The Department of Defense and the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence today jointly released the final version of their case narrative "Kuwaiti Girls' School," updating a 1998 interim release and officially closing the department's investigation of this incident. The report details the significant events surrounding 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 assessed the liquid in the tank was "definitely not" a chemical warfare agent but was nitric acid, most likely inhibited red fuming nitric acid, a highly corrosive fuel component Iraq used in its missiles.
Iraq used the girls' school as a Seersucker anti-ship missile test and maintenance facility during the Gulf War. After the war, coalition forces removed the missiles and associated equipment left behind by the Iraqis. A British explosive ordnance disposal firm discovered a suspicious storage tank outside the school's perimeter wall several months later. Many initial tests of the substance in the tank indicated the presence of a chemical warfare agent, but further detailed analysis "showed no material of chemical warfare interest." British forces concluded, "samples were entirely consistent with the contents of the tank being nitric acid."
U.S. Senate hearings in 1994 raised the prospect that the tank contained a mix of chemical agents. The official Defense Department position on the contents reflected the British conclusion - nitric acid. The DoD position was further questioned by Congress, the British Parliament, in the media and in meetings of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.
In 1997, the DoD's Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses and the MoD's Gulf War Veterans' Unit conducted a joint investigation of the contents to reassess available information and study the matter further. The joint investigation included dozens of interviews with 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-government organizations.
"This case is a milestone because it involved cooperation between our two countries," said Michael E. Kilpatrick, M.D., the chief of staff for the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness, and Military Deployments. "The MoD and DoD have developed an outstanding collaborative relationship, which can only help the Gulf War veterans of both countries."
The narrative, including the documentary evidence and personal interviews, is posted on the GulfLINK Internet site at http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/kuwaiti_final/ . 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 reporting line at (800) 497-6261 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org .