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No Weapons of Mass Destruction

Yet again...no weapons of mass destruction...
Story posted on the BBC website
Last Updated: Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK

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Vials 'not chemical weapons'


The US military says one sample was labelled "tabun"
Initial analysis of a white powder found in thousands of boxes near the Iraqi capital indicate that it was not a chemical weapon, a US officer is quoted as saying.
A special team was sent to investigate the discovery at Latifiya - part of a large military complex frequently visited frequently by UN weapons inspectors before the war began.

"On first analysis it does not appear to be a chemical that could be used in a chemical weapons attack," Colonel John Peabody told Reuters news agency.

Peabody, commander of the Engineer Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, said most of it appeared to be the chemical antidote atropine, and another chemical.

Further tests are to be carried out.

Military officers also said they discovered documents in Arabic, which apparently explain how to carry out chemical warfare.

US troops also reportedly found a second site nearby containing vials of unidentified liquid and white powder.

The Iraqi authorities have not commented on the finds so far. The regime has denied hiding chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction from UN inspectors.

When hostilities finish, there will be huge pressure on the US and Britain to find Saddam's alleged chemical weapons - the supposed reason for going to war - BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says.

Recent inspection


NERVE AGENTS

Iraqi protective gear - found at several sites


Chemical weapons: Nerve agents

A senior US official said the white powder found at Latifiya was believed to be explosives, AP reported.

Latifiya is part of the large Qa Qa military complex south-west of Baghdad.

It is one of a number of sites clustered around the capital where the Iraqi Government is thought to have developed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the BBC's Paul Adams says.

UN inspectors have visited the plant at least a dozen times, including as recently as 18 February.

Nerve agent

In a separate development, US military spokesman Vincent Brooks said troops in the western desert had found what they suspected was a training school for nuclear, chemical and biological warfare.

One bottle found at the site was labelled "tabun" - a nerve agent that the US Government says may have been used during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

"In that particular site, we believe that was the only sample," Brooks said.

"That's why we believe it was a training site. Our conclusion is that this was not a (weapons of mass destruction) site ... it proved to be far less than that."

Photos of the site showed shelves of brown bottles with yellow labels. Brooks said troops did not understand some of the labels and were collecting the bottles for examination by experts.

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