Thatcher Secretly Armed Saddam Against UN Mandate

When I read the title “UK equipped Saddam during war on Iran” on one of today’s Press TV articles, I was not surprised at all.

It would not be an understatement to assert ‘remove the stone from top of most armed conflicts around the world and underneath, among the dirt and worms, you will find British Government.’


According the article, secret documents have revealed that the British government illicitly supplied the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime with military equipment during his eight-year-long imposed war on Iran.

Newly discovered files exposed that, despite the UK’s repeated denials, then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supplied 78 different types of military equipment to the Iraqi regime.

The article further states that a secret letter written by a junior minister to Thatcher discloses the contracts concluded with Iraq were worth more than GBP 150 million “in the last six months.” Exports were “narrowly” defined non-lethal equipment and introduced as exports under “Howe guidelines”-see below-

Adding a personal touch, Thatcher’s handwritten words “very pleased” were visible, as a sign of approval, at the top of the letter.

Findings show a clear violation of UN resolution 479, which the UK was a signatory. The resolution that was adopted in 1980 called upon all member states “to exercise the utmost restraint and to refrain from any act which may lead to a further escalation and widening of the conflict.”

The Iraqi regime invaded Iran on 22 September 1980 and employed a brutal war strategy including use of chemical weapons on Iranian civilians, killing thousands of people. The number of victims is estimated to be over 100,000 with 20,000 Iranian soldiers being killed immediately.

One wonders if Mr. Blair’s rush to invade Iraq, together with Bush administration, was an act of cover up or conscience clearance.  I guess we will know in coming 30 years, after another set of secret documents are revealed.

*The “Howe Principles/ Guidelines” or the “Government’s stated policy on arms sales to Iran and Iraq” was set out by Lord Howe, a former British Conservative politician, in October 1985 when he was UK’s Foreign Secretary under Thatcher administration. The Guidelines were:

  • We should maintain our consistent refusal to supply any lethal equipment to either side;
  • Subject to that overriding consideration, we should attempt to fulfill existing contracts and obligations;
  • We should not, in future, approve orders for any defense equipment which, in our view, would significantly enhance the capability of either side to prolong or exacerbate the conflict;
  • In the line with this policy, we should continue to scrutinize rigorously all applications for export licenses for the supply of defense equipment to Iran and Iraq.