Germany: Syria Must Be Punished if Gas Use Confirmed
The German government has indicated for the first time that it would back an international military response against Syria if its suspected deadly use of chemical weapons is confirmed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that if UN inspectors confirm the use of chemical weapons, "it must be punished."
Seibert says the government has "very clear evidence that this was a chemical weapons attack."
He said he won't speculate on what kind of response might be needed but would not rule out the use of force.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement that if the attack is confirmed "Germany would be among those who consider consequences to be appropriate."
Speaking at a Berlin conference of German ambassadors he said the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction in Syria would be “a crime against civilisation”.
"If their use is confirmed, the world community would have to act,” he said.
“Then Germany would be among those who would support consequences. In this regard, we are in close communications with the United Nations and our allies."
He did not specify what the consequences would be, but the US, Britain and France have signaled a growing willingness to strike the regime militarily if the use of chemical weapons is confirmed.
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Chemical Warfare in Vietnam
Operation Ranch Hand destroyed 1,034,300 hectares of forest. Agent Orange, the chemical used in this defoliation program not only destroyed trees but caused chromosomal damage in people.
Chemicals were also sprayed on crops. Between 1962 and 1969, 688,000 agricultural acres were sprayed with a chemical called Agent Blue. The aim of this exercise was to deny food to the NLF. However, research suggests that it was the civilian population who suffered most from the poor rice harvests that followed the spraying.
When a report appeared in the St. Louis Dispatch about the dropping of "poison" on North Vietnam the United States, denied the herbicide they were using was a chemical weapon. It was claimed that Agent Orange and Agent Blue were harmless to humans and only had a short-lived impact on the environment.
International experts disputed this and 5,000 American scientists, including 17 Nobel Prize winners and 129 members of the Academy of Sciences, signed a petition against chemical and biological weapons being used in Vietnam. However, it was not until 1974 that the United States government stopped using Agent Orange and Agent Blue.