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Declassified Documents: Bechtel Planned to Evade Iraq "Genocide" Sanctions in 1988

December 24, 2003


Newly declassified documents reveal how construction firm Bechtel planned to evade economic sanctions imposed by Washington after Saddam Hussein used poison gas on Iraq’s Kurdish minority and additional documents show that Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad for a second visit in March 1984 deliver a private message about WMDs.

Newly declassified documents obtained by the non-profit National Security Archive show that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction.

The Washington Post reports the message was that Washington’s public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail U.S. attempts to forge a better relationship. The 1984 visit was Rumsfeld’s second visit to Iraq on behalf of President Ronald Reagan. Rumsfeld met with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in December 1983.

Uncovered documents also reveal that construction firm Bechtel planned to evade economic sanctions imposed by Washington after Saddam Hussein used poison gas on Iraq’s Kurdish minority.

According to a 1988 confidential State Department cable, then-U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie wrote that Bechtel officials threatened then to use non-U.S. suppliers to sidestep the sanctions.

In April of this year, Bechtel landed the largest U.S. Agency for International Development contract to date for infrastructure repair work in Iraq. The deal is worth an initial payment of 34.6 million dollars and up to 680 million dollars in total.

  • Jim Vallette, research director for the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network and author of Crude Vision: How Oil Interests Obscured US Government Focus On Chemical Weapons Use by Saddam Hussein.

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