biological materials, pollutants, and are laden with bacteria. Unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemic of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis and typhoid could occur. As far as its industrial application is concerned, mineralized water would encrust pipes and other equipment, eventually causing plants to shut down. Scaling in boilers would cause explosions if not prevented or removed.

Noting that the WHO standard for human consumption is 500 parts per million (PPM), the report states: At Basrah, the Shatt al-Arab has a salinity of 1500 to 2000 PPM, which has been increasing in the last 5 years.

Iraq's two main plants in Falluja and Basra producing small quantities of chlorine for industrial and municipal use either have been shut down or producing minimal outputs for lack of imported material and spare parts.

Noting that the only alternative open to Iraq is to try convincing the UN or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons the report concludes on a sinister note of satisfaction:

Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of lack of required chemicals and desalinization membranes. Incidences of disease, including epidemics will become probable particularly since the sewage system will suffer the same loss capacity with the lack of chlorine. Locally produced food and medicine could be contaminated. Lack of coagulation chemicals will cause periodic shutdown of treatment plants causing interruption of water supplies. As desalinization equipment becomes inoperable, saline water sources will become increasingly unusable.

The entire Iraqi water treatment system will not collapse precipitously but its capacities will decline steadily. Karkh, Iraq's largest water treatment plant was designed to store 30 days of supplies on site. It appears, however, that there was not water in some locations. Full degradation of the water treatment system will take at least another 6 months.

In the early hours of 17th January 1991, a deluge of American and coalition fire smashed in a trice the entire water and power supply system. As recorded by Ramsey Clark, Iraq's eight multi- purpose dams were repeatedly hit and heavily damaged. This simultaneously wrecked flood control municipal, industrial, water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric power. Four of Iraq's seven major water pumping stations were destroyed--bombs and missiles hit 31 municipal water and sewage facilities; 20 were hit in Baghdad alone. Sewage spilled into the Tigris and out into the streets of Baghdad, adding water-borne diseases to the list of killers.

In Basra, the sewage system completely collapsed. Water purification plants were incapacitated nation-wide. Those that were not damaged could not function without electricity. ..

But despite the appalling death toll of 43 days's of incessant bombing and the frightful devastation of the country infrastructure, the sanctions which expressly embargoed chlorine and all other material needed to restore the water supply and sanitation system, remained firmly in place, with horrible consequences.

The 4 fold increase in diarrhea mortality rates confirmed by Ahtissari in March 1991, had increased to 1009.02 per cent and half a million children under five had already died from 1991 to March 1998.

By keeping the sanctions fully in force, and resisting all attempts to exempt water-treatment supplies by using its veto in the UN Sanctions Committee, United States had persistently blocked the only option between life and death open to Iraq.

But US alone does not bear the blame for the planned, cold- blooded genocide of the Iraqi people. We all have blood on our hands--the United Nations which allowed itself to become an instrument for the execution of US strategic goals in the Gulf, the international community and, above all, the Muslim Arab ummah who by their active participation or silent acquiescence abetted or condemned the most heinous crime against humanity committed against an entire people, in modern history.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 14, 2000

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