[sixties-l] Vietnam slams US over Agent Orange (fwd)

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Date: Thu Mar 07 2002 - 19:00:45 EST

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    Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 19:01:20 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Vietnam slams US over Agent Orange

    Vietnam slams US over Agent Orange


    Story by David Brunnstrom
    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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