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Thursday, May 28, 1998 Published at 06:20 GMT 07:20 UK

World: Middle East

Saddam says Britain owes compensation

The Iraqi government has told the UN that children are suffering from cancers

Iraq is demanding compensation from the UK for damage caused by depleted uranium shells during the Gulf War.

The Iraqi News Agency INA said a complaint had been sent to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan by the country's Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

[ image: Gulf war servicemen: Condition linked to depleted uranium]
Gulf war servicemen: Condition linked to depleted uranium
Mr al-Sahaf alleges in the letter that the UK's use of depleted uranium shells had caused "unfamiliar diseases" and bone and foetal abnormalities in communities near to where the shells had fallen.

The letter to the UN alleges that the UK government made a "new and additional admission" when it confirmed on April 30 that the shells were used.

Depleted uranium is used to make shells denser and increase their armour-piercing capabilities.

The Ministry of Defence says that it used less than 100 of the shells during the whole conflict.

The letter continues: "This new admission asserts previous confirmations made by official and unofficial British and US organisations that the coalition troops committed annihilation crimes punishable by international law."

The shells have also led to an increase in child leukaemia, the Foreign Minister alleges.

'Links' to Gulf War Syndrome

[ image: George Galloway MP: Called for investigations]
George Galloway MP: Called for investigations
Labour MP Tam Dalyell, who campaigns for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq with fellow MP George Galloway, said he had previously heard such complaints on visits to Iraq.

He called for the UK to co-operate with the Iraqi government and investigate the so-called Gulf War Syndrome.

Many ex-servicemen say they are suffering a debilitating condition caused either by drugs taken to inoculate them from chemical attack or some of the weapons used during the war.

Mr Dalyell said he believed the Iraqi people referred to in the UN letter could be suffering the same condition.

Referring to a visit to Iraq in 1994, Mr Dalyell said: "There certainly was talk of illnesses that could not be explained and were thought to be related to the attack.

"It would be a very sensible thing to have medical exchanges about this.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We are not aware of any details of the alleged complaint to the UN.

"The UK has never attempted to conceal its use of depleted uranium ammunition in the Gulf."

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Internet Links

US Department of Defence: Gulf War Illness

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United Nations: Iraq programme office

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