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Release No: 120-98
March 19, 1998


The Department of Defense and United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense today released their first joint case narrative relating to a suspected chemical warfare agent exposure following the Gulf War. The case narrative, "Kuwaiti Girls' School," details the significant events relating to the discovery and testing of a liquid in a storage tank located at a school in Kuwait City, Kuwait in early August 1991. Based on results of their investigation, the DoD and MOD assess the contents were "definitely" inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA), a highly corrosive fuel component used with Iraqi missiles, and were "definitely not" a chemical warfare agent.

Iraq used the girls' school as an anti-ship missile test and maintenance facility during the Gulf War. Shortly after the war, coalition forces removed missiles and associated equipment left at the school by the Iraqis. A British explosive ordnance disposal firm discovered the suspicious substance several months later. Many initial tests of the substance gave positive indications for the presence of a chemical warfare agent but further detailed analysis "showed no material of CW (chemical warfare) interest. British forces instead concluded "samples were entirely consistent with the contents of the tank being nitric acid.

Hearings held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in 1994 raised the prospect that the contents of the tank were, in fact, a mix of chemical agents. The official DoD position on the contents reflected the British conclusion of nitric acid. The issue was further questioned by Congress, Parliament, in the press and in meetings of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.

The DoD's Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses and the MOD's Gulf War Veterans' Unit began their joint investigation of the contents in 1997 to reassess available information and study the matter further. The joint investigation involved more than two dozen interviews of people directly involved in the events, obtaining documentation and expert analysis from at least 13 U.K. and 15 U.S. government agencies, the United Nations, the Kuwaiti government, and three non-governmental organizations.

"For the first time, many of the disparate elements of the case were brought together," said Bernard Rostker, special assistant for Gulf War illnesses. "Many people were associated with post-war operations at the girls' school, but no one seemed to be aware of all the elements."

"This case is a milestone because it involved cooperation between our two countries," said Rostker. "In the past year, the MOD and DoD have developed an outstanding collaborative relationship, which can only help the Gulf War veterans of both countries," he said. "The cooperation on this case narrative is not an isolated incident. Meaningful cooperation will continue."

DoD has released nine other case narratives and three information papers relating to its work on Gulf War illnesses. Other narratives about key events and issues surrounding the Gulf War experience are being prepared and will be released as soon as they are completed. These reports, as well as future narratives, along with the documentary evidence and personal interviews will be posted on the GulfLINK Internet site (www.gulflink.osd.mil).

In addition to informing the public, narratives are intended to open up a dialogue with Gulf War veterans. Individuals who may have additional information or who can clarify these events are encouraged to call the Gulf War incident reporting hotline at 1-800-472-6719.

Gulf War veterans experiencing health problems are encouraged to receive a free health screening through the DoD's or Department of Veterans' Affairs health registries. Those individuals still on active duty, military retirees, or those affiliated with the Reserve components can arrange a medical examination through the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program at 1-800-796-9699. Those no longer affiliated with DoD, including Reserve personnel, can arrange a medical examination through the VA's Persian Gulf Registry at 1-800-749-8387.

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