UNSCOM report questions Iraq on chemical weapons
Iraq-UN, Politics, 10/27/1998
A meeting of international chemical weapons experts, held by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) last week to assess the results of tests on Iraqi warheads for traces of the VX chemical weapon agent, reported discrepencies with Iraqi claims that the warheads did not contain chemical weapons.
UNSCOM, in its report completed last Friday, recommended as a result of the tests "that UNSCOM invite Iraq to explain first the origin and history of the fragments analysed by all three laboratories and then the presence of degradation products of nerve agents."
The report, which was submitted yesterday to the UN Security Council for deliberation, continued that under the UNSCOM recommendations, "Iraq would be invited to explain the presence of a compound known as VX stabilizer and its degradation product, and to provide more information on the Iraqi efforts during the period mid-1988 to the end of 1990 to develop and produce VX by improved synthetic routes."
Iraq has admitted to having a program to produce VX, but said that they were unable to produce a weapons-grade version of the chemical.
The UNSCOM report deals with the findings of a US lab, which initially indicated the presence of chemical weapons in June from samples taken in April, and subsequent tests performed by labs in the United States, Switzerland and France to verify the earlier test.
"The existence of VX degradation products conflicts with Iraq's declarations that the warheads had never contained chemical weapons," the report said. "The findings by all three laboratories of chemicals, known as degradation products of decontamination compound, also do not support Iraq's declarations that these warhead containers had only been in contact with alcohols," the report added.
However, the report also noted discrepancies in the test results from the three laboratories, "In particular, the presence of certain non-CW related compounds in a significant amount of the June / July samples, which are completely absent from the April set of samples has no obvious explanation."
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