The Guardian October 20, 2004

WMD: There were and there are

Juana Carrasco Martin

One can easily be connected to the other. The headline in The 
Chicago Sun Times read: "Looking for WMD?" That's easy 
enough, there are eight million chemical weapons stockpiled. They 
were not found in Iraq, but they are being warehoused in igloo-
like concrete structures in the state of Oregon, USA. They have 
been a permanent fixture in the Panamanian rain forest since the 
US bases were installed in that country, and are also maintained 
in storage facilities in Australia in quantities far greater than 
the amount Bush claimed was in Iraq in order to justify the 

These types of deadly weapons can also be found a scant four 
miles from the White House.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Quy, one of the three Vietnamese who are 
suing the manufacturers of Agent Orange, the defoliant that the 
US aggressors used during the Vietnam war, survives with death 
knocking at his door.

The former North Vietnamese sergeant major gets weaker everyday 
as a result of a liver tumour caused by the dioxin he was 
contaminated by.

More than eight million chemical weapons are kept around the 
world. They threaten not only those who may in one war or another 
be labelled as "the enemy", but also the communities, sometimes 
without their knowledge, were they are harboured, including 
deposits of Sarin and VX nerve gas, or other nerve agents 
prolifically produced by US laboratories.

Nonetheless, "chemical terrorism" is usually referred to only as 
a threat that could come from some deranged warlord, ignoring the 
fact that the well-organised and mighty US Army is the holder of 
the largest stock of chemical weapons and hasn't hesitated to use 

Quy and the other Vietnamese plaintiffs are living examples that 
these weapons existed and were used, and they are denouncing 
Agent Orange's effects on their children. These substances were 
manufactured by the Dow Chemical and Monsanto corporations. They 
are the same consortiums whose herbicides are still being used 
against cocaine fields in Latin America, contaminating vast 
extensions of farmland in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Another 30 companies are named in the case brought by the 
Vietnamese, which is scheduled for a hearing in a New York court 
in December.

In an effort to deprive the Vietnamese fighters of food and the 
shelter of the jungle, the US forces used chemicals that 
contaminated the soil and the water. The after-effects of this 
chemical warfare continue to be felt today. In Vietnam there are 
more than three million victims of the 20 million gallons of 
herbicides that were sprayed between 1962 and 1971, including 
Agent Orange, which contains dioxin.

Nightmarish birth defects are common in Vietnam and have yielded 
babies without eyes or arms, others with two heads and many with 
vital organ dysfunctions.

But the Vietnamese adversaries were not the only victims. As if a 
punishment from hell, US war veterans have also suffered from the 
effect of the chemicals. In 1984, Dow Chemical and Monsanto were 
forced to pay $180 million to US soldiers, who had ironically 
become their own "collateral damage."

Weapons there were, and there are...

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