The US has a sordid history with chemical weapons, and US denunciations of other nations’ use of chemical weapons is rank hypocrisy. From Brian Kalman at southfront.org:
Before pointing the finger at Russia and Syria, the U.S. should answer for its own record
Written by Brian Kalman exclusively for SouthFront; Brian Kalman is a management professional in the marine transportation industry. He was an officer in the US Navy for eleven years.
The world is once again witnessing the height of U.S. hypocrisy as members of the U.S. State Department ratchet up anti-Russian and anti-Syrian rhetoric surrounding the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the UK. Ambassador Nikki Haley has warned Syria, Iran and Russia that they will be held accountable for their pre-determined use of chemical weapons in Idlib on innocent civilians. No evidence was provided to support her threats. The United States carried out cruise missile strikes on two previous occasions, and each time provided no evidence to prove their assertion that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in attacking civilians, nor was any rational reason given for such an obviously irrational decision on the part of the Syrian state. No evidence has ever been provided to justify the clear international crime of aggression committed by the United States on these two earlier occasions. Now, the UK and the U.S. are both attempting to accuse the Russian government of using chemical weapons in an alleged attempted assassination of a Russian national on UK soil. Once again, no real evidence has been presented, only assertions and hearsay.
On Thursday September 13th, Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh declared before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that the United States would level the most severe of sanctions against Russia, including breaking all diplomatic ties, if Russia refused to admit its guilt in perpetrating the Skripal assassination fiasco and refused to submit to International inspections by the OPCW of its alleged chemical weapons and biological weapons programs. She stated that Russia would have to meet this requirement by an arbitrary November 4th deadline, set by the United States in accordance with a U.S. law, not an international law. H.R. 1724 – Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 specifies in part:
Title III: Control and Elimination of Chemical and Biological Weapons – Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 – Declares it is U.S. policy to: (1) seek multilaterally coordinated efforts with other countries to control the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons; and (2) strengthen efforts to control chemical agents, precursors, and equipment.
Requires the President to use the U.S. export control laws to control the export of defense articles, defense services, goods, and technologies that he determines would assist a country in acquiring the capability to produce or use such weapons.
Amends the Export Administration Act of 1979 to require the Secretary of Commerce to establish a list of goods and technology that would assist a foreign government or group in acquiring chemical or biological weapons. Requires a validated export license for the export of such items to certain countries of concern.
Requires the President to impose certain sanctions against foreign persons if he determines that they knowingly contributed to the efforts of a country to acquire, use, or stockpile chemical or biological weapons. Declares such sanctions to include: (1) denial of U.S. procurement contracts for goods or services from such foreign persons; and (2) prohibition against importation of products from such persons. Authorizes the President to waive imposition of such sanctions if he determines that is in the national security interests of the United States.
Amends the Arms Export Control Act to set forth similar provisions.
Requires the President to make a determination with respect to whether a country has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals. Authorizes specified congressional committees to request the President to make such determination with respect to the use of such weapons.
Requires the President to impose the following sanctions against foreign countries that have been found to have used such weapons: (1) termination of assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (except humanitarian assistance and agricultural commodities); (2) termination of arms sales and arms sales financing; (3) denial of U.S. credit; and (4) prohibition of the export of certain goods and technology. Directs the President to impose at least three of the following additional sanctions unless such countries cease the use of such weapons and provide assurances that they will not use, and will allow inspections with respect to, such weapons: (1) opposition to the extension of multilateral development bank assistance; (2) prohibition of U.S. bank loans (except loans for food or agricultural commodities); (3) further export prohibitions; (4) import restrictions; (5) suspension of diplomatic relations; and (6) termination of air carrier landing rights. Provides for the removal and waiver of such sanctions.
Requires the President to submit to the Congress annual reports on the efforts of countries to acquire chemical or biological weapons.
Repeals certain duplicative provisions of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993.
It is important to note that nowhere in this law is there a legal commitment made by the United States itself, to eliminate its own chemical and biological weapons capabilities. This is not an oversight, yet speaks to the imperial hypocrisy of the United States and an acknowledgement that it alone has been the largest perpetrator of chemical weapons use and proliferation for more than 50 years. It currently maintains the largest stockpile of both chemical and biological warfare agents of any nation on the planet, and continues to expand its biological weapons research and development on a scale far larger than any other country.
International Obligations and the OPCW
Russia is one of 192 signatories (state and non-state parties) of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, along with the United States. On September 27th, 2017 it was announced by Russia and the OPCW, that Russia had verified the total destruction of its large chemical weapons stockpile dating from the years of the Soviet Union, estimated at 39,967 metric tons of chemical agents. Russia was obligated to do this by 2020, yet was able to accomplish the task three years ahead of schedule. Under the original agreement, both the U.S. and Russia were obligated to accomplish this by 2007, but both nations required an extension of the deadline.
Although admitting to a total stockpile of 28,000 metric tons of chemical agents, the U.S. admits to destroying 90% of its chemical arsenal. The U.S. requested and was granted an extension out to 2023 to achieve verified elimination of 100% of its chemical weapons. The only other signatory of the law other than the United States not to have already met the requirements is Iraq. It must be stated that much of the chemical weapons in the Iraqi arsenal are based on the chemical warfare agents supplied to the Saddam Hussein regime during the height of the Iran-Iraq war by the United States and other western nations. Saddam used some of these U.S. supplied weapons to murder thousands of Iraqi Kurds in the town of Halabja in 1988. Estimates range between 3,000 – 7,000 deaths and over 10,000 injured.
Not only did the United States, and France for that matter, provide chemical weapons to the Saddam regime, but the U.S. intelligence agencies provided the Iraqi military with vital battlefield intelligence, including satellite imagery in aiding them in the war. The U.S. was well aware that the Saddam regime had used chemical weapons in at least four offensives during the war. Of course they knew, they had facilitated the transfer of these weapons to help the Iraqis prosecute a war of aggression against Iran. Declassified CIA documents clearly show that the United States was well aware that the Iraqis had used chemical weapons at least four times between 1983 and 1988. Iran had accused Iraq of using chemical weapons, and tried to build a case to bring before the United Nations. The United States withheld its knowledge of course, and continued to aid its ally in perpetrating these crimes against humanity.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has lied through her teeth repeatedly in her statements before the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly. She has stated repeatedly that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people in Ghouta in 2013, Khan Shaykhun in 2017 and Douma in 2018, yet has not supplied one shred of evidence beyond dubious social media posts of unknown provenance. She has also stated that the United States is certain that it could only be the Syrian government, as no other party in the conflict zone could possibly possess chemical weapons. Here’s the problem with her statement. Firstly, the United States and the OPCW verified that Syria destroyed or surrendered all of its chemical weapons agents. On its official website, the OPCW states:
“Veolia, the US firm contracted by the OPCW to dispose of part of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile, has completed disposal of 75 cylinders of hydrogen fluoride at its facility in Texas.
This completes destruction of all chemical weapons declared by the Syrian Arab Republic. The need to devise a technical solution for treating a number of cylinders in a deteriorated and hazardous condition had delayed the disposal process.
Commenting on this development, the Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, said: “This process closes an important chapter in the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapon programme as we continue efforts to clarify Syria’s declaration and address ongoing use of toxic chemicals as weapons in that country.”
Secondly, the OPCW and the UN have both verified that opposition forces within Syria have used chemical agents as weapons on numerous occasions during the conflict. Not only has Carla Del Ponte, UN human rights investigator, former UN Chief Prosecutor and ICC attorney stated that opposition forces had used chemical weapons, but also the former OPCW head field investigator in Syria Jerry Smith stated to the BBC that he found it very unlikely that the government perpetrated these chemical attacks.. As recently as October of last year the U.S. State Department itself seemed to acknowledge the same truth in its warning to U.S. citizens traveling to Syria. The travel warning stated:
“Tactics of ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, small and heavy arms, improvised explosive devices, and chemical weapons.
They have targeted major city centers, road checkpoints, border crossings, government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, in Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.”
U.S. History of using Chemical Weapons and Supporting Those that Do
The last country in the world that should lecture anyone on the possession and use of WMDs is the United States. Not only is the United States the only country in history to ever target civilians with multiple atomic bombs, it has used chemical weapons against the populations of Southeast Asia and Iraq in the past. Now, they were smart enough not to use mustard gas and anthrax, but the accumulative effects of Agent Orange and depleted uranium in these populations has been devastating, and will not only cause great harm and pain for these populations, but will leave the land poisoned for generations.
The United States sprayed copious quantities of TCDD (dioxin tetrachlordibenzo-para-dioxin), a class 1 carcinogen all over regions of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in an attempt to defoliate the jungle environment, and thus rob their enemy of an environment they excelled at fighting in and hiding in as part of Operation Ranch Hand. Known as Agent Orange, the chemical was banned in the U.S. in 1970. Although extremely hard to quantify, the devastating effects of dioxin exposure in the Vietnamese population are easily identifiable, as the same effects were observed in U.S. veterans that returned home after exposure to the toxin. Abnormally high levels of various cancers and debilitating birth defects are present in Southeast Asian populations in areas of greatest use of Agent Orange. Dioxins remain in the soil and water table, as they do not degrade naturally. Dioxin also bio-accumulates in the fatty tissues of animals and thus remains in the food supply.
The United States learned little from the crime it perpetrated in Southeast Asia, nor did it seem to care as it repeated a similar offense in two successive invasions of Iraq. Having failed to achieve its aim of defeating Iran through its brutal Iraqi proxy, even after helping the Saddam Hussein regime in chemical warfare attacks against Iranian soldiers and Iraqi Kurdish civilians, the United States largely ignored the numerous atrocities carried out by one of its favorite dictators. The U.S. would turn on its erstwhile henchman in 1990, after Saddam decided to attack one of its favorite corrupt emirates in the region. The resulting 1991 invasion of Iraq saw the heavy use of depleted uranium armored piercing rounds. Depleted uranium is extremely dense, and thus good for piercing hardened steel or composite armor. The follow-on invasion of 2003 brought more death and destruction, and more depleted uranium.
The U.S. has not funded the reclamation and disposal of depleted uranium contaminated scrap in Iraq. The new Iraqi government has started cleaning up the approximately 350 sites identified as having depleted uranium contamination in the country, mostly around Basra and Baghdad, yet also scattered over the entire country. It is estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 metric tons of depleted uranium used in various munitions fired during the invasion of 2003 alone. It is hard to narrow down the exact amount as the U.S. military has failed to provide any definitive numbers. Iraqi doctors have recorded and reported higher cases of cancers in adult patients and increased birth defects in children being born in Iraq since the invasion took place. The U.S. government seems determined to undermine any attempts to draw direct correlations between this recorded phenomenon and its use of depleted uranium in two successive wars in Iraq. It has also fought all attempts by U.S. war veterans suffering from various cancers and neurological diseases from their similar exposure in both wars.
Continued Support of War Criminals
Nikki Haley fails to acknowledge the historic role of the United States government’s support of some of the world’s most horrible regimes in the past. From the Khmer Rouge and Saddam Hussein then, to Saudi Arabia and Tahrir al-Sham now, the United States has supported many of the world’s most deplorable violators of human rights. Yet Nikki Haley has the arrogance and delusional belief that she has the moral high ground in chastising Syria and Russia before the U.N.?
Just this week U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo clarified that the Saudi and UAE have acted in good faith in taking steps to reduce civilian casualties in their military operations in Yemen and that the U.S. military would keep providing both material and direct support to both nations in prosecuting their illegal war. U.S. manufactured and supplied bombs are being used to kill civilians in Yemen regularly, amounting to an estimated 15,000 killed or injured civilians over a period of three years. This does not take into account the deaths and suffering associated with the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the Saudi-led coalition destroying virtually all infrastructure in the Houthi controlled part of the country. I am sure that it is also just another “unintended consequence” that al-Qaeda has expanded and strengthened its position in Yemen as a direct result of the conflict. When will any member state in the U.N. finally tell Nikki Haley that the Security Council must acknowledge that al-Qaeda has always been a proxy of Saudi Arabia and the United States?
Nikki Haley continues to claim that Russia is directly facilitating an impending humanitarian disaster and war crime in the impending Syrian military operations to retake Idlib province, destroy a host of ISIS and al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups and liberate hundreds of thousands of civilians. She said the same thing during the battle to liberate Aleppo. Her lies were revealed when the SAA and Russia finally liberated the city and Syrian civilians who were kept as prisoners there by the Islamic terrorists were finally free of the horror of their captivity. Is it no wonder that tens of thousands of Syrian refugees displaced by the conflict are now returning to their home country?
Apparently Nikki Haley sees no issue at all in Imperial America supporting Saudi Arabia and the UAE killing Yemeni civilians by the thousands in Yemen. The U.S. not only supplies the bombs, but directly provides in-flight refueling of the aircraft and the intelligence used to conduct the “precision” strikes that target schools, hospitals, funerals, and even school bus loads of children. Does this surprise anyone? U.S. coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Raqqa and Mosul killed an estimated 6,000 civilians. In Raqqa, U.S. aircraft conducted 90% of the airstrikes, and the U.S. fired at least 30,000 artillery rounds into the city. The U.S. has yet to pay any political or legal price for its indiscriminant destruction of these cities.
The Russian Response
Russia needs to finally accept the reality that there is nothing to be gained by negotiating, or attempting to collaborate with the United States in solving problems. It’s like a shepherd using a wolf to defend his flock, or a detective enlisting the aid of a criminal to solve a crime that the criminal is a co-conspirator in perpetrating. It is illogical in the extreme. The Russian U.N. mission needs to call out Nikki Haley and the U.S. on its own deplorable record and hypocrisy and while seeking the aid of other member states, must also realizing that most of them are bought-off by Washington. Hasn’t Haley repeatedly threatened to stop giving money to nations that do not support her resolutions?
The Russians need to realize that they can never have a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship with the political and financial elites that control the United States. Russia will always find a friend in the American people, but Washington? This same elite despises the American people more than it does Putin or Assad. If it wasn’t for working class American citizens fed up with the U.S. establishment elite, we would likely already be in a direct war with Russia, China and Iran. I hope that the Russian political and military leadership understands this. Stop trying to placate Washington and start preparing to defend your nation. The Deep State will not stop at Ukraine or Syria. They desire the complete subjugation of Russia and a return to the Yeltsin days, or worse.