Shannon and White Phosphorous?

Peace activists have raised concerns that Ireland may be facilitating the transport of White Phosphorous through Shannon Airport, following the landing of an unusual US military cargo plane at Shannon. "The plane landed at Shannon on January 8th, and stayed for a number of days. We noticed that it has unusual modifications at the back, which may be for specialised loading equipment for the cargo bay" said a spokesman for the group, ShannonWatch. The plane, a C-130 Hercules is based at Little Rock Air Force base, in Arkansas, a short distance from the Pine Bluff Arsenal White Phosphorous facility, which is the only active producer of White Phosphorous for the US military. "We are not sure what was on this plane, but without any inspections by the Gardai, we can not be sure what it is carrying, and given the horrific injuries to civilians in Fallujah and Gaza caused by this stuff, we should make sure that it is not passing through here, as its use is in fact a war crime, and banned by the Geneva Convention, as it burns through skin right down to the bone, and sets fire to buildings that it lands on. It cannot be extinguished with water." The use of White Phosphorous as a weapon is illegal under chemical weapons conventions. It has been used in Fallujah in Iraq, and also in Gaza, where, according to news reports, the batch numbers on the canisters show it to originate from the Arkansas factory. "The US military had claimed that White Phosphorous was used in Fallujah just as marker flares and for smoke screens. The IDF may claim the same thing about Gaza, but in both cases, human rights organisations found that it had killed or injured civilians" said Shannonwatch. The 1980 Geneva treaty says that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. It produces a thick white smoke when exposed to oxygen, but can cause severe burns and melt flesh to the bone if it comes into contact with skin. The lot number PB-91J011-002A visible in a photograph published by The Times last week indicates that the shells being used by the IDF were assembled in September 1991 at Pine Bluff arsenal in America, where all US white phosphorus munitions are reportedly made. The contractors are Chamberlain Manufacturing [metal parts only], General Dynamics, and Ordnance and Tactical Systems.

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