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A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Update on Fallujah Weapons

Update on Fallujah Weapons

Having had more time with the story, a few corrections seem to be in order. Apparently, neither napalm MK77 nor white phosphorus is classified as a "chemical weapon." Technically, they are "incendiary weapons," which seem to be prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, or at least using them at a risk to civilians is.

Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (with Protocols I, II and III)

Geneva, 10 October 1980

Protocol IV,

Vienna, 13 October 1995

Protocol II, as amended,

Geneva, 3 May 1996

...Protocol III on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons prohibits, in all circumstances, making the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects, the object of attack by any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat or a combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target.

I say "seem to" because there is conflicting language on the use of incendiaries.

Even lawful weapons may be used unlawfully. Examples: rifles to shoot POWs, strafing civilians, firing on shipwrecked mariners or downed aircrews

--- Recent treaty developments
---- Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980

----- Incendiary weapons are presently legal.

Protocol III to the Conventional Weapons Convention places restrictions upon their use in certain instances

I'm not sure how specifically they define these "certain instances," but I did find this notation:

H. If civilians are in the area, close air support (CAS), white phosphorus, and incendiary weapons are prohibited without approval from above Division level.

This indicates that incendiaries are, theoretically, limited in application, but not outright illegal. The real wiggle room, though, appears to be that the U.S. did not sign on to those protocols banning incendiary weapons; we retain the dubious distinction of being the only country to not repudiate such weaponry.

So, yes; they're prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, but we didn't adopt those protocols, so we don't have to pay attention to that part. Can't let something so "quaint" and "obsolete" interefere with 21st century warmongering, you understand. Technicality or no, the use of incendiary weapons is appalling, especially since we're the Good Guys™.

In any event, here is some more information on the use of white phosphorus and napalm light by our forces.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The London Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."

And some other interesting tie-ins: Giuliana Sgrena had been reporting on Fallujah before her kidnapping, release and subsequent attack at a U.S. checkpoint. Was this why she was attacked?


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