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Hunt continuing for Iraq's trove of terror

©Associated Press

April 16, 2003

Q: What type of chemical weapons is Saddam Hussein alleged to have had?

A: According to the United States, Hussein had 20 or 30 Scud missiles capable of carrying chemical or biological weapons. Officials say Hussein's military may have had 550 artillery shells containing mustard gas, other precursors that could have brought his stockpile up to 500 tons of chemical agents, and 6,500 bombs left over from Iraq's war with Iran.

The United States says Iraq never accounted for these weapons.

Aside from that, officials contend the Iraqi government had at least seven mobile biological weapons labs mounted on road trailers and railroad cars. These facilities, they argue, could have been used to produce, in one month, enough of a dry biological agent such as anthrax or botulinum toxin to kill thousands.

Last month, in the days before the fighting began, Iraq destroyed at least 70 banned Al Samoud 2 missiles, and handed over to U.N. inspectors videotapes of mobile biological weapons labs. It also submitted a report containing results from soil samples taken from an area where it claimed to have destroyed its stocks of VX nerve gas in 1991.

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Q: What have U.S. soldiers found so far?

A: They have found several suspected chemical or biological weapons sites, but testing revealed those sites were used for other purposes, such as explosives, pesticides or agricultural products. Not all the tests results are in, though.

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Q: What do U.S. commanders have to say about the fact that Hussein didn't use chemical weapons against U.S. troops as they thought he would?

A: "The fact that they've not been used yet is a success story. It's not the story of failure by any means," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks of U.S. Central Command in Qatar said Tuesday. "Now the work of removing the weapons of mass destruction can begin in earnest."

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Q: What happens if troops find suspected dangerous weapons?

A: They use detectors and monitoring equipment to determine if they are chemical or radiological, Brooks said. After that, military units that can examine the weapons in greater detail are brought in. The weapons may be taken away for further testing and confirmation.

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Q: How else does the United States hope to locate Iraqi weapons now that Hussein is gone?

A: Pentagon officials said Tuesday that they are offering rewards ranging from $2,500 up to $200,000 for this information, and U.S. soldiers also will provide food or other necessities to encourage Iraqi citizens to share what they may know.

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