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U.S. admits germ war tests in Britain
Posted on Thursday, October 10 @ 13:23:21 EDT by JohnBrown
Submitted by sv3n

Biological and Chemical events By Charles Aldinger, Reuters Newswire
October 10th 2002 00:43 BST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has acknowledged it carried out a sweeping Cold War-era test programme of chemical and germ warfare agents in Britain and North America.

An unknown number of civilians were exposed at the time to "simulants", or what were then thought to be harmless agents meant to stand in for deadlier ones, the Defense Department said. Some of those were later discovered to be dangerous.

"We do know that some civilians were exposed in tests that occurred in Hawaii, possibly in Alaska and possibly in Florida," said William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

Also exposed or possibly exposed were civilians in or around Vieques, Puerto Rico, and an unknown number of U.S. service personnel, said Michael Kilpatrick of the Pentagon's Deployment Health Support Directorate.

As many as 5,500 members of the U.S. armed forces were involved, including 5,000 who took part in previously disclosed ship-board experiments in the Pacific in the 1960s, the Pentagon said.

So far, more than 50 veterans have filed claims related to symptoms they associate with exposure to the tests, the Department of Veterans Affairs said.

The tests of such nerve agents as Sarin, Soman, Tabun and VX were carried out from 1962 to 1973 both on land and at sea "out of concern for our ability to protect and defend against these potential threats," a Pentagon statement said on Wednesday. The tests were co-ordinated by an outfit called the Deseret Test Center at Fort Douglas, Utah.

The reports amounted to an acknowledgement of much wider Cold War testing of toxic arms involving U.S. forces than earlier admitted by the Pentagon.

"During this period there were serious and legitimate concerns about the Soviet Union's chemical and biological warfare programme," Winkenwerder added at a Pentagon news briefing.

But the tests also had applications to the offensive chemical and biological weapons stocks then maintained by the United States, he said. President Richard Nixon ordered an end to U.S. offensive chemical and biological weapons programmes in 1970.

Britain and Canada joined the United States in a series of tests on their military proving grounds from July 1967 to September 1968, a document released by the Pentagon said.

These joint exercises, known as Rapid Tan 1, 2 and 3, were designed to investigate "the extent and duration of hazard" following a Tabun, Soman or other nerve agent attack, a fact sheet said. These agents, along with VX, were sprayed in both open grassland and wooded terrain at the Chemical Defence Establishment in Porton Down, Wiltshire, the document said.

Similar tests took place at the Suffield Defence Research Establishment in Ralston, Canada, the Pentagon said.

"The weapons systems germane to this test were explosive munitions (Soman-filled), aircraft spray, rain-type munitions (using both Tabun and Soman), and massive bombs (Tabun- and Soman-filled), the fact sheet said.


Both Canada and Britain made public information about these tests years ago, Kilpatrick said, citing word received from their governments as part of the process of co-ordinating the U.S. release of information.

But in Ottawa, Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum told reporters he had just learned of the experiments.

"My understanding is that this was ... for the purposes of defence against biological or chemical weapons ... My understanding also is that no human beings were deliberately exposed to any of these agents." he said.

The department said it had contracted with the Institute of Medicine, a private group with ties to the National Academy of Sciences, to carry out a three-year, $3 million (1.92 million pounds) study of potential long-term health effects of the tests conducted aboard U.S. Navy ships.

The reports on the U.S. land tests in Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland and Florida did not all involve deadly agents and were used to learn how climate and a battle environment would affect the use of such arms, the Pentagon said.

The information was released amid U.S. charges that Iraq has continued building weapons of mass destruction despite disarmament requirements at the end of the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraq flatly denies having such weapons programmes.

Within minutes, Sarin can trigger symptoms including difficult breathing, nausea, jerking, staggering, loss of bladder-bowel control and death.

Extremely lethal VX is an oily liquid that is tasteless and odourless and considered one of the most deadly agents ever made by man. With severe exposure to the skin or lungs, death usually occurs within 10 to 15 minutes.

Related Links
More about Biological and Chemical events
News by JohnBrown
more about Canada
more about Iraq
more about Britain
more about Biological Weapons
more about Chemical Weapons
US Defense Department
The Pentagon site
U.S. Navy website site

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The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.
Re: U.S. admits germ war tests in Britain (Score: 1)
by sv3n (sven at netpimp dot com) on Thursday, October 10 @ 16:59:29 EDT
(User Info | Send a Message)
they gassed their own people.. time for a regime change according to the Bush doctrine

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