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Mr. SHELBY. Mr. President, I am here today to issue a report following my investigation into the possible presence of chemical and biological weapons agents in the theater of operations during the Persian Gulf war. Additionally, I will discuss the possible connection between service in the Persian Gulf and the unexplained illness affecting thousands of veterans and their families.

When Iraqi forces, at the direction of Saddam Hussein, crossed into Kuwait on August 2, 1990, they set off a chain reaction of events that resulted in the assembling of the largest coalition of forces since the Second World War. Countries that had been on opposite sides of the cold war were now joined with the expressed goal of driving Saddam Hussein's troops out of Kuwait.

The United States led this effort with over 600,000 members of our armed services, including over 200,000 reservists.

At the time of the Iraqi invasion, there was a strong belief among the coalition forces that chemical and even biological agents would be used as weapons by Iraq.

Within a year after the highly successful Desert Storm operation, reports surfaced of a mystery illness affecting many veterans, primarily members of the National Guard and Reserve, who served in Saudi Arabia.

This group is experiencing symptoms commonplace to many known illnesses. However, in the case of the Gulf War veterans, we have not been able to diagnose the causes of the illnesses and the illnesses themselves have not responded to any known treatments.

I have seen firsthand the devastating, frustrating, and debilitating effects that this illness has had on many of these veterans. Citizens who were once healthy and able bodied can no longer hold jobs or participate as active members of society.

Little progress has been made even though Congress mandated the establishment of a Desert Shield-Desert Storm registry, and treatment centers were created for the Gulf war syndrome. Veterans, increasingly frustrated by the inability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to treat their illness, began to seek treatment outside of the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs medical community.

My involvement in this issue has spanned 2 years.

Early on, I met with a group of veterans after a town meeting that I held and pledged that I would do everything in my power to get them proper treatment and to find the causes of their ailments.

The anxiety and fear experienced by our ill veterans was intensified throughout this period by constant reports in foreign and domestic media about the presence of chemical weapons agents during the Gulf war.

I cannot imagine a greater fear than that experienced by someone who suffers from a mysterious illness and believes it may have been caused by exposure to chemical weapons.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Force Requirements and Personnel of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I heard from afflicted veterans and saw first-hand the symptoms of these ailments.

Following this hearing, Dr. Charles Jackson of the Tuskegee Alabama Veterans Medical Center diagnosed a patient as suffering from Gulf war syndrome and chemical-biological warfare exposure. In response to this announcement and pressure from Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs established a pilot program to test Persian Gulf veterans for possible exposure to chemical weapons agents.

As a result of these events, Senator Sam Nunn, chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, sent me, along with people on our staff and the people from DOD, to Europe and then to the Middle East to investigate the possible presence of chemical and biological weapon agents during Operation Desert Storm, as well as the possible connection between service in the Persian Gulf and the unexplained illness affecting thousands of veterans.

Mr. President, I went to Europe to determine the validity of the two then reported detections of chemical warfare agents by Czech soldiers. Instead, there were not only two, but five separate detections of chemical weapons agents in the Persian Gulf.

No one with whom I spoke could provide a solution to the mysterious illness;

however, they could not rule out a possible link between the presence of chemical agents and the gulf war syndrome. Only the U.S. Department of Defense and the British Government have denied that chemical agents could have caused the illness.

In light of my involvement, I have come to five major conclusions which I would like to share with you today.

First, I have no doubt that chemical agents, accurately verified by the Czech chemical detection units, were present in the theater of operations during the Persian Gulf war.

Both Czech and French forces detected and verified the presence of nerve and mustard agents at low levels during Desert Storm.

Second, we may never be able to determine the origin of these chemical agents. While, I believe that we can rule out Iraqi Scud or Frog missiles, and Iraqi artillery, there still exists several possibilities. For example, the low-level chemical presence could have resulted from United States or coalition forces bombing Iraqi chemical weapons facilities or caches of Iraqi weapons on the Saudi border.

It is also feasible that a cloud of nerve agent, dissipating in intensity, could have traveled under the correct climate conditions. There is also the possibility of a training accident involving chemical agents among coalition forces. Finally, it is possible that the detections were the result of Saudi officials attempting to test the abilities of the Czechs whom they had engaged to assist in chemical detections.

Third, although a direct connection between the existence of low-levels of chemical agents in the theater of operations and the Persian Gulf syndrome cannot be established at this time, such a connection cannot and should not be discounted. Little information is available on exposure to low levels of chemical agents, but I believe that the work being done at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is on the right track in this area. We must give it our full support.

Fourth, the Department of Defense has proven reluctant to pursue or, in certain instances, to provide the information necessary to prove or disapprove allegations about the presence of chemical agents in the theater of operations. After my contact with our allies, we found that various chemical detections were reported to central command headquarters and were included in operational logs. Only then, and after traveling half-way around the world, did Department of Defense officials admit that they had been aware of these same instances.

While I have not yet determined the reason for this apparent aversion to full disclosure by DOD, the staff working on this issue from our committee has been constantly challenged by the Department's evasiveness, inconsistency, and reluctance to work toward a common goal here.

Finally, Mr. President, and I believe alarmingly, the Persian Gulf medical records of members of the 24th Naval Reserve Battalion are inexplicably missing from their files.

Mr. President, despite the Czech and French detections and numerous reports, the Department of Defense is still reluctant to admit that there were chemical weapons agents present in the Persian Gulf. I cannot understand why they have taken this stand since we fully expected to be confronted with chemical weapons when we went there.

I can only conclude, Mr. President, that when dealing with the Department of Defense on this issue, you have to ask the right question to receive the right answer. I do not believe they understand that we are only seeking the truth in a way to help our veterans. Therefore, I am going to continue to ask question after question until we find the right answer from DOD.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that, following my remarks, first, a copy of my letter to Sam Nunn, chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, be printed in the Record; second, a copy of my interim report provided in December to Senators Nunn and Thurmond be printed in the Record; third, a copy of my report on my trip to the Middle East to continue the investigation into the Persian Gulf syndrome; and, fourth, my conclusions and recommendations in detail on the Persian Gulf syndrome be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Committee on Armed Services,
Washington, DC, March 16, 1994.

Hon. Sam Nunn,
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

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