Pentagon documents from the Gulf War give further credence to assertions that the Iraqis used chemical weapons, possibly sickening large numbers of American troops, a veterans group says.
But the Pentagon insisted Tuesday that the conclusions of the Gulf War Veterans of Georgia were “totally false,” and reasserted its position that there were no chemical agents used in the 1991 war.
The Georgia group used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain 11 pages from the Pentagon’s Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Log. It cited several references to assumed chemical attacks and postwar discoveries of what appeared to be chemical munitions.
“This is very, very damaging evidence,” said Paul Sullivan, president of the veterans group. “This is not to imply that everyone was gassed, but clearly it took place in limited places.”
At issue is whether exposure to chemical agents might be responsible in part for the mysterious ailments, called Persian Gulf Syndrome, that have afflicted thousands of veterans returning from the war.
A Jan. 18 log entry stated “Israeli police confirmed nerve gas, probably GF (a kind of sarin).”
Another on Jan. 20 refers to a Czech reconnaissance report of nerve gas “flowing down from factory-storage bombed in Iraq.” On the same day, there was artillery fire against U.S. positions in Saudi Arabia and “they think it’s chemical.”
The Pentagon, in a statement Tuesday, rejected the findings of the Georgia veterans, saying the log was a record of unconfirmed initial reports that were later reviewed and discounted.
It said no nerve agent attack occurred against Israel and that the Jan. 20 report of chemical agents flowing down from bombed factory sites was in error.
No chemical munitions were ever located in Kuwait or occupied positions of Iraq, it said. “The Department of Defense has not changed its position, i.e., there were no chemical agents used in the Gulf War.”
The log also refers to several cases in March, after the war ended, in which allied troops discovered suspected Iraqi chemical minefields and munitions bunkers and in which one American suffered what appeared to be mustard gas burns.
Iraq’s possible use of chemical and biological agents has been the subject of congressional hearings. Service members testified that chemical detectors went off during air raids, and that many troops suffered respiratory and skin problems.