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Iraq | Anti-War

Did the US Support The Gassing Of The Kurds? Evidence Suggests US Republicans Did?
by repost
Tuesday Mar 11th, 2003 6:02 PM
"The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against 'Kurdish insurgents' as well... Soon thereafter, Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.'s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil. Rumsfeld also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, and the two agreed, 'the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests.' "

By the summer of 1983 Iran had been reporting Iraqi use of using chemical weapons for some time. The Geneva protocol requires that the international community respond to chemical warfare, but a diplomatically isolated Iran received only a muted response to its complaints [Note 1]. It intensified its accusations in October 1983, however, and in November asked for a United Nations Security Council investigation.

The U.S., which followed developments in the Iran-Iraq war with extraordinary intensity, had intelligence confirming Iran's accusations, and describing Iraq's "almost daily" use of chemical weapons, concurrent with its policy review and decision to support Iraq in the war [Document 24]. The intelligence indicated that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces, and, according to a November 1983 memo, against "Kurdish insurgents" as well [Document 25].

What was the Reagan administration's response? A State Department account indicates that the administration had decided to limit its "efforts against the Iraqi CW program to close monitoring because of our strict neutrality in the Gulf war, the sensitivity of sources, and the low probability of achieving desired results." But the department noted in late November 1983 that "with the essential assistance of foreign firms, Iraq ha[d] become able to deploy and use CW and probably has built up large reserves of CW for further use. Given its desperation to end the war, Iraq may again use lethal or incapacitating CW, particularly if Iran threatens to break through Iraqi lines in a large-scale attack" [Document 25]. The State Department argued that the U.S. needed to respond in some way to maintain the credibility of its official opposition to chemical warfare, and recommended that the National Security Council discuss the issue.

Following further high-level policy review, Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 114, dated November 26, 1983, concerned specifically with U.S. policy toward the Iran-Iraq war. The directive reflects the administration's priorities: it calls for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities, and measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf, and directs the secretaries of state and defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take appropriate measures to respond to tensions in the area. It states, "Because of the real and psychological impact of a curtailment in the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf on the international economic system, we must assure our readiness to deal promptly with actions aimed at disrupting that traffic." It does not mention chemical weapons [Document 26].

Soon thereafter, Donald Rumsfeld (who had served in various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including as President Ford's defense secretary, and at this time headed the multinational pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co.) was dispatched to the Middle East as a presidential envoy. His December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein," while emphasizing "his close relationship" with the president [Document 28]. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.'s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran's ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting [Document 31].

Rumsfeld also met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, and the two agreed, "the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests." Rumsfeld affirmed the Reagan administration's "willingness to do more" regarding the Iran-Iraq war, but "made clear that our efforts to assist were inhibited by certain things that made it difficult for us, citing the use of chemical weapons, possible escalation in the Gulf, and human rights." He then moved on to other U.S. concerns [Document 32]. Later, Rumsfeld was assured by the U.S. interests section that Iraq's leadership had been "extremely pleased" with the visit, and that "Tariq Aziz had gone out of his way to praise Rumsfeld as a person" [Document 36 and Document 37].

Rumsfeld returned to Baghdad in late March 1984. By this time, the U.S. had publicly condemned Iraq's chemical weapons use, stating, "The United States has concluded that the available evidence substantiates Iran's charges that Iraq used chemical weapons" [Document 47]. Briefings for Rumsfeld's meetings noted that atmospherics in Iraq had deteriorated since his December visit because of Iraqi military reverses and because "bilateral relations were sharply set back by our March 5 condemnation of Iraq for CW use, despite our repeated warnings that this issue would emerge sooner or later" [Document 48]. Rumsfeld was to discuss with Iraqi officials the Reagan administration's hope that it could obtain Export-Import Bank credits for Iraq, the Aqaba pipeline, and its vigorous efforts to cut off arms exports to Iran. According to an affidavit prepared by one of Rumsfeld's companions during his Mideast travels, former NSC staff member Howard Teicher, Rumsfeld also conveyed to Iraq an offer from Israel to provide assistance, which was rejected [Document 61].

Although official U.S. policy still barred the export of U.S. military equipment to Iraq, some was evidently provided on a "don't ask - don't tell" basis. In April 1984, the Baghdad interests section asked to be kept apprised of Bell Helicopter Textron's negotiations to sell helicopters to Iraq, which were not to be "in any way configured for military use" [Document 55]. The purchaser was the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In December 1982, Bell Textron's Italian subsidiary had informed the U.S. embassy in Rome that it turned down a request from Iraq to militarize recently purchased Hughes helicopters. An allied government, South Korea, informed the State Department that it had received a similar request in June 1983 (when a congressional aide asked in March 1983 whether heavy trucks recently sold to Iraq were intended for military purposes, a State Department official replied "we presumed that this was Iraq's intention, and had not asked.") [Document 44]

During the spring of 1984 the U.S. reconsidered policy for the sale of dual-use equipment to Iraq's nuclear program, and its "preliminary results favor[ed] expanding such trade to include Iraqi nuclear entities" [Document 57]. Several months later, a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis said that even after the war ended, Iraq was likely to "continue to develop its formidable conventional and chemical capability, and probably pursue nuclear weapons" [Document 58]. (Iraq is situated in a dangerous neighborhood, and Israel had stockpiled a large nuclear weapons arsenal without international censure. Nuclear nonproliferation was not a high priority of the Reagan administration - throughout the 1980s it downplayed Pakistan's nuclear program, though its intelligence indicated that a weapons capability was being pursued, in order to avert congressionally mandated sanctions. Sanctions would have impeded the administration's massive military assistance to Pakistan provided in return for its support of the mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.)

In February 1984, Iraq's military, expecting a major Iranian attack, issued a warning that "the invaders should know that for every harmful insect there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it whatever the number and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide" [Document 41]. On March 3, the State Department intervened to prevent a U.S. company from shipping 22,000 pounds of phosphorous fluoride, a chemical weapons precursor, to Iraq. Washington instructed the U.S. interests section to protest to the Iraqi government, and to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that "we anticipate making a public condemnation of Iraqi use of chemical weapons in the near future," and that "we are adamantly opposed to Iraq's attempting to acquire the raw materials, equipment, or expertise to manufacture chemical weapons from the United States. When we become aware of attempts to do so, we will act to prevent their export to Iraq" [Document 42].

The public condemnation was issued on March 5. It said, "While condemning Iraq's chemical weapons use . . . The United States finds the present Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations and the moral and religious basis which it claims" [Document 43].

Later in the month, the State Department briefed the press on its decision to strengthen controls on the export of chemical weapons precursors to Iran and Iraq, in response to intelligence and media reports that precursors supplied to Iraq originated in Western countries. When asked whether the U.S.'s conclusion that Iraq had used chemical weapons would have "any effect on U.S. recent initiatives to expand commercial relationships with Iraq across a broad range, and also a willingness to open diplomatic relations," the department's spokesperson said "No. I'm not aware of any change in our position. We're interested in being involved in a closer dialogue with Iraq" [Document 52].

Iran had submitted a draft resolution asking the U.N. to condemn Iraq's chemical weapons use. The U.S. delegate to the U.N. was instructed to lobby friendly delegations in order to obtain a general motion of "no decision" on the resolution. If this was not achievable, the U.S. delegate was to abstain on the issue. Iraq's ambassador met with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jeane Kirkpatrick, and asked for "restraint" in responding to the issue - as did the representatives of both France and Britain.

A senior U.N. official who had participated in a fact-finding mission to investigate Iran's complaint commented "Iranians may well decide to manufacture and use chemical weapons themselves if [the] international community does not condemn Iraq. He said Iranian assembly speaker Rafsanjani [had] made public statements to this effect" [Document 50].

Iraqi interests section head Nizar Hamdoon met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Placke on March 29. Hamdoon said that Iraq strongly preferred a Security Council presidential statement to a resolution, and wanted the response to refer to former resolutions on the war, progress toward ending the conflict, but to not identify any specific country as responsible for chemical weapons use. Placke said the U.S. could accept Iraqi proposals if the Security Council went along. He asked for the Iraqi government's help "in avoiding . . . embarrassing situation[s]" but also noted that the U.S. did "not want this issue to dominate our bilateral relationship" [Document 54].

On March 30, 1984, the Security Council issued a presidential statement condemning the use of chemical weapons, without naming Iraq as the offending party. A State Department memo circulating the draft text observed that, "The statement, by the way contains all three elements Hamdoon wanted" [Document 51].

On April 5, 1984, Ronald Reagan issued another presidential directive (NSDD 139), emphasizing the U.S. objective of ensuring access to military facilities in the Gulf region, and instructing the director of central intelligence and the secretary of defense to upgrade U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities. It codified U.S. determination to develop plans "to avert an Iraqi collapse." Reagan's directive said that U.S. policy required "unambiguous" condemnation of chemical warfare (without naming Iraq), while including the caveat that the U.S. should "place equal stress on the urgent need to dissuade Iran from continuing the ruthless and inhumane tactics which have characterized recent offensives." The directive does not suggest that "condemning" chemical warfare required any hesitation about or modification of U.S. support for Iraq [Document 53].

A State Department background paper dated November 16, 1984 said that Iraq had stopped using chemical weapons after a November 1983 demarche from the U.S., but had resumed their use in February 1984. On November 26, 1984, Iraq and the U.S. restored diplomatic relations. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, in Washington for the formal resumption of ties, met with Secretary of State George Shultz. When their discussion turned to the Iran-Iraq war, Aziz said that his country was satisfied that "the U.S. analysis of the war's threat to regional stability is 'in agreement in principle' with Iraq's," and expressed thanks for U.S. efforts to cut off international arms sales to Iran. He said that "Iraq's superiority in weaponry" assured Iraq's defense. Shultz, with presumed sardonic intent, "remarked that superior intelligence must also be an important factor in Iraq's defense;" Tariq Aziz had to agree [Document 60].

Conclusion

The current Bush administration discusses Iraq in starkly moralistic terms to further its goal of persuading a skeptical world that a preemptive and premeditated attack on Iraq could and should be supported as a "just war." The documents included in this briefing book reflect the realpolitik that determined this country's policies during the years when Iraq was actually employing chemical weapons. Actual rather than rhetorical opposition to such use was evidently not perceived to serve U.S. interests; instead, the Reagan administration did not deviate from its determination that Iraq was to serve as the instrument to prevent an Iranian victory. Chemical warfare was viewed as a potentially embarrassing public relations problem that complicated efforts to provide assistance. The Iraqi government's repressive internal policies, though well known to the U.S. government at the time, did not figure at all in the presidential directives that established U.S. policy toward the Iran-Iraq war. The U.S. was concerned with its ability to project military force in the Middle East, and to keep the oil flowing.

Most of the information in this briefing book, in its broad outlines, has been available for years. Some of it was recorded in contemporaneous news reports; a few investigative reporters uncovered much more - especially after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. A particular debt is owed to the late representative Henry Gonzales (1916-2000), Democrat of Texas, whose staff extensively investigated U.S. policy toward Iraq during the 1980s and who would not be deterred from making information available to the public [Note 2]. Almost all of the primary documents included in this briefing book were obtained by the National Security Archive through the Freedom of Information Act and were published in 1995 [Note 3].


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Document 1: United States Embassy in Turkey Cable from Richard W. Boehm to the Department of State. "Back Up of Transshipment Cargos for Iraq," November 21, 1980.

Shortly after the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. embassy in Ankara reports that Turkish ports have a backlog of goods awaiting transshipment to Iraq, and that a substantial amount of Israeli goods transit Turkey for "Islamic belligerents," including Israeli chemical products for Iran. It remarks on "Israeli acumen" in selling to both Iran and Iraq.

The Iran-Iraq war was a tragedy for Iraqis and Iranians, resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties and immense material damage. It was sustained by an arms bazaar made up of a broad spectrum of foreign governments and corporations: British, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Brazilian, Argentinean, Chilean, North Korean, Chinese, South African, Eastern European, Israeli, American, etc., who found both combatants eager consumers of weapons, ammunition, and military technology. Iran needed U.S.-origin weapons compatible with the military infrastructure created by the U.S. during the shah's reign, could not buy them directly, and had to rely on third-party suppliers like Israel.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 2: United States Embassy in Israel Cable from Samuel W. Lewis to the Department of State. "Conversation with [Excised]," December 12, 1980.

A source says Israel will refrain from selling arms to Iran while Americans are held hostage in Tehran, but that European arms dealers were providing it with weapons with or without government approval.

(Iranian demonstrators seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran in September 1979 to protest the admission of the exiled shah to the U.S. for medical treatment, and held 52 Americans hostage. In response, the Carter administration froze Iranian assets and imposed other sanctions. The hostages were not released until January 20, 1981, the inauguration day of newly elected President Ronald Reagan.)

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 3: Department of State Cable from Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to All Near Eastern and South Asian Diplomatic Posts. "Military Equipment for Iran and Iraq," February 16, 1981.

A State Department cable delineates official U.S. arms export policy for Iran and Iraq as it stood in early 1981: the "U.S. position has been to avoid taking sides in an effort to prevent widening the conflict, bring an end to the fighting and restore stability to the area."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 4: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the Department of State. "Prospects for DAS [Deputy Assistant Secretary] Draper's Visit To Baghdad," April 4, 1981.

The U.S. interests section (since the U.S. and Iraq did not have formal diplomatic relations at this time - they were restored in November 1984 - they were represented in each other's capitol by interests sections) says that the U.S. now has "a greater convergence of interests with Iraq than at any time since the revolution of 1958" (when Iraqis overthrew the conservative Hashemite monarchy that had been imposed under British colonialism.) Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Morris Draper is to visit Baghdad, "the first visit by a senior department official since Phil Habib stopped by in 1977."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 5: Department of State Cable from Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to the United States Interests Section in Iraq. "Secretary's Message To Iraqi Foreign Minister," April 8, 1981.

Secretary of State Alexander Haig sends a personal message to Iraqi Foreign Minister Saadoun Hammadi, noting that it is important that "our two countries be able to exchange views, freely and on a systematic basis," paving the way for Deputy Assistant Secretary Morris Draper's meetings in Baghdad.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 6: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the Department of State. "Meetings in Baghdad with Foreign Minister Hammadi," April 12, 1981.

As the Reagan administration continues efforts to improve relations with Iraq, the U.S. interests section in Baghdad asks for more information from Washington "so as to be able to take up with the Iraqis on suitable occasions a wide array of issues of mutual interest."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 7: Iraq Ministry of Foreign Affairs Letter from Saadoun Hammadi to Alexander M. Haig, Jr. [Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs Praise for Visit of Under Secretary Draper], April 15, 1981.

Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs Saadoun Hammadi thanks Secretary of State Alexander Haig for Under Secretary Draper's visit, supports discussion of strengthened trade relations, and welcomes assurances that the U.S. will not sell arms to Iran.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 8: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the Department of State. "Letter to the Secretary from Iraqi Foreign Minister Hammadi," April 20, 1981.

After reading a "friendly and non-contentious letter" from Iraqi Foreign Minister Hammadi to Secretary of State Haig, the head of the U.S. interests section agrees with foreign ministry official Mohammed al-Sahhaf that a useful two-way correspondence had been established between the U.S. and Iraq.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 9
: Department of State Cable from Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to the Iraqi Interests Section in the United States. "Meeting with Iraqint Chief al-Omar" [For Eagleton from Draper], April 22, 1981.

Upon returning to Washington, Under Secretary Draper assures the head of the Iraqi interests section that he was extremely pleased with his visit to Baghdad and prospects for improved relations and increased trade. He takes the opportunity to make a "strong pitch" for a U.S. company bidding on an Iraqi Metro project.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 10: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to Department of State. "Meeting with Tariq Aziz," May 28, 1981.

Following consultations in Washington, the head of the U.S. interests section in Baghdad, William Eagleton, meets with Revolutionary Command Council representative Tariq Aziz, the "highest level in the Iraqi government our Baghdad mission has met with since the 1967 break in relations." Eagleton informs Aziz of "the U.S. government's satisfaction with the positive trend in U.S.-Iraqi relations." After the meeting, he tells Washington that "we are in a position to communicate directly with the leadership should we have any sensitive or particularly important message to convey."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 11: Department of State Cable from Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to the United States Interests Section in Iraq. "U.S. Policy on Arms Sales and Transfers to Iraq and Iran," June 3, 1981.

Washington tells the U.S. interests section in Baghdad that it "has no specific information" regarding Iran's reported acquisitions of U.S. arms and spare parts, and asks the interests section head to assure Iraqi officials that "the U.S. has not approved nor condoned any military sales to Iraq or Iran."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 12: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable to the Department of State. "Staffdel [Staff Delegation] Pillsbury's Visit to Baghdad," September 27, 1981.

A member of a staff delegation touring the Middle East on behalf of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) visits Iraq's parliament, and has discussions during which "the atmosphere was pleasant and friendly," reflected in expressions of support for improving U.S.-Iraqi relations.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 13: Department of State Cable from Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to the United States Interests Section in Iraq. "De-designation of Iraq as Supporter of International Terrorism," February 27, 1982.

The State Department provides press guidance to regional missions regarding removal of Iraq from its list of countries that support international terrorism. The guidance says that the decision has no implications for U.S. policy toward the Iran-Iraq war.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 14: National Security Study Directive (NSSD 4-82) from Ronald W. Reagan. "U.S. Strategy for the Near East and Southwest Asia," March 19, 1982.

President Reagan calls for a review of policy for the Middle East and South Asia, to prepare for decisions regarding procurement, arms transfers, and intelligence planning. Revised guidelines are needed because of regional diplomatic and global oil market developments.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 15: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the Department of Commerce. "Helicopters and Airplanes for Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform," September 20, 1982.

Iraq's director of agricultural aviation invites U.S. crop-spraying aircraft manufacturers to provide information about helicopters and pilot training, noting problems with its existing equipment because pilots have been inhaling insecticide fumes.

Iran was reporting chemical weapons use against its forces by this time. According to a 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, American-built helicopters were used by Iraq for some of its chemical weapons attacks; according to the Central Intelligence Agency, Iraq experimented with using commercial crop sprayers for biological warfare.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 16: Department of State Cable from George P. Shultz to the United States Interests Section in Iraq. "Visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister," January 15, 1983.

The State Department asks the U.S. interests section in Baghdad to inform Iraqi officials that Secretary of State George Shultz would welcome a visit by Foreign Minister Saadoun Hammadi, but notes congressional criticism of Iraq and the "sensitivity of the terrorism issue" (Iraq supported several Palestinian nationalist factions.) The department suggests Iraq "contribute to the positive atmosphere of the visit" by curtailing its support for terrorism, mentioning specifically the Palestinian groups Black June and May 15.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 17: Department of State, Office of the Secretary Delegation Cable from George P. Shultz to the Department of State. "Secretary's May 10 Meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz," May 11, 1983.

Secretary of State Shultz tells Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz that the U.S. wants the Iran-Iraq war to end. He says that the U.S. is neutral toward the war but observes that Aziz knows that "we had been helpful to Iraq in various ways."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 18: Department of State Cable from George P. Shultz to the United States Interests Section in Iraq. "Message from the Secretary for FON MIN Tariq Aziz: Iraqi Support for Terrorism," May 23, 1983.

Secretary of State George Shultz writes to Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, commenting on the "very important common interests" between Iraq and the U.S. Shultz obliquely encourages Iraq to disassociate itself from the Palestinian groups it supports by evoking conservative Shiite militants opposed to both the U.S. and to Iraq's secular government: it "appears that at least the inspiration for certain terrorist acts against Iraq and against the U.S. emanates at times from the same sources. By working together to combat terrorism, our efforts should be more effective. In observing Iraqi policy, it had begun to appear to me that Iraq was approaching the conclusion that its national interests are never served by international terrorists."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 19: Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence Appraisal. "The Iraqi Nuclear Program: Progress Despite Setbacks," June 1983.

In its assessment of Iraq's nuclear program, the Central Intelligence Agency indicates that Iraq probably plans to eventually obtain nuclear weapons. The CIA says it has not identified such a program, but remarks that Iraq "has made a few moves that could take it in that direction," while noting the difficulty of clandestine research and development and procurement of the necessary technology and fissile materials.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 20: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from Barbara K. Bodine to the Department of State. "Militarization of Hughes Helicopters," June 8, 1983.

Tells the State Department that a government official from (presumably) South Korea reported that Iraq asked his government to militarize Hughes helicopters that were sold and delivered earlier in 1983. The request was turned down.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 21: National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 99) from Ronald W. Reagan. "United States Security Strategy for the Near East and South Asia" [Attached to Cover Memorandum; Heavily Excised], July 12, 1983.

Outlines U.S. regional objectives, strategies, and action plans for the Middle East (most content is excised).

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 22: Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Information Memorandum from Jonathan T. Howe to Lawrence S. Eagleburger. "Iran-Iraq War: Analysis of Possible U.S. Shift from Position of Strict Neutrality," October 7, 1983.

Discusses the feasibility of a U.S. "tilt" toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and related practical concerns. The analysis notes that the U.S. "policy of strict neutrality has already been modified, except for arms sales, since Iran's forces crossed into Iraq in the summer of 1982. (We assume that other actions not discussed here, such as providing tactical intelligence, would continue as necessary.)"

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 23: Foreign Broadcast Information Service Transcription. "IRNA Reports Iraqi Regime Using Chemical Weapons to Stop Val-Fajr IV," October 22, 1983.

Iran says that Iraq has been using chemical weapons against Iranian troops.


Document 24: Department of State, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs Information Memorandum from Jonathan T. Howe to George P. Shultz. "Iraq Use of Chemical Weapons," November 1, 1983.

Officials from the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs tell Secretary Shultz that the department has additional information confirming Iraq's "almost daily" use of chemical weapons. They note, "We also know that Iraq has acquired a CW production capability, presumably from Western firms, including possibly a U.S. foreign subsidiary." The issue is to be added to the agenda for an upcoming National Security Council meeting, at which measures to assist Iraq are to be considered. The officials note that a response is important in order to maintain the credibility of U.S. policy on chemical warfare.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 25: Department of State, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Action Memorandum from Jonathan T. Howe to Lawrence S. Eagleburger. "Iraqi Use of Chemical Weapons" [Includes Cables Entitled "Deterring Iraqi Use of Chemical Weapons" and "Background of Iraqi Use of Chemical Weapons"], November 21, 1983.

State Department officials recommend discussing the use of chemical weapons with Iraqi officials soon, in order to deter further use and "to avoid unpleasantly surprising Iraq through public positions we may have to take on this issue." A background cable says that Iraq used lethal chemical weapons in October 1982 and, reportedly, against Iranian forces July and August 1983 "and more recently against Kurdish insurgents."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 26: National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 114) from Ronald W. Reagan. "U.S. Policy toward the Iran-Iraq War," November 26, 1983.

President Ronald Reagan directs that consultations begin with regional states willing to cooperate with the U.S. on measures to protect Persian Gulf oil production and its transshipment infrastructure. The U.S. will give the highest priority to the establishment of military facilities allowing for the positioning of rapid deployment forces in the region to guard oil facilities.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 27: Department of State Cable from Kenneth W. Dam to the United States Interests Section in Iraq. "Rumsfeld Visit to Iraq," December 7, 1983.

Reports that Donald Rumsfeld wants to visit Iraq during his tour of Middle Eastern countries as an envoy for President Reagan, but notes that he does not think his visit will be worthwhile unless he meets directly with Saddam Hussein.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 28: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the Department of State [et al.]. "Rumsfeld Visit to Iraq," December 10, 1983.

The head of the U.S. interests section in Baghdad tells Iraqi Under Secretary Mohammed al-Sahhaf that "perhaps the greatest benefit" of Donald Rumsfeld's upcoming visit to Baghdad "will be the establishment of direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein." The planned topics of discussion are the Iran-Iraq war, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanon, Syria, and any other issues that the Iraqis might want to raise.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 29: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the United States Embassy in Jordan. "Talking Points for Amb. [Ambassador] Rumsfeld's Meeting with Tariq Aziz and Saddam Hussein," December 14, 1983.

A U.S. interests section cable notes that presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld's upcoming meeting will be Saddam Hussein's first with a representative of the U.S. executive branch; therefore, a major goal will be "to initiate a dialogue and establish personal rapport." In the meeting, "Rumsfeld will want to emphasize his close relationship with President Reagan . . ." Talking points for the meeting include the Iran-Iraq war (the U.S. "would regard any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a strategic defeat for the West"), expansion of Iraqi pipeline facilities, Lebanon, Syria, strengthening of Egyptian and Iraqi ties, and the threat of terrorism, which targets both countries.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 30: United States Embassy in Italy Cable from Maxwell M. Rabb to the Department of State. "Rumsfeld's Larger Meeting with Iraqi Deputy PM [Prime Minister] and FM [Foreign Minister] Tariz [Tariq] Aziz, December 19," December 20, 1983.

During a meeting with Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and other Iraqi officials, Donald Rumsfeld notes that the U.S. and Iraq have both differences and "a number of areas of common interest." Aziz says that he was heartened by a line in President Reagan's letter to Saddam Hussein stating, "The Iran-Iraq war could post serious problems for the economic and security interests of the U.S., its friends in the region and in the free world."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 31
: United States Embassy in United Kingdom Cable from Charles H. Price II to the Department of State. "Rumsfeld Mission: December 20 Meeting with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein," December 21, 1983.

At a 90-minute meeting with Donald Rumsfeld, Saddam Hussein evinces "obvious pleasure" at a letter Rumsfeld brought from President Ronald Reagan. The two discuss common U.S.-Iraqi interests, including Lebanon, Palestine, opposition to an outcome of the Iran-Iraq war that "weakened Iraq's role or enhanced interests and ambitions of Iran," and U.S. efforts to cut off arms sales to Iran. Rumsfeld says that the U.S. feels extremely strongly about terrorism and says that it has a home - in Iran, Syria, and Libya, and that it is supported by the Soviet Union. He encourages arrangements that might provide alternative transshipment routes for Iraq's oil, including pipelines through Saudi Arabia or to the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan. The State Department calls the meeting a "positive milestone."

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 32: United States Embassy in the United Kingdom Cable from Charles H. Price II to the Department of State. "Rumsfeld One-on-One Meeting with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister," December 21, 1983.

Presidential envoy Donald Rumsfeld and Tariq Aziz meet for two and one-half hours and agree that "the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests," including peace in the Persian Gulf, the desire to diminish the influence of Iran and Syria, and support for reintegrating Egypt, isolated since its unilateral peace with Israel, into the Arab world. Rumsfeld comments on Iraq's oil exports, suggests alternative pipeline facilities, and discusses opposition to international terrorism and support for a fair Arab-Israeli peace. He and Aziz discuss the Iran-Iraq war "in detail." Rumsfeld says that the administration wants an end to the war, and offers "our willingness to do more." He mentions chemical weapons, possible escalation of fighting in the Gulf, and human rights as impediments to the U.S. government's desire to do more to help Iraq, then shifts the conversation to U.S. opposition to Syria's role in Lebanon.

Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act


Document 33: Department of State, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Action Memorandum from Richard W. Murphy to Lawrence S. Eagleburger. "EXIM [Export-Import] Bank Financing for Iraq" [Includes Letter From Lawrence S. Eagleburger to William Draper, Dated December 24, 1983], December 22, 1983.

Pursuant to the Reagan administration's policy of increasing support for Iraq, the State Department advises Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Lawrence Eagleburger to urge the U.S. Export-Import Bank to provide Iraq with financial credits. Eagleburger signs a letter to Eximbank saying that since Saddam Hussein had complied with U.S. requests, and announced the end of all aid to the principal terrorist group of concern to the U.S., and expelled its leader (Abu Nidal), "The terrorism issue, therefore, should no longer be an impediment to EXIM financing for U.S. sales to Iraq." The financing is to signal U.S. belief in Iraq's future economic viability, secure a foothold in the potentially large Iraqi market, and "go far to show our support for Iraq in a practical, neutral context."

Source: Declassified through Congressional investigation


Document 34: Department of State Cable from Kenneth W. Dam to United States Embassy in Jordan. "Rumsfeld Mission: Meeting with King Hussein in London," December 23, 1983.

Ambassador-at-large and presidential emissary Donald Rumsfeld discusses prospects for improving U.S.-Iraqi relations with King Hussein of Jordan. Rumsfeld reports on his talks with Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz and says they had "more areas of agreement than disagreement." He also reviews the status of a proposed pipeline to Aqaba for Iraq's oil.

The U.S. promoted the Aqaba pipeline project strenuously for several years during the early to mid 1980s. It would have carried oil from northern Iraq to the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan, alleviating the disruptive effect on Iraq's oil output that resulted from Iran's attacks on oil transshipment facilities in the Persian Gulf and from Syria's closing of a pipeline that had transported Iraqi oil. The proposed project reflected the U.S.'s extreme nervousness about threats to the world oil supply resulting from the Iran-Iraq war.

The U.S. involved several U.S.-based multinational corporations in planning the project. International financier Bruce Rappaport, a friend of CIA director William Casey, was also a central figure in the proposed deal. (The final report of the independent counsel for the Iran-Contra "arms for hostages" scandal cites reports indicating that Rappaport's bank in Geneva was the recipient of a mysterious $10 million payment from the Sultan of Brunei to fund the Nicaraguan contras that subsequently disappeared. Rappaport denied this; the final report says that the issue remained unresolved. He was invited to testify in 1999 at a House Banking committee hearing on corruption in Russian financial transactions, but declined.) The project was complicated by demands that the U.S. arrange for ironclad security guarantees from the Israelis, since the pipeline would have been vulnerable to their attack. The Israelis, for their part, demanded guarantees that pipeline facilities would not cause environmental damage.

All involved had their reasons for at least hypothetical interest in the project. For Iraq, it would have been a manifestation of improved U.S.-Iraq relations - they wanted as much U.S. financial and other involvement in the proposed deal as possible. For the U.S., it would have provided an alternative, theoretically secure outlet for oil and created a nexus for entangling Iraqi interests with those of Jordan and Israel, consistent with U.S. plans to create a wider consortium of Arab countries that would cooperate with the U.S. and would be willing to resolve the Palestine-Israel dispute on U.S. terms. Israel would have benefited from new oil facilities in its vicinity, and won points with the Reagan administration. Also, according to internal documents from a friend of Reagan administration Attorney General Edmund Meese, brought in as an intermediary because of his Israeli ties, payoffs would have been skimmed from complex financial guarantee arrangements for the Israeli government and Labor Party.

Attempts to agree on arrangements that would satisfy all parties dragged on, until the several private companies that had been brought in to plan the project backed out, questioning the motives of all involved. Iraq, however, revived the concept in 2000, presumably for its own strategic interests.

Source: Court exhibit


Document 35: United States Interests Section in Iraq Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the De

§In Rumsfeld's Own Words
by National Security Archives Tuesday Mar 11th, 2003 6:10 PM

Here Is one of the more interesting pdfs from that post above: