]]]]]]]]  CUBAN TROOPS IN ANGOLA SAID TO USE POSION GAS     [[[[[[[[[
               by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak           (2/6/1989)
             Syndicated Column Mid-January 1988

            [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 07656GAED]
               
  While the Reagan administration in its final days threatens to des-
troy Libya's new chemical weapons plant, it is turning away from  in-
creasingly hard but unpublicized evidence that Soviet-sponsored Cuban 
troops  in Marxist Angola are using poison gas  againnst  U.S.-backed 
freedom fighters.
  An intelligence report this week went to a top Western source  from 
headquarters  of Jonas Savimbi's anti-Communist  guerrillas  charging 
120  deaths and 300 cases of paralysis from gas attacks.  The  origin 
of the chemical weapons: the Soviet bloc or Cuba.  That source  jibes 
with reports months ago by an international expert.
  Why  this disturbing information has not aroused U.S. officials  as 
did reports of Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadafi's poison gas plant may 
be explained by diplomatic Realpolitik.  The departing team of Presi-
dent Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz counts its cozy  new 
relationship   with  President  Mikhail  Gorbachev  as  one  of   the 
administration's  most  notable foreign  policy  achievements.   That 
breeds  a  natural reluctance to charge the Kremlin with  aiding  gas 
warfare.
  Furthermore,  the United States may not wish to stir the pot  after 
last  month's long-sought agreement between South Africa and  Angola.  
the  pact, calling for staged Cuban withdrawal of its  55,000  troops 
and an  end to South African aid for Savimbi, is viewed as one of the 
most sparkling jewels in Shultz's peace crown.  But poison gas may be 
used to destroy Savimbi's UNITA guerrillas before the Cuban's leave.
  Tough U.S. action against the users and perpetrators of poison  gas 
in  Angola is unlikely.  Not even an international investigation  re-
sulting from Shultz's speech at the chemical-war conference in  Paris 
last week can be counted on.
  That is true despite new evidence of poison gas in Angola.  Samples 
of  war-gas "identification kits" taken from Cuban prisoners after  a 
key  Angolan  battle  at  Cuito Cuanavale  were of Soviet origin. The
charge   against   Angola  and   its  Soviet-Cuban  allies  has  been
scrupulously  documented  by Dr. Aubin Heyndrickx,  a  world-renowned 
Belgian criminal toxologist and professor at the State University  of 
Ghent.   In a letter last May replying to questions  from  Democratic 
Sen. Dennis DeConcini about gas-war rumors, Heyndrickx wrote:  "There 
is  no doubt anymore that the Cubans were using nerve  gases  against 
the troops of Mr. Jonas Savimbi."
  U.S. officials have seemed reluctant to accept Heyndrickx's conclu-
sions  or  even to make a thorough investigation of their  own.   One 
high  official told us privately that Heyndrickx's  "reputatiion"  is 
not  all that high.  In fact, however, he was  wholly unaware of  the 
Belgian's background as the senior United Nations consultant on chem-
ical warfare.
  Heyndrickx's  voluminous  documentation  of his  charges  warn  the 
United States that if Soviet-Cuban managers in Angola used gas in the 
past,  they could use it in the future.  The purpose: defeat  Savimbi 
during the dangerous period before Cuban troop withdrawals.
  Other  sources  have told U.S. officials that Soviet  experts  were 
withdrawn  from Afghanistan in 1986 and sent to  Angopla.   Savimbi's 
supporters  are  dismayed  by the  Reagen  administration's  apparent 
reluctance to dig into these charges of gas use against a U.S.-backed 
force with the same vigor of the president's threats against  Libya's 
new chemical plant.
  The  unpleasant conclusion is a U.S. double standard in the  inter-
ests of detente.  Just as the hard line against terrorism faded  when 
it came to possible KGB complicity in the murder of Pakistan's Presi-
dent Zia, so does determination to rout out the use of poison gas  if 
a made-in-the-Kremlin label is spotted.

                    *       *       *


Return to the ground floor of this tower
Return to the Main Courtyard
Return to Fort Freedom's home page