IRAQ VOWS TO HELP UN VERIFY ANTHRAX, VX WERE DESTROYED



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Last Updated

15 Mar 2003

Source: Newsday, March 14, 2003

Iraq vows to help UN verify anthrax, VX were destroyed

by Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Iraq will deliver a letter to UN inspectors this week on measuring stocks of anthrax and VX nerve agents that have been destroyed, Iraq's UN ambassador said.

Inspectors have said they do not expect the letter to contain any new information about the stocks of anthrax or VX themselves.

Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said he was expecting the letter to arrive from Baghdad either late Thursday or Friday.

Iraq has opened a pit where it says it dumped stocks of anthrax and VX, along with neutralizing agents, in 1991. Baghdad has asked inspectors to analyze soil samples to verify the unilateral destruction.

The inspectors have said that would be difficult.

"If you pour some milk into the ground 10 years ago, then analyze the soil . . . it might not be so easy to see whether it was 1 liter or 2 liters or 100 liters," Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said last week.

But Blix said he would be willing to consider Iraqi technical proposals for how to quantify the trace chemicals in the soil, which Iraq has promised to give him in a letter.

U.S. officials noted that 12 days ago, Iraq promised to produce a letter within a week that would shed light on missing stocks of anthrax and VX.

"We still haven't heard anything," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte. "I think you can chalk this one up as another unfulfilled Iraqi promise."

Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for Blix, confirmed Thursday that he had not received a letter on anthrax and VX.