A highly-classified UK Foreign Office file has revealed that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had used British-supplied equipment to manufacture chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war.
According to the file, senior British officials had received American intelligence suggesting that mustard gas was being manufactured at a pesticide plant north of Baghdad using British-supplied equipment.
It was further disclosed that the Indian contractor which had built the factory at Samarra had acquired pumps from a UK manufacturer, Weir Pumps, without revealing their true purpose to the company.
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Moreover, after the Iran-Iraq war, it was revealed that not only Britain but many other western countries were used by Iraq to supply equipment as well as raw materials for the manufacture of chemical weapons, which killed some 100,000 Iranians with Iraqi chemical and nerve agents by the end of the war in 1988.
In addition, it was disclosed that the sales were made often with the knowledge of intelligence services of those countries.
Subsequently, the Iraqi dictator succeeded in dramatically increasing his chemical weapons production capacity - a development which became one of the principal justifications for the Allied invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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Among the facilities built by Saddam’s regime was a £14m chlorine plant constructed in 1985 by a British company which received export credit guarantees from the government despite a warning to ministers from a Foreign Office official that there was a “strong possibility” it would be used to manufacture mustard gas.
This article originally appeared on The Independent
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