U.S. Accuses Soviets of Chemical Weapons Use (Great Events from History II: Ecology and the Environment Series)
Article abstract: The U.S. government alleged that the Laotian and Vietnamese military, under Soviet supervision, used fungal toxins against Hmong tribespeople, but the charges were later disproven.
Summary of Event
The “Yellow Rain” hearing before the Subcommittee on Arms Control of the Committee on Foreign Relations took place on November 10, 1981. Tales of atrocities abound in all wartime situations, but the U.S. government had begun checking for Soviet use of chemical warfare in Southeast Asia in 1979. The term “yellow rain” had first appeared in publication in The Baltimore Sun in an interview of a Hmong soldier. The soldier reported seeing a poisonous yellow spray delivered by an aircraft over Laos.
In March, 1982, Secretary of State Alexander Haig reported to the U.S. Congress and charged that air attacks had been used in the embattled area since the fall of 1978 to spray a yellowish substance on villages and crops. By November, 1982, the new secretary of state, George Shultz, repeated the charges before Congress, detailing that the yellow rain contained trichothecene toxins and other poisonous substances. The wide range of severe symptoms attributed to this chemical or biological agent included vomiting, skin lesions, bleeding, and blistering.
Four types of evidence were provided to support these serious charges: a large number of interviews with alleged witnesses to...
(The entire section is 2010 words.)
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