The United States and Britain alleged that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. Thus disarmament became the initial justification for a military attack on Iraq. After more than 15 days of war, Brigadier Vincent Brooks, a military field commander, stated at a press conference in Qatar: “Until today, the American forces have not found any banned weapon of mass destruction in Iraq ...”
If Washington and London are honest in the justifications they have presented for launching war, then it is neither possible nor acceptable that Baghdad and a number of other Iraqi cities should be shelled with chemical bombs.
Yes, that is the truth; Baghdad has been battered with chemical bombs and bombs carrying highly combustible depleted uranium. The website www.bbcarabic.com presents a detailed account of the type of weapons and ammunition used in the current war.
Aside from these munitions, advanced cluster bombs carrying ethylene gas have also been used. They are called MOABs, or massive ordnance airburst bombs, and they are essentially chemical bombs.
These ethylene bombs work by taking advantage of the effect of exploding fuel in the air. When a mix of fuel and air ignites, it creates a fireball and a wave of explosions that spread quickly over a much greater area than traditional explosives. The after-effects of the explosion are very similar to those of small nuclear bombs but without the radiation.
The American cluster bombs carry ethylene gas, of the kind used in the Second Gulf War, in three barrels, each of which weighs 100 pounds. Each barrel contains 75 pounds of ethylene oxide, whose industrial usage is the production of other chemical compounds such glycol ethylene and other highly poisonous compounds.
As for the way in which these bombs work, a fuse ignites the barrel at a height of 30 feet which breaks and opens the barrel, and the fuel is expelled dispersing in the air to create a cloud with a 60-feet radius and 8-feet depth.
The airburst spreads to areas that are difficult to attack with more traditional bombs. The cloud is poisonous in itself, and exposure to ethylene oxide leads to lung decay, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath and even cancer and birth defects. The gas is highly combustible and reactive.
After this, the main charge ignites the mix leading to an explosion that spreads at speeds of 3 km a second — faster than the speed of sound, and the mix of fuel and air burns at 2,700 degrees Celsius. It is possible to increase the effect by using additional warheads.
Traditional explosives such as TNT pack greater explosive power, but the MOAB explodes over a longer period of time and is more destructive, especially in enclosed spaces.
The degree of pressure created by the airburst is twice that of traditional bombs, where the air pressure would only rise to just above 1kg per sq. cm. With the MOAB, the air pressure goes up to 30kg per sq. cm.
The danger doesn’t end there. The explosive mix of fuel and air traveling at speeds exceeding the speed of sound leave behind a vacuum that sucks all air and other materials, creating a mushroom cloud. These explosions cause cerebral concussion or blindness, blockage of air passageways and collapse of lungs, tearing of eardrums, massive internal bleeding and displacement and tearing of internal organs, and injuries from flying objects. These are aside from the injuries mentioned above which result from inhalation of this poisonous ethylene oxide cloud.
It is for these reasons that human rights organizations consider these MOABs to be weapons of mass destruction. They don’t differentiate between civilian and military targets and their use in populated areas contravenes international agreements relating to war. MOABs are deemed to be internationally outlawed.
So does the use of this internationally banned weapon conform to the shining principles declared by the Anglo-American leadership in order to justify the brutal invasion of Iraq?
Will anyone answer?
Arab News Opinion 14 April 2003