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Old 04-05-2003, 06:59 AM   #1
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Gasmasks of Iraqi army for defense against US troops?

From the New York Times:
U.S. Use of Tear Gas Could Violate Treaty, Critics Say

President Bush has authorized American military forces to use tear gas in Iraq, the Pentagon says, a development that some weapons experts say other countries might see as a breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Defense Department said tear gas, which has been issued to American troops, would be used only to save civilian lives and in accordance with the convention, ratified by the United States in 1997. But critics say any battlefield use of tear gas would violate the treaty, offend crucial allies, including Britain, and hand Saddam Hussein a possible pretext for using chemical weapons against the United States.

These different views reflect a deliberate ambiguity in the Chemical Weapons Convention, which says that riot-control agents may not be used as a "method of warfare" but does not define this phrase.

The United States has long held that tear gas should be available for certain defensive purposes, such as when civilians are being used to screen an attack. This view is national policy and expressed in an Executive Order of 1975.

But many other countries, and some American advocates of controlling chemical arms, say a bright line should be drawn against any use of chemicals on a battlefield, so as to bar escalation from tear gas to lethal chemicals.

Michael L. Moodie, a former State Department official who helped negotiate the convention in the previous Bush administration, said the treaty language was "left deliberately vague so that the competing sides in the debate basically the U.S. on one side and much of the others on the other could both adhere to their respective national interpretations." Mr. Moodie is now president of Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute.

The issue, and the difference of views among the convention's signatories, have been thrust to the fore by Iraq's use of civilians to shield its soldiers.

Use of the agents for defensive purposes to save lives "would be consistent with the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of riot control agents as a method of warfare," a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, said in response to questions on March 28.

But the British defense minister, Geoff Hoon, said on March 27 that nonlethal chemical agents "would not be used by the United Kingdom in any military operation or on any battlefield."

Elisa D. Harris, of the University of Maryland, said use of riot control agents against Iraqi soldiers using civilians as a screen is allowed by the 1975 executive order but would contravene the Chemical Weapons Convention. Ms. Harris, who worked on chemical weapons policy for the National Security Council in the Clinton administration, said of the Pentagon, "They are taking the position that anything done consistent with the executive order is consistent with the treaty, and that is not the case."

The signatories of the Chemical Weapons Convention, she said, had barred riot control agents in war because their deployment might escalate to the use of lethal chemicals.

In four major uses of chemical weapons in the past by the combatants in World War I; by the Italians in Ethiopia; by the Egyptians in Yemen; and in the Iran-Iraq war deployment was preceded by use of nonlethal agents, Ms. Harris said.

In ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Senate wrote into its resolution a condition upholding the United States' interpretation of how riot control agents might be used, as specified by the 1975 executive order. Mr. Moodie acknowledged that other countries had different interpretations of the convention, but said, "I don't think it's appropriate to say one country's interpretation is more valid than another's."

The Senate also barred the president from altering the 1975 executive order, something the Clinton administration had hoped to do to align the American view on tear gas with that of other signatories. "By precluding the president from issuing a new executive order the Senate in effect adopted a position in conflict with the terms of the treaty," Ms. Harris said.

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, signatories forswear possession and use of chemical weapons, and undertake not to retaliate in kind if chemically attacked. Iraq has not signed the convention, but it did sign the Geneva Protocol of 1925, in which signatories deny themselves first use of chemical weapons and some reserve the right to retaliate in kind.

If the United States used riot control agents on the battlefield, Iraq might claim it was justified under the Geneva Protocol in using chemical weapons against American forces, Ms. Harris said.

The potential conflict between the executive order and the convention was a sleeping issue that began to stir in February, when Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee that he was trying to find legal ways to use nonlethal weapons in Iraq. "Absent a presidential waiver, in many instances our forces are allowed to shoot somebody and kill them, but they're not allowed to use a nonlethal riot-control agent under the law," he said.
So my argument from other threads might be valid that the Iraqi army bought new gasmasks for defensive and it's not necessaryly a proof that they want to use chemical weapons


p.s. of course this is no prove that they don't have cemical weapons or won't use them either.

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Old 04-05-2003, 07:25 AM   #2
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I think it would be taking a what was said - it could give saddam the incentive he needs to use anything he might have. Is it worth the risk?

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Old 04-05-2003, 09:56 AM   #3
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gas masks and/or suits are no proof of anything other than fear that someone was going to be using them, who we don't know
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Old 04-05-2003, 10:47 AM   #4
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OK, I agree with the Gas mask theory Klaus. How about all the nerve agent antidote?

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Old 04-05-2003, 11:06 AM   #5
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I'm no expert in chemical warfare, antidote was to cure people from poisioning?

please give me more details

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Old 04-05-2003, 12:19 PM   #6
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Klaus, Saddam has never been afraid we would use nerve agents against him. Thatt stuff is there for his regime's own testing.
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Old 04-05-2003, 12:33 PM   #7
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Some information on Atropine
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Old 04-05-2003, 01:59 PM   #8
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"State Department officials in Washington say.." huh that's not a resource i'd count on in these days..
..anyway,i still don't understand how it really works and when it's neccessary for troops to use this i'm sorry i guess i have to read more about it thanks nbcrusader for providing that link
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Old 04-05-2003, 02:03 PM   #9
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This gas masks for protection against the US theory might work if lots of nerve agent antidote wasn't found in the same area as the gas masks.

Rest of World: Why do you have all these gas masks, Saddam?

Saddam: Because the evil US empire may attack us with tear gas.

RoW: Then, uh, what about all that nerve agent antidote?

Saddam: Um....hmmmm....errr...because....the....US might attack us with nerve gas!

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Old 04-05-2003, 02:19 PM   #10
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I was posting this link because someone (i didn't find the thread anymore) was convinced that the honorable US troops would never use cemical weapons - not even non-deadly ones.

I can imagine that someone evil like Saddam expects the other side to be as evil as he is - and just because of that expects chemical attacks, anyway if you need this stuff for a chemical attack (i allways thought they'd drop it on the enemy and not emiting the own people) he might use it for that one.. wanderer said:

"... no proof of anything other than fear that someone was going to be using them.."


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