"The Gulf War Was The Most Toxic Battle In
Western Military History"
Malcolm Hooper, Chief
scientific advisor to the British Gulf war veterans. Emeritus
professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Sunderland.
The Gulf war was the most toxic battle in western
military history. We exposed our own troops to major toxins. When I became
chief scientific advisor to the British Gulf war veterans, I naively
expected their health problems to be handled with integrity by the
authorities. Instead I came up against corrupt politics, bad medicine and
science prostituted in the service of the military.
My involvement with the veterans' fight for medical help
from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) began in 1997. I became their
representative on the supposedly independent panel for the assessment of
government research on the possible interaction between the vaccines and
Naps [anti-nerve gas tablets].
Veterans regard the combination of vaccines and Naps
tablets as the major causes of their illnesses. Some needed immediate
hospital treatment as a result of adverse reactions.
Many report having jabs for smallpox, botulism plague,
which never appeared on their notes. Medical records have been
"misplaced". But there is enough information to show that large
numbers of vaccines were given together and in breach of safety
The anthrax vaccine administered only protected troops
against six of the 22 strains which might have been used by Saddam. They
had no warning of exposure to other biological and chemical agents
liberated when Iraqi ammunition dumps were blown up in March 1991 because
vital monitoring equipment was switched off.
Exposure to these agents, thought to include Sarin and
VX nerve gas, can be linked directly to the chronic illnesses suffered by
veterans are experiencing, including multiple organ damage.
US and UK forces also fired 630,000lbs of depleted
uranium-tipped armour-piercing shells at Iraqi targets. Depleted uranium (DU)
is an extremely toxic heavy metal and the allied bombing distributed at
least 300 tonnes of DU dust over much of the battlefield.
Inhalation of these fine particles damages the kidneys,
the immune system and the nervous system. There is also an increased risk
of lymphatic cancer as it collects in the bone. Pentagon documents reveal
that the US military was aware of these risks decades ago. But the MoD
continues to disregard this evidence.
Government sanctioned tests for DU poisoning have been
crude at best. British veterans have had to travel to the US and Canada
for reliable tests, which have found DU in their bones. Some have more
than 100 times the safe level of radiation in their bodies.
Despite all this evidence, MoD-sponsored research has
focused on establishing Gulf war syndrome as another form of
post-traumatic stress disorder. Its aim has been to play down the physical
harm suffered by the veterans, because compensation for psychiatric injury
is considerably less costly. This has both demeaned their sacrifice and
left many of them in poverty.
The scientific advisory panel I sit on is only allowed
to examine government research. I have pleaded for it to be allowed to
initiate research and consider independent findings, but to no avail.
In contrast the US has accepted the existence of Gulf
war syndrome and a Congressional committee has considered the findings of
the independent experts ignored by the MoD.
In the UK one veteran has died every week since the end
of the Gulf war. Thousands more are suffering from debilitating illnesses
directly linked to their service. It is outrageous when British troops are
set to fight in another war against Iraq that the MoD will not even admit
the likelihood of Gulf war syndrome.
Reports from troops and their families suggest that jabs
are still not being safely administered. And DU weapons will be deployed
The military should accept that it is impossible to win
wars using weapons that indiscriminately damage friend and foe, soldier
and civilian, and the environment for many years ahead. You end up harming
your own side as much as the enemy.
Daily News Headlines Email Digest
News Headlines Digest