October 26

US transferred virulent anthrax to Iraq; Saddam used it for weapons – London Times

US transferred virulent anthrax to Iraq; Saddam used it for weapons – London Times

Sun, 14 Aug 2005

The author of this Infomail is Meryl Nass, MD, a recognized expert on biological warfare and who had first uncovered the use of anthrax as a biological weapon in Rhodiesia.   

Dr. Nass is a board member of AHRP.

The following story, which appeared in the August 9 issue of the London Times  (below) hits the high points of an investigation undertaken by my colleague Geoffrey Holland.

Holland was able to trace back the origin of Saddam’s weaponizable anthrax–the primary WMD that led the US to initiate two wars on Iraq. It came from the US American Type Culture Collection (ATTC).

Contrary to what the US government said when Senate Banking Committee hearings were first held on this transfer, ATCC did not confine its transfers to Iraq to nonpathogenic strains and vaccine strains.

The US and UK had weaponized this exact same strain for use against Germany during World War 2. The war ended before the weapons were used. The strain had originally come from the UK. It was widely known to be a very virulent strain.

Why is this information only coming out now? Confusion had been introduced by referring to the anthrax strain by its number in the ATTC collection, rather than by its common name, Vollum. Holland spent months painstakingly tracking down the origin of this strain, and was thus able to prove that it was one and the same Vollum strain that hadoriginally been weaponized by the US and UK, and was later selected by Saddam as the strain of choice for Iraq. This Vollum anthrax strain from the ATCC was the only strain of anthrax made into weapons by the Iraqi government.

Holland also asked a very important question in his original paper on this subject, which is definitely worth a read. According to the Biological Weapons Convention, i.e., a major treaty of international law initiated by the US with strong support from the UK, transfers of biological weapons are prohibited, and nations that come to know of such transfers are asked to notify the Security Council. Weaponizable anthrax was deliberately transferred from the US to the Iraqi government, with the approval of  the US Commerce Department. This was a violation of international law, and should be treated as such.

Holland’s paper can be found at: http://deepblade.net/journal/Holland_JUNE2005.pdf

Interviews with Geoff Holland can be arranged via his email address: geoffreyholland2001 at yahoo.co.uk

Meryl Nass, MD
Mount Desert Island Hospital
Bar Harbor, Maine 04609
207 288-5081 ext. 220
email: mnass at gwi.net 

Here is the London Times’ account:


August 09, 2005
Saddam’s germ war plot is traced back to one Oxford cow
By Dominic Kennedy

A BRITISH cow that died in an Oxfordshire field in 1937 has emerged as the source of Saddam Hussain¹s “weapons of mass destruction” programme that led to the Iraq war.

An ear from the cow was sent to an English laboratory, where scientists discovered anthrax spores that were later used in secret biological warfare tests by Winston Churchill.

The culture was sent to the United States, which exported samples to Iraq during Saddam¹s war against Iran in the 1980s. Inspectors have found that this batch of anthrax was the dictator¹s choice in his attempts to create biological weapons.

The discovery has angered some British politicians. Austin Mitchell,the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, has renewed his call, supported by 126 MPs in the last Parliament, for a UN investigation into whether Washington broke a weapons control agreement. “It just makes them look more hypocritical than ever,” he said.

The odyssey of the Iraqi anthrax was unravelled by Geoffrey Holland, a politics student and antiwar campaigner at the University of Sussex. The exact batch chosen by Saddam was disclosed in the CIA report by Charles Duelfer, the former UN weapons inspector, last autumn.

“Iraq declared researching different strains of B. anthracis, but settled on the American Type Culture Collection strain 14578 as the exclusive strain for use as a BW,” Mr Duelfer said.

A congressional investigation into Gulf War syndrome by Don Riegle had already uncovered invoices showing that this batch was shipped from the United States between 1986 and 1988.

The ATCC is a private, non-profit-making collection of cultures of living micro-organisms, viruses, plants and human and animal cells, stored in Virginia.

Its catalogue shows that batch 14578 consists of “bovine anthrax”, isolated by R. L. Vollum, a professor of bacteriology at Oxford University during the 1930s. It is named after him.

Martin Hugh-Jones, who co-ordinates the World Health Organisation¹s Working Group on Anthrax Research and Control, said: “We have traced it back and it would have come in on some contaminated bones from Southern Rhodesia.

“England was importing sun-dried bones from dead animals in the colonies. They would be shipped to London and used to make soap. When they got the fat out, (the bones) were meant to be sterilised and ground as bone meal and fed to cattle. The sterilisation was not always complete. It was the major cause of anthrax for almost 100 years.”

The Vollum anthrax was used in biological weapons tests on the Scottish island of Gruinard in 1942, which had to be quarantined for 48 years. “It killed any number of sheep in Gruinard,” Professor Hugh-Jones said.

“(Saddam) obviously at one point had a programme because he was buying the laboratory¹s cultures to underwrite a programme. Why would he want peaceful research with Vollum? Come on!”


Anthrax is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The spores can survive in soil for years. Herbivores are most vulnerable. Humans get it from contaminated flesh.

The word comes from the Greek for “coal” because victims develop black skin lesions. Contaminated mail was used to attack US Congress in 2001. Two postal workers died.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted (© ) material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

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