U.S. Lies Behind the
Bombing of Sudan

Revolutionary Worker #972, September 6, 1998

When U.S. cruise missiles destroyed the Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, on August 20, officials in Washington were ready with their slick justifications. They claimed that the factory made a chemical used in the manufacture of a nerve gas known as VX--and that the factory made no products for commercial use. They alleged that Islamic fundamentalist leader Osama bin Laden had financed the factory and that it was part of his international "terror network." They said that the factory was a heavily guarded, top-secret military facility.

What was the supposed evidence for these charges? The U.S. officials said that a soil sample secretly collected from outside the factory nine months ago showed traces of the chemical Empta. They claimed that Empta could only be used for making VX. They insisted that this evidence was rock solid. And the U.S. blocked a move to send a United Nations team to inspect the bombed-out factory.

But these justifications have been quickly exposed as lies:

  • Experts on chemicals pointed out that Empta closely resembles several commercially available pesticides and herbicides used in farming. Such a commercial chemical is what could have been in the soil sample that the U.S. supposedly collected from near the factory.
  • Even if the chemical in the soil sample was actually Empta, this is not evidence of chemical weapon manufacture. Experts said that Empta could be the product of the breakdown of other pesticides. And an international agency that oversees the enforcement of a chemical weapons treaty--which the U.S. signed--said that Empta could have commercial uses. A columnist in the Chicago Tribune pointed out on August 30 that the Aldrich Chemical Company in Milwaukee produces Empta.
  • The Shifa factory, in fact, produces a large part of the antibiotics and other medicine in Sudan, for humans and farm animals. It even had a contract with the United Nations. Far from being a secret facility, people in the neighborhood said everybody knew about the existence of this pharmaceutical factory. There were no armed guards protecting its entrances. Foreign technicians who worked there said they had no problems moving through all parts of the factory.
  • According to the New York Times, some U.S. officials are admitting that funds from Osama bin Laden "did not directly flow to the plant itself."
  • The U.S. destroyed a medicine factory in a very poor country--and then tried to cover up their shameful crime with shoddy lies. This is yet another example of why U.S. imperialism is hated by people all over the world.

    This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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