December 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Presence Of Sarin Confirmed In Gulf Deadly Toxin Found In Iraqi Rocket

Associated Press

U.N. investigators have confirmed the presence of the deadly chemical agent sarin at the site of an Iraqi weapons dump blown up by Americans during the Persian Gulf War, the Pentagon said Thursday.

“They drilled into a rocket and sarin spurted out of that rocket,” Bernard Rostker, the Pentagon’s coordinator for Gulf War illnesses, said. “So sarin was present, and they did find a cache of mustard gas.”

The Pentagon has previously spoken of chemical agent canisters found by U.N. investigators at the site of the Kamisiyah ammunition depot, but the detail of sarin shooting out of one of the rockets provided graphic evidence of the chemical’s presence.

Many Gulf War veterans blame chemical or biological weapon exposure for a series of unexplained illnesses with symptoms that include memory loss, joint and muscle pain, skin rashes and chronic fatigue.

The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, after a slow start, have acknowledged a serious health problem exists and are conducting extensive studies. Other possible causes being examined include experimental vaccines, parasites, environmental pollutants, and stress.

The government thus far says it has found no evidence of a single “Gulf War syndrome.” And until recent revelations that U.S. troops blew up the Kamisiyah dump in March 1991, the government had denied there was any evidence that Americans might have been exposed to chemical or biological agents.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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