The United States has used white phosphorus in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Russia used it in Chechnya. Britain in Falklands. Saddam Hussein dropped it on the Kurds. Israel pounded Lebanon and Gaza with it (in 2009 in high density population areas including a school with 1,600 children and a UN building).
Officially white phosphorus is an incendiary weapon, not a chemical weapon. UN cites legitimate marking of targets and illumination and shielding of movements as common uses.
The reality is different.
Here is how it works: You cram 15.6 pounds of white phosphorus inside a 155mm projectile and shoot it over the general target area. The shell explodes, dispersing 116 white phosphorus-coated felt wedges over an area of 250 meters in diameter. Soon as the phosphorus comes in contact with air it starts to burn with up to 1,500 Fahrenheit. It burns through everything. Asphalt. Metal. Flesh.
As long as there is oxygen, it continues to burn. In the case of humans, down to the bone. Gas tanks and cars will blow up, setting everything on fire.
Victims who are lucky enough to survive 3rd degree burns later often succumb to liver, heart, and kidney damage. Or they get cancer or die of multiple organ failure, because of phosphorus’ high toxicity. The residue is phosphoric acid, which continues to damage human tissue.
Still, white phosphorus is not considered a chemical weapon. It’s considered business.
Guess who makes white phosphorus?
Because of this key contribution, the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website states that Monsanto could require special government protection “in the event of a national emergency.”
Although Monsanto has been the exclusive producer of white phosphorus in the United States, the U.S. military solicited 180,000 lbs of white phosphorus on November 16, 2012 from a wider supply base, including India, China and Israel, because of higher demand, “lower costs, and the lack of EPA regulations in those countries.”
Watch the Human Rights Watch report on white phosphorus usage in Gaza.
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