7 Jun 2002

Marshalls seek information on claims of secret chemical weapons tests

3:35 pm on 7 June 2002

Marshall Island officials are seeking details from the US Government about secret biological and chemical weapons testing reportedly undertaken at Enewetak and possibly other islands.

The Marshalls are seeking information after news of the secret 1960s experiments, including one at the former Enewetak nuclear test site, was revealed last month by the US media.

The reports said the US Defense Department sprayed nerve, chemical and biological gas on ships and sailors in the 1960s.

The media reports also revealed a test at Enewetak that involved a plane dumping a toxin that caused flu-like symptons.

A Marshalls Embassy staff member in Washington DC, Holly Barker, says that expert testimony in the Rongelap damages claim before the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, described a flu outbreak there in 1968.

Ms Barker says there is a link between the tests and the flu outbreak that eventually took two lives.

The Defense Department tests were to ascertain how quickly the chemical and biological agents could be detected, how rapidlyy they dispersed and how effectively the Navy's protective gear and decontamination efforts worked.