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2nd Site With U.N.-Sealed Arms Was Looted, Inspectors Report * Chemical Shells May Be Missing

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  • MewNews Editor
    New York Times October 31, 2004 WEAPONS 2nd Site With U.N.-Sealed Arms Was Looted, Inspectors Report By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2004
      New York Times
      October 31, 2004
      2nd Site With U.N.-Sealed Arms Was Looted, Inspectors


      Looters overran an Iraqi complex last year where a
      bunker holding old chemical weapons was sealed by
      United Nations monitors, American arms inspectors have

      The American inspectors say all of the sealed
      structures at the Muthanna site, 35 miles northwest of
      Baghdad, were broken into. But it is unknown if usable
      chemical warheads were in the bunker, what may have
      been taken and by whom.

      "Clearly, there's a potential concern, but we're
      unable to estimate the relative level of it because we
      don't know the condition of the things inside the
      bunker," said Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the United
      Nations arms inspection agency, whose specialists have
      been barred from Iraq since the invasion.

      In a lengthy Oct. 6 report summarizing a fruitless
      search for banned weapons in Iraq, the inspectors
      known as the Iraq Survey Group disclosed that
      widespread looting occurred at Muthanna after the fall
      of the Iraqi capital in April 2003.

      An annex of the 985-page report said every United
      Nations-sealed location at the desert installation had
      been breached in the looting spree, and "materials and
      equipment were removed."

      Bunker 2 at Muthanna State Establishment, once Iraq's
      central chemical weapons production site, was put
      under the control of the United Nations in early 1991
      after it was damaged by an American bomb in the
      Persian Gulf war. At the time, Iraq said 2,500
      sarin-filled artillery rockets had been stored there.

      The United Nations teams sealed the bunker with brick
      and reinforced concrete, rather than immediately
      attempt the risky job of clearing weapons or remnants
      from under a collapsed roof and neutralizing them.

      A C.I.A. analysis hypothesized in 1999 that all the
      sarin must have been destroyed by fire. But a United
      States General Accounting Office review last June
      questioned that analysis, and the United Nations,
      whose teams were there, said the extent of destruction
      was never determined.

      One chemical weapons expert said even old, weakened
      nerve agents - in this case sarin - could be a threat
      to unprotected civilians.

      The weapons involved would be pre-1991 artillery
      rockets filled with sarin, or their damaged remnants -
      weapons that were openly declared by Iraq and were
      under United Nations control until security fell apart
      with the American attack.

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