Dutch State 'paying for Iraq's mustard gas'
23 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government is demanding that the Overseas Development Ministry bear the costs of mustard gas materials that Dutch company Melchemie illegally exported to Iraq in 1985, but never received payment for.
23 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government is demanding that the Overseas Development Ministry bear the costs of mustard gas materials that Dutch company Melchemie illegally exported to Iraq in 1985, but never received payment for.
A United Nations commission is currently handling the accounts of companies that did business with Iraq. The Dutch State has 41 accounts relating to Iraq, totalling USD 245 million (EUR 200 million).
The Finance Ministry confirmed the figures, but refused to say whether money from the Dutch chemical company was included. Despite the denial, the company is included on the UN list, newspaper Trouw reported Friday.
In 1985, Melchemie exported base chemicals for the production of mustard gas to Iraq for EUR 1 million. The Arnhem-based company was never paid by Iraq, but was later relieved of the debt by the Dutch government via export credit insurance. The government then took over the Iraqi account.
The Netherlands is now planning to write off part of Iraq's debt, which will be included as "aid" on the budget of the Overseas Development Ministry. The interest accumulated on the Melchemie bill has reportedly pushed the total amount up to EUR 2 million.
Melchemie was found guilty in 1987 of supplying four base mustard gas chemicals to Iraq. In March 1988, more than 4,000 Kurdish people were killed by a deadly gas in the Iraq city Halabja, but a direct link between the Melchemie-exported materials and the gas used has never been proven.
Socialist Party MP Hans van Heijningen has labelled the affair scandalous and environmental assistance agency Both Ends said it was "sour" that writing off Iraq's debt would come at the cost of overseas aid.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news