HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc9-10W
Mr. Tyler

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK military personnel he estimates were exposed to dangerous and harmful gases resulting from destroyed Iraqi chemical factories in the Gulf War; and what changes there have been in this number in the last three years. [54580]

Dr. Moonie

The Ministry of Defence is not aware of any United Kingdom military personnel having being exposed to dangerous and harmful gases resulting from destroyed Iraqi chemical factories during the Gulf conflict. However, on 10 March 1991, US forces demolished Iraqi rockets containing chemical warfare agents near the Khamisiyah Ammunition Depot, Iraq. The MOD's initial assessment of the implications for UK personnel of the demolitions was published in December 1999 in a paper entitled: "Review of Events Concerning 32 Field Hospital and the Release of Nerve Agent Arising from US Demolition of Iraqi Munitions at the Khamisiyah Depot in March 1991". The paper is available in the Library of the House and on the internet at http://www.mod.uk/issues/gulfwar/info/khamisiyah.htm. The paper's main conclusion was that up to 9,000 UK troops might theoretically have been exposed to nerve agent following the demolitions but that the level of exposure would have no detectable effect on human health.

On 25 April 2002, the US released a technical report about the Khamisiyah demolitions based on a revised theoretical model of the plume of nerve agent which may have been released by the demolitions. On 3 May 2002, the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced that the death rate for US personnel who were near Khamisiyah is similar to that for other US Gulf veterans. The US report is currently being analysed by MOD officials and the implications for UK personnel will be made public when available but at this stage there is no evidence to link the Khamisiyah demolitions with the range of symptoms of ill health being experienced by some Gulf veterans.

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