---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 19:01:20 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Vietnam slams US over Agent Orange
Vietnam slams US over Agent Orange
Story by David Brunnstrom
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
VIETNAM: March 7, 2002
HANOI - Vietnam has accused the United States of having waged chemical war,
saying the two countries need to draw up a plan to repair the damage caused
by the defoliant Agent Orange.
Speaking at the end of a landmark scientific conference on the effects of
defoliants sprayed by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, Vice Minister of
Science, Technology and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen said the two
governments now needed to discuss more than just research priorities.
"The objective is to bring dioxin contamination across Vietnam down to
internationally acceptable levels and do all that can be done to mitigate
the health effects," he said.
"The United States waged chemical warfare against Vietnam 30 years ago.
Cooperation with the U.S. is very necessary."
After the three day conference in Hanoi that brought together U.S. and
Vietnamese government scientists and international experts, the two
governments are due to hold bilateral talks.
Anne Sassaman of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences told the conference the talks over the next two days would deal
with setting research priorities.
She said collaboration that had been started between the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and Vietnam would likely result in scientists in Vietnam
being able to evaluate and define the extent of the residual hazard posed
by Agent Orange and dioxin.
She said the value of research in Vietnam went far beyond the borders of
the country. "Vietnam's experience may be unique, but dioxin exposure
itself is a worldwide issue," she said.
"All of us...go away from this meeting with some degree of responsibility
for making sure that this work moves forward."
MILLIONS OF GALLONS SPRAYED
U.S. forces dumped millions of gallons of Agent Orange on Vietnam during
the war that ended in 1975 to deny communist soldiers jungle cover.
Spraying was halted in 1971 after it was discovered its contained the most
dangerous form of dioxin, TCDD, and caused cancer in rats.
Vietnam estimates more than a million of its people were exposed to the
spraying, which it blames for tens of thousands of birth defects, but U.S.
government scientists at the conference questioned Hanoi's claims and said
such linkages would take many more years to prove.
The head of Vietnam's Red Cross, Nguyen Trong Nhan, said this week that
Agent Orange victims needed U.S. help now and could not wait years for more
research to be conducted.
Vice Minister Nguyen gave a list of preferred research directions, nearly
all focusing on human health effects and methods of cleanups.
It also included establishing a network of communal medical centres and
drugs to counter effects on the immune system, rehabilitation of those born
with birth defects and improved infrastructure in sprayed areas.
Vietnam Veterans of America, which has lobbied for years for compensation
for its members for the effects of Agent Orange, said it was anxious to see
research move ahead in Vietnam.
Its director of government relations Rick Weidman said research needed to
look at programmes to prevent new contamination in hotspots and at what
could be done to mitigate adverse health conditions of those already sick.
VVA president Tom Corey said he hoped the research could be completed quickly.
"We feel...we can have answers in less than a few years," he said. "I am
talking no more than three years there can be significant answers by joint
He said the issue of compensation for Vietnamese victims was one that had
to be sorted out between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments and between
Vietnam and the manufactures of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical Co and Monsanto Co.
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