The Secret Behind the Sanctions

Pentagon Documents Show U.S. Intentionally Used Sanctions to Destroy

Iraq's Water Supply.

Shocking Revelations on Sanctions' 11th Anniversary

Madison, Wisconsin -- The U.S. government intentionally used sanctions

against Iraq to degrade the country's water supply after the Gulf War, 


Progressive magazine reports in its September issue, citing seven

partially declassified Pentagon documents dating back to 1991.

Thomas J. Nagy, author of the cover story "The Secret Behind the

Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply," 


the documents demonstrate that "the United States knew it had the 


to devastate the water treatment system of Iraq. It knew what the

consequences would be: increased outbreaks of disease and high rates of

child mortality. And it was more concerned about the public relations

nightmare for Washington than the actual nightmare that the sanctions

created for innocent Iraqis."

Nagy cites a January 22, 1991, Defense Intelligence Agency document

entitled "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities," which states: "Iraq 


suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of

required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease,

including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the 


were careful to boil water." That document adds that "it probably will

take at least six months (to June 1991) before the system is fully


The documents mention possible diseases that may flow from the 


of Iraq's water supply. These include: cholera, diarrhea, diphtheria,

hepatitis A, hepatitis B, kwashiorkor, measles, meningitis, pertussis, 



The article says, "The sanctions, imposed for a decade largely at the

insistence of the United States, constitute a violation of the Geneva


A 1979 protocol to the Geneva Convention states: "It is prohibited to

attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the

survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, 


drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works."

The story is timely, as this week marks the eleventh anniversary of 


sanctions on Iraq.

"When the inglorious history of Iraq sanctions is written, these 


will demonstrate a level of callousness that is almost unspeakable," 


Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive.

Thomas J. Nagy teaches at the School of Business and Public Management 


George Washington University. The documents he cites appear on a

Department of Defense web site at His article is 


The Progressive's web site at:


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