chemical weapons found?

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    April 27 2003



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    Materials used in the manufacture of chemical weapons have been found by US troops in Iraq, news reports suggest.

    ABC News said preliminary testing revealed the materials, found in barrels near missiles, warheads and "suspicious vehicles" in nothern Iraq, were chemical agents.

    Reporter David Wright said troops had found "a number of suspicious containers" that appeared contained potentially dangerous chemical agents. Earlier finds turned out to be false alarms.

    However, a Pentagon official said the fact that the chemicals were found among warheads "raises the level of interest".

    A US Special Forces reconnaissance team found 14 unmarked barrels on Friday, along with at least 12 missiles and 150 gas masks, at the site east of Bayji, 130 miles northwest of Baghdad.



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    Partially looted vehicles were also found at the site, with dosage charts inside.

    Chemical weapons experts from the Army's 1-10 Cavalry was dispatched immediately.

    Their preliminary tests showed the materials in one of the barrels to be a mixture of three chemicals, including a nerve agent and blistering agent. Phipps said the tests have an accuracy of 98 percent.

    A team of international chemical weapons experts is expected to visit the site today.

    Nearby residents said the items had been dumped by Iraqi troops the day after US forces took Baghdad. They said an Iraqi officer stayed behind and stood watch over the material for two more days.

    Officials in Washington are stressing caution on the discovery in light of previous false alarms.

    Two dozen drums that initially tested positive for Sarin and mustard gas in an Iraqi military camp near Karbala were later found to be pesticides.

    The US has yet to find chemical weapons, but has discovered have gas masks, antidotes for chemical weapons, and documents that support the notion of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program, officials say.

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