Firebombs/Napalm

Defence written question – answered on 11th January 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Mark 77 firebombs have been used by Coalition forces (a) in Iraq and (b) in or near areas in Iraq where civilians lived; whether this weapon is equivalent to napalm; whether (i) the UK and (ii) the US has signed the UN convention banning the use of napalm against civilian targets; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence

The United States have confirmed to us that they have not used Mark 77 firebombs, which are essentially napalm canisters, in Iraq at any time. No other Coalition member has Mark 77 firebombs in their inventory.

The United Kingdom is bound under Protocol III to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) not to use incendiary weapons (which would include napalm) against military targets located within concentrations of civilians.

US policy in relation to international conventions is a matter for the US Government, but all of our allies are aware of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No8 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.

Annotations

Robbie G
Posted on 14 Jan 2005 2:14 pm (Report this annotation)

As Mr Ingram knows full well, the US did not sign the above treaty in respect of use of napalm.
There have also been reports of US Marine Corp personnel confirming the use of mark-77s.
See http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/08/1060145870882.html...

"I can confirm that Mark-77 fire bombs were used in that general area," said Colonel Mike Daily, of the US Marine Corps.

Colonel Daily said that US stocks of Vietnam-era napalm had been phased out, but that the Mark-77s had "similar destructive characteristics".

Alison K
Posted on 18 Apr 2005 4:14 pm (Report this annotation)

Actually, the US *has* admitted that its forces used Mark 77 firebombs in Iraq. On the State Department website, for example:

'...Mark-77 firebombs, which have a similar effect to napalm, were used against enemy positions in 2003.'
http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive_Index/Illegal_Weapons_...

Rather surprising that Ingram should be unaware of this.

Here is a briefing with more on the topic:
http://www.iraqanalysis.org/briefings/232

Julian Todd
Posted on 17 Jun 2005 8:23 am (Report this annotation)

It's apparently the job of a minister to be unaware of facts which contradict the official narrative.

Anyway, he's just now admitted to lying -- I beg your pardon -- "inadvertently misleading Parliament", because he had been misinformed by the US, in a private letter to Harry Cohen.

Jolly good show. If you get someone else to state a lie, which you repeat verbatim even when the evidence is to the contrary, it's not a lie then is it? Just as someone who knowingly deals with stolen goods is not a criminal, because they didn't actually do any stealing.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=64...

Aidan Boustred
Posted on 17 Jun 2005 5:31 pm (Report this annotation)

I thought that protocol required that when an MP inadvertently misleads the house, they should correct this at the earliest possible opportunity. Rather than writing a private letter, he should have made a public statement. His failure to do so is surely a matter for resignation.

He could shelter behind semantics, by claiming that he was only reporting what the US said, but there is a clear implication in his initial statement that Mk77s had actually not been used, not merely that he was reporting the US line which might or might not be true. In any case he was asked 'whether firebombs had been used', not 'whether the US publically admits that firebombs had been used'.

Given the widespread reports of the use of Mk77s including statements from US troops on the ground, it seems strange that Ingram did not do a little more digging to check whether the US assurances were correct, particularly when he was repeatedly asked similar questions. To fail to do so seems negligent.

Robbie G
Posted on 19 Jun 2005 2:44 pm (Report this annotation)

I think to describe Mr Ingram's conduct as merely negligent is generous in the extreme. It seems increasingly clear to me that once the decision was taken to "fix the facts and intelligence to suit the policy", that Ministers no longer felt burdened by the truth.
It is reassuring to see these lies being slowly picked apart one by one, but less reassuring to to see the total lack of any accountability for them.

Richard Wendland
Posted on 16 Nov 2005 1:26 pm (Report this annotation)

For the record, Adam Ingram's letter formally correcting this written answer is item 05/937 in the House of Commons Deposited Papers (http://edm.ais.co.uk/):

Letter dated 13/06/2005 from Adam Ingram MP to Harry Cohen MP regarding the use of MK77 firebombs by US forces in Iraq. 1 p

Unfortunately I can't track down an online copy of this letter, as I'd quite like to see the exact wording of the retraction.

Paul Mitchell
Posted on 16 Nov 2005 5:40 pm (Report this annotation)

Richard,

I too cannot find the complete letter online. However, this copy of an article by The Independent does include excerpts and may be helpful. Sorry if you've already seen it. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article9175.htm

If you want the complete letter, you have to ask the M.O.D. direct.

Richard Wendland
Posted on 13 Dec 2005 10:57 pm (Report this annotation)

Found an online copy of Ingram's "correct the position" letter:

http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchiesta/foto/documento_m...

Main interesting detail was that it was "US personnel in Iraq", not the Pentagon, who supplied the incorrect info.