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U.S. Says Iraq Retools Rockets for Illicit Uses

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posted on Mar, 10 2003 @ 02:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 9 United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq recently discovered a new variety of rocket seemingly configured to strew bomblets filled with chemical or biological agents over large areas, United States officials say.

The reconfigured rocket warheads appear to be cobbled together from Iraq's stockpiles of imported or home-built weapons, some which Iraq had used with both conventional and chemical warheads. Iraq contends that it has destroyed all its old chemical warheads, a claim that the inspectors have not verified.

An American official who described the weapon said it was discovered in the last few months, since the United Nations inspectors returned to Iraq in November. At first, he said, Iraq told the inspectors that it was designed as a conventional cluster bomb, which would scatter explosive submunitions over its target, and not as a chemical weapon. A few days later, he said, the Iraqis conceded that some might have been configured as chemical weapons.

The distinctive appearance of the rockets' cluster munitions, heavy metal balls with holes in them, suggested their use as a way to disperse chemical or biological weapons, said the official. "If you take the kinds of fuses we know they have, and you screw them in there, when these things come out from the main frame and they explode inward, chemical agents come out," he said.

"These can be used for biological weapons, too," he said.

NY Times Link - www.nytimes.com...




 
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