IS it the mother of all double standards in the war against Iraq, turning the stated aim for Operation Iraqi Freedom on its head? Apart from the unrivalled arsenal of the US military in Iraq, its troops are also armed with "riot control" agents and "calmative" chemicals to deal with tough urban situations. President George Bush reportedly authorised the Pentagon to use "riot-control" agents such as tear gas and pepper spray in certain battlefield scenarios before the war started. Experts contend the order violates the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which bans the use of any chemicals in warfare. But Washington claims the use of "non-lethal riot-control" gases can save lives, acting once again by its own set of rules and pitching itself in a lonely corner of world opinion.
Chemical weapons and arms control experts told Outlook that Bush gave a green signal through an "executive order" before the US attacked Iraq. One report says the toxic agents were shipped to the Gulf early March. The controversial move angered British officials, who told the Pentagon they wouldn’t allow their troops to be part of any operation involving chemical agents.