Update on U.S. British Cooperative Efforts on Gulf War Illnesses

Washington, February 10, 1998 (GulfLINK) - The Department of Defense's Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses is coordinating with the British Ministry of Defence to follow up on intelligence information recently received by the British which indicates that, at the time of the Gulf War, Iraq may have possessed large quantities of a chemical warfare agent known as Agent 15.

U.S. and British governments have known since 1985 that Iraq was investigating chemical warfare agents of this type. Agent 15 is one of a large group of chemicals called glycolates. The best known is usually referred to by the initials, BZ. Information on BZ has been declassified and posted on GulfLINK since 1995. BZ is also mentioned in DoD's 1994 responses to U.S. Senate Banking Committee questions on Iragi chemical and biological capabilities, which is also available on GulfLINK.

The first indications the British received that Iraq might have possessed large stocks of Agent 15 came late last year. The U.S. intelligence community is working with their British counterparts to assess the accuracy and reliability of the information.

"We and the British military are fully committed to following these and other leads which may help us understand why many Gulf War veterans are ill," said Bernard Rostker, DoD's special assistant for Gulf War illnesses.