US: Pentagon rejects claims of 1991 nuclear explosion in Iraq

Washington, 10 Oct. (AKI) - The US Department of Defense has rejected controversial claims that the American military dropped a five-kilotonne nuclear bomb in southern Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991.

Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a media spokesman for the department, told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the US used "only conventional weapons" during the Gulf War.

Ryder was responding to claims made by a US veteran, and aired on Italian television, that a small five-kilotonne nuclear bomb was dropped in a deserted area outside the southern city of Basra, on the border of Iran.

"The US maintains a number of munitions that have an explosive capability of 5000 pounds (2300 kilogrammes) and larger," Ryder told AKI in a written statement.

"It is not possible for us to confirm the exact incident that you are referring to, but I can tell you that only conventional munitions were used during the Gulf War in 1991."

The claim was made by US war veteran Jim Brown, a former mechanical engineer in the Army's 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum.

He made the comments during an interview included in a 30-minute current affairs report broadcast by Italian state news channel RaiNews24 on Thursday.

Brown told the Italian news channel that the bombing took place on the last day of the war in Iraq on 27 February 1991.

RaiNews24 claims to have conducted its own inquiry and found that the only seismic event during the 43-day long war, took place on the last day of the war, near the city of Basra.

According to RaiNews24, a five-kilotonne blast equalled a 4.2 magnitude quake in the Richter scale.

The network cited the online archives of the International Seismological Center, a non-profit UK-based organisation, as confirmation of its research.

The blast is catalogued with the number 342793, which took place on 27 February at 1:39pm. The blast was reportedly registered in nine seismic centres, two in Iran, four in Nepal, one in Canada, one in Sweden and one in Norway.

However, Brown was not present during the alleged launch of the bomb.

While Brown claimed to have testimony from other witnesses, he was not present during the alleged launch of the bomb.

He said he personally spoke to people who were in the area when it happened.

"I know it sounds strange, but this is how the intelligence community works," said Brown during the interview.

The Italian journalist in charge of the inquiry Maurizio Torrealta told Adnkronos International (AKI) that there is no definitive proof of the nuclear blast and that it should not be taken as a fact.

Instead he asked the international community to further investigate the claims by Brown.

"We are asking journalists and the international community for help, in order to clarify this," said Torrealta in Rome.

However, in the documentary, which was shown to the media on Wednesday, Torrealta said that one of the possible reasons that the US may have dropped the bomb, was in retribution for the launch of Scud missiles on the US Dhahran military base in Saudi Arabia on 25 February.

Twenty-eight American soldiers died in the attack.

RaiNews24 said that 45-year-old Brown was originally a fourth-level engineer in the US Army and was demoted to third-level after health problems, following a vaccination against chemical weapons.

The injection deteriorated his health and he was eventually discharged from the army with honour.

He is now director of the Gulf Watch Intelligence Networking System organisation. Its website claims to have 350 supporters who are or were involved in coalition intelligence during the 1991 Gulf War.

The documentary included an interview with an Iraqi doctor, Jawad al-Ali, who told RaiNews24 that before the beginning of the first Gulf War in 1989 there were 32 cases of tumours, while in 2002 the number had risen to 600 in the Basra area.

Al-Ali also told RaiNews24 that tumours that used to affect older citizens had started to impact younger children. He then showed alleged photos of the tumours in the documentary.


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