Skip to comments.Buried lab tools found at chemical plant
Posted on 04/11/2003 3:02:36 AM PDT by Prince Charles
Buried lab tools found at chemical plant
April 11, 2003
BY MATTHEW COX AND ROB CURTIS
KARBALA, Iraq--Troops with the 101st Airborne Division unearthed 11 steel shipping containers filled with sophisticated lab equipment buried on the grounds of a chemical plant in Karbala.
The equipment, discovered Wednesday at the Karbala Chemical plant by troops from the 326th Engineering Battalion, included computers and a spectrometer, a machine used to analyze chemical compounds.
Also found was a 750-pound centrifugal pump that was made in Finland and originally shipped to a company in Jordan that makes plastic drinking cups.
On Thursday, a team of civilian and military chemical experts cordoned off the chemical plant for investigation. Although the team did not immediately find proof of chemical weapons production, the site was considered an important discovery.
''It is important not to rush to any conclusions,'' said Maj. Brad Bartelt, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar. ''As the operation continues, we are using numerous methods to identify and look for any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.''
UN weapons inspectors visited a munitions factory adjacent to the chemical plant on Feb. 23 and did not find the buried equipment, UN spokesman Ewen Buchanan said.
Also Thursday, Fox News reported that U.S. Marines near Baghdad may have found a mobile lab for biological or chemical weapons.
A reporter with the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines said a truck containing guided-missile support equipment had a false wall that hid a remote-controlled pulley system resembling a hazardous materials laboratory, where substances could be mixed without direct human contact.
Meanwhile, officials said American troops who suggested they uncovered evidence of an active nuclear weapons program in Iraq unwittingly may have stumbled across known stocks of low-grade uranium. They said the U.S. troops may have broken UN seals meant to keep control of the radioactive material.
Leaders of a Marine Corps combat engineering unit claimed earlier this week to have found an underground network of laboratories, warehouses and bombproof offices beneath the closely monitored Tuwaitha nuclear research center just south of Baghdad.
The Marines said they discovered 14 buildings at the site which emitted unusually high levels of radiation, and that a search of one building revealed ''many, many drums'' containing highly radioactive material.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which has inspected the Tuwaitha nuclear complex at least two dozen times and maintains a thick dossier on the site, had no immediate comment.
But an expert familiar with UN nuclear inspections said it was implausible that U.S. forces had uncovered anything new at the site.
Gannett News Service, with AP contributing
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* Two chemical weapons labs found
* A roving weapons lab
* Containers with poison gas
* Evidence that poison was dumped into the Euphrates
* A complex of buildings with radiation levels off the chart
* Two terrorist training camps, one with an airplane fuselage for practicing skijacking
* And now this
No smoking ugn here...
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