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Czechs Repeating Medical Tests on Gulf War Veterans

October 26, 1996

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ Czech officials concerned about soldiers’ reports they detected traces of nerve gas during the Persian Gulf War have ordered further medical exams for their veterans.

About 40 Czech soldiers who served in the 1991 war have reported health problems, according to Czech media. Complaints _ headaches, joint pain, rashes, fatigue _ are similar to those of some U.S. veterans.

The Czech soldiers say the government never properly checked the health of a chemical unit that detected traces of nerve and mustard gas during the war, according to a report Friday night by the CTK state news agency.

The U.S. Army could not verify the unit’s claim it detected the gasses, Dr. Theodore Prociv, deputy assistant to the U.S. secretary of defense for chemical and biological matters, said this week in Prague.

``Our position is that without the verification it is not a true detection,″ Prociv said.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon said more than 15,000 U.S. soldiers may have been exposed to nerve gas. The Defense Department also has said there is little evidence to suggest that soldiers exposed to small amounts of chemical weapons would suffer long-term health problems.

Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Suman said last week that all of the 200 Czech soldiers who served in the Gulf War would undergo new medical exams. Information would not be released before tests are completed next spring, he said.

Suman said all Czech soldiers have had medical checkups, and were invited for repeat exams. Thirty-nine accepted, he said.

``None of the checkups showed, and I saw the papers, that their health problems would ... be caused by their stay in the Gulf,″ he said.

``Despite that, all medical documentation will be gathered and ... they will be repeatedly invited to undergo a complex examination.″

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