The purpose of this investigation was to determine if Iraq used chemical warfare agents to suppress the Shiia rebellion in southern Iraq after the Gulf War and if US forces were exposed to these agents as a result of any such use.

This investigation was prompted by reports from Gulf War veterans who, after the cease-fire, saw what they believed was evidence of Iraq’s use of blister agents—one category of chemical warfare agent—against Iraqi civilians. The reports, combined with Iraq’s long history of chemical warfare agent use, suggested that Iraq might have used these agents to suppress the post-war rebellion, possibly exposing US forces. These reports provided the impetus to begin this investigation.

We analyzed veterans’ reports, as well as refugee and military reports of possible post-war use of chemical warfare agents. We also interviewed numerous medical specialists, including doctors, nurses, and physician assistants, as well as chemical warfare experts. However, none of these specialists and professionals witnessed incidents that they believed indicated the use of chemical warfare agents. Nevertheless, many of them also emphasized the difficulty of determining whether these agents were used. Compounding the difficulties in determining whether such agents were used is the fact the locations of suspected use were, and still are, off-limits to US personnel.

We were unable to obtain definitive evidence of Iraq's post-war use of blister agents or any other kind of chemical warfare agent. Nor does it appear continued investigation is likely to yield such evidence or shed further light on this issue. With this report, we terminate this investigation but do not dismiss the possibility Iraq used chemical warfare agents against its own people. Rather, this report describes what has been learned and why continued investigation is not likely to yield evidence beneficial to our interest in the unexplained illnesses of Gulf War veterans.

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