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Jane’s Says Bosnian Muslims Produced Chemical Weapons

December 3, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Bosnian Muslims produced chemical weapons during the 3 1/2-year Bosnian war but stopped making them early this year after the fighting ended, Jane’s Intelligence Review reports.

In the January issue of the Review, a Bosnian Muslim journalist writing under the pseudonym Enis Dzanic said Muslims produced 120 mm chlorine-filled mortar rounds in the industrial city of Tuzla, now headquarters for U.S. peacekeeping troops in Bosnia.

Chlorine gas was first used by Germany against allied troops in World War I, choking many soldiers to death in trenches. The Geneva protocol of 1925 banned the use of both chemical and biological weapons.

Robert Hall, editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review, said it is not clear whether the Bosnian Muslims used any of the chlorine rounds during the war.

But according to Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, a London-based, subscription-only publication that circulates to senior government officials in 160 countries, Bosnian Muslims fired chlorine-filled 120 mm shells against Bosnian Serbs in August 1993.

The shells were used on at least three occasions during battles around the village of Boskovici in the Zvornik area, according to the report in the Aug. 31, 1993, issue. The U.N. Protection Force was quoted as confirming the use of chlorine weapons and collecting soil samples for analysis.

``I think it highlights the fact that in these localized, albeit bloody conflicts around the world, it is all too easy to manufacture and deploy a chemical munition or mine,″ Hall said.

The warring parties in former Yugoslavia regularly accused each other of chemical warfare.

The Bosnian Serbs were accused of using phosphorous projectiles and chemical gases, and the Croatian military is known to have captured chemical-filled munitions that belonged to the former Yugoslav army.

``It means that all three sides had access, and possibly used chemical munitions,″ said Norman Erik, who often writes about former Yugoslavia for Jane’s publications, which offer independent analyses of weaponry around the world.

Chemical weapons are cheap, deadly and will be outlawed in at least 65 countries, including Croatia, at the end of April, when the Chemical Weapons Convention comes into force. The Croatians have stated that they will destroy the chemical munitions they captured, but it is not believed they have the facilities to do so.

Bosnia and Yugoslavia have not even signed the convention, which bans development, production, stockpiling and transfer of such arms.

Under the Dayton peace accords, the Bosnian defense industry cannot manufacture weapons for itself, but is permitted to manufacture for export.

While all production of chlorine-filled mortar rounds and other homemade weapons has ceased in Tuzla, Dzanic said that ``both the capability and capacity of Bosnia’s defense industry have grown since the formal ending of the war in former Yugoslavia.″

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