Inspectors Find Empty Warheads

  1. BAGHDAD, Iraq (Jan. 16) - U.N. inspectors on Thursday found 11 empty chemical warheads in ''excellent'' condition at an ammunition storage area where they were inspecting bunkers built in the late 1990s, a U.N. spokesman reported.

    A 12th warhead, also of a 122 mm, was found that requires further evaluation, according to the statement by Hiro Ueki, the spokesman for U.N. weapons inspectors in Baghdad.

    The team used portable X-ray equipment for a preliminary analysis of one of the warheads and collected samples for chemical testing, Ueki's statement said.

    ''The warheads were in excellent condition and were similar to ones imported by Iraq during the late 1980's,'' the statement said.

    The warheads were found during a visit by inspectors to the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area, 75 miles south of Baghdad.

    U.N. inspectors are searching for evidence Iraq still has chemical, nuclear or biological weapons programs. They are expected to report preliminary findings to the U.N. Security Council in New York by Jan. 27.

    On Dec. 7, a chemical team secured a dozen artillery shells filled with mustard gas that had first been inventoried by their predecessors in the 1990s. Thursday's find was the first batch of weapons of mass destruction brought under their control in the new round of inspections in Iraq.

    U.N. inspectors have said Iraq's final weapons declaration made in December failed to support its claims to have destroyed missiles, warheads and chemical agents such as VX nerve gas.

    The United States and Britain doubt Iraq is committed to giving up its weapons of mass destruction and have dispatched thousands more troops to the Gulf region for a possible military showdown.

    Washington has cited nine areas in which it said Iraq's declaration fails to give a complete picture of weapons holdings. These include thousands of pounds of unaccounted-for materials for producing anthrax, and the chemical precursors for manufacturing mustard gas.

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