One still recoils in horror when one comes across the picture of a 10-year old, naked Vietnamese girl who is running for her life, terror writ large on her face. It depicts the aftermath resulting from the use of Napalm bomb by the United States during the Vietnam War. Even after two decades, the clouds of possible use of chemical weapons have not subsided completely. In fact, the recent developments in the Gulf have made it clear that if a war ought to be fought between Iraq and the multinational forces led by the use of chemical weapons can’t be ruled out out-right. In addition, the consequences would be ghastlier for the entire world.
Given the proposition of a war, which would doubtless be between Iraq and the rest of the world led by the US, the defeat of Iraq is the foregone conclusion. Nonetheless, it would be naÃ¯ve to assume that the Iraqi forces would surrender their arms before they make use of all possible weapons they have to salvage their national esteem. The war-tried Iraqi forces have been fed on religious fodder, and to convince them it has been claimed that Kuwait has historically been part of Iraq. In addition, it is the Western nations, which have deprived them of their important territory. Here lies the psychology of justice and injustice. Hence, hitherto the danger of chemical weapons has become more realistic in the Gulf.
The chances of possible use of chemical weapons are further strengthened by Iraq’s track record during its war with Iran. Indeed the edge, which Iraq had achieved over Iran by using Mustard gas, can once again be irresistibly tempting against the Americans. The doubts of possible use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish population of its own makes the world believe that if the Iraqi couldn’t spare using such lethal weapon against their own population, then in a case of war they are likely to be used more recklessly and extravagantly. In fact, the recent pronouncements of Saddam Hussain claiming to have sophisticated binary chemical weapons have made it clear to the world that Saddam can go to any extent to teach the Americans a lesson. Moreover, he has nothing to match America’s formidable array of arms except the chemical weapons.
The fact that Libya has supported Saddam has set the alarm bells ringing in the Western camp. It is a well-known fact that Libya has imported advanced chemical technology from a West German firm. The US has accused Libya of possessing chemical weapons. In his hatred towards the U.S>, it can be discounted that Libyan President Gaddafi may cooperate with Iraq and in fact help Iraq in stockpiling chemical weapons. Syria and even Iran are believed to possess weapons, which according to Western military experts are already in ample stock with Iraq.
Iraq also possesses biological weapons. Biological weapons employ a terrible and lethal combination of organisms and naturally occurring toxins, which are packaged inside small bombs and are delivered by either aircraft or artillery shells, whereby the germs would be released in the mist of infectious droplets that victims could inhale. Here quantity does not matter; even one gram of bacterium called ‘Fularemia’ is capable of producing thousands of deadly diseases.
However, when the world is on the brink of US-Iraq war, it will be very naÃ¯ve to assume that we in India will and can remain unaffected. The imminent danger of exposure to deadly chemical weapons will be for those Indians who are working in Saudi Arabia. UAE and other Middle East countries. It is a well-known fact that such weapons can harm people over a large distance. Realising such threat the European countries have forewarned their nationals to vacate the high-risk areas. Fearing Iraqi attack the Israeli Government has months back distributed gas masks.
Unfortunately the successive Indian governments as be it that of V.P.Singh or the Chandra Shekar, have adopted a lackadaisical attitude towards the Gulf crisis. The safety of Indians in the Gulf has been paid little attention recently unlike, the Western nations have asked their nationals to vacate the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. India should at no cost discount the adverse effects of such weapons because it has already seen the tragic Bhopal gas disaster, which led to more than 3000 deaths.
It is high time that Indian pioneer in many fields on international arena, mobilise like-minded countries especially in the Nam for a total and comprehensive ban