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In 1979 a new and horrible image of technological barbarism was born. 'Yellow Rain', claimed the US State Department, was devastating the mountain tribes of Laos as the Pathet Lao government battled with the remnants of the 'Secret Army', which the CIA had raised from the Hmong tribe during the Indochinese war. Lethal trichothecene toxins, never before developed for chemical warfare, were identified as the mystery weapon:, the Soviet Union. as the culprit. No physical evidence capable of withstanding scientific scrutiny has ever been produced in support of the us allegations.
Grant Evans has carefully sifted the us testimony and compared it with the results of his own first-hand researches among Hmong refugees in Thailand and in Laos itself. He has examined the quality of the medical and physical evidence used to prove that chemical warfare is occurring. Evans also explores the recent history and culture of the Hmong tribe, a primitive people battered and traumatized by war since the early 1960s. The manipulation of their panic and fear, he argues, lies at the centre of the whole controversy. The analysis is set against the political development of Laos since 1975.
Grant Evans allows that the Vietnamese and Laotians may be employing riot-control gases, of the type used extensively and dumped by the USA in Indochina. The 'Yellow Rain' stories are quite another matter. Evans argues that unsupported allegations of toxin warfare—from whatever source. and he instances the North Korean allegations in the 1950s - jeopardize international arms control and ultimately contribute to frightening developments in the chemical arms race. The 'Yellow Rain' allegations formed a pretext for the us decision in 1982 to proceed with the manufacture of deadly 'binary' nerve-gas weapons.