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    What concerned him was the stated willingness of the US to use non-lethal toxic agents in  battle.

    Professor Perry Robinson said: "What we're really worried about is the long-term implications  for our ability to manipulate chemicals.

    "We can coerce and repress people by all sorts of chemical means that are opening up.

    "And that's the worry. To see chemicals as weapons of mass destruction is to miss the point,  because then you just think of lethality.

    Convention flouted

    "We see them as terrorists' weapons, but their use against terrorists is becoming a big issue,  like CS gas and fentanyl, used in the Moscow theatre siege.

    "Once you admit non-lethal toxic agents in war - something specifically banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention - you are on a hard road.

    "It leads to chemical weapons based on the targets' ethnicity or other factors, and results that would persist for generations."

    The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has asked President Bush to authorise the use in Iraq of riot control agents.

    The US has shipped to the Gulf both CS gas and pepper spray, whose use the convention  allows only in domestic civil disturbances.


PORT SAINT LUCIE (Florida) Palm News

Scientist hopes for no repeat of oil clean up

March 26, 2003

Environmental disaster of first Gulf War was devastating enough, HBOI expert says

By Suzanne Wentley staff writer

FORT PIERCE -- As firefighting specialists work to control a handful of oil blazes in southern Iraq, a Treasure Coast scientist recalled his efforts to help deal with the environmental damage caused by the first Gulf War, when retreating Iraqis set Kuwaiti oil fields ablaze.

In 1991, Greg Bossart, director of the marine mammal research and conservation division at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, was among a group of scientists who traveled to the gulf to help with the cleanup from more than 700 oil well fires. Iraqi forces also cut oil pipelines.

That "environmental backlash was devastating and probably will get on record as one of the worst environmental disasters ever," Bossart said.

"What's amazing about Saddam Hussein, this person has a propensity for doing just amazingly tragic things when he doesn't get his way."

When war broke out again last week, Bossart said, he was relieved to learn the Iraqi oil fields were nearly secured by allied troops, despite continued fighting in the area.

"I hope they can prevent that kind of tragedy," Bossart said. "It brought back some bad memories."

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