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Last Updated

09 Feb 2003

Source: The Bath Chronicle (UK), February 9, 2003

Why Iraq 's 'Dr Germ' is key target for weapons inspectors

A female scientist dubbed Dr Germ following her top level involvement in Iraq's biological weapons programme has denied that the regime "weaponised" lethal toxins and viruses.

United Nations weapons inspectors are keen to interview Dr Rihab Taha, the former head of the Iraqi regime's biological weapons programme, but she is said to have refused to meet them.

But the graduate of East Anglia University did agree to speak to the BBC's Panorama programme's Jane Corbin, who also wrote about the interview in the Sunday Telegraph.

Dr Taha told Ms Corbin that Iraq should be entitled to have biological weapons for defence.

She admitted that "we did produce biological agents" - but said that under her command the deadly anthrax and botulinum toxin were never "weaponised".

"We never had the intention to use it," she said. "We never wanted to cause harm and damage to anybody."

But she also conceded that she was not ashamed of her work developing biological weapons, saying: "No, not at all because in 1995, and until now, Iraq has been threatened by different enemies and we are in an area that suffers from regional conflict.

"I think it is our right to have a capability to defend ourselves and to have something as a deterrent."

In her report Ms Corbin says UN weapons inspectors discovered that lethal agents were made into munitions and that some were found dumped in a river near a deserted area called al'Hakem.

The UN inspectors reportedly want to speak to her about smaller-scale biological production in mobile laboratories. Dr Taha is suspected of taking charge of these after the destruction of al'Hakem.