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  • Images of the effects of mustard gas on soldiers

    Images of the effects of mustard gas on soldiers' skin. | Photo: Naval Research Laboratory

The U.S. Defence Department has, for the first time, admitted that it carried out race-based tests on U.S. troops as part of its research about mustard gas.

The U.S. Government used Black soldiers as human guinea pigs in chemical experiments during World War II, according to a new NPR report.  

Around 60,000 U.S. soldiers were enlisted in a classified chemical weapons testing program in which soldiers were enclosed in gas chambers and exposed to chemicals.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on Black skins,” Rollins Edwards, a U.S. Army soldier during World War II told NPR.

“You had no choice. You did not know where you were going. They didn’t tell you anything,” Edwards added.

Edwards testimony in the NPR investigative report helped reveal that the experiments carried out by the U.S. Defense Department were conducted on the basis of race.

Army Col Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon confirmed the findings of the research stating, “The first thing to be very clear about is that the Department of Defense does not conduct chemical weapons testing any longer.”

The report went on to discover that Japanese-Americans as well as Puerto Ricans were also enlisted in the secret chemical weapons program so that scientists could determine the impact of mustard gas and other toxic chemicals on humans.  

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