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Pentagon Confirms Discovery of Possible Iraqi Mobile Bio-Weapon Lab - 2003-05-07


The Pentagon has confirmed the discovery in Iraq of what appears to be a mobile biological weapons laboratory used by the ousted government of Saddam.

The announcement was made at the Pentagon by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone.

Mr. Cambone says the mobile lab is similar to the ones described earlier this year in an appearance before the U.N. Security Council by Secretary of State Colin Powell. It includes interior equipment and features revealed by an Iraqi defector who was the primary source about the portable facilities.

Mr. Cambone tells reporters experts believe the device could have had only one purpose - the production of biological weapons. "So while some of the equipment on the trailer could have been for purposes other than biological weapons agent production, U.S. and UK tactical experts have concluded that the unit does not appear to perform any function beyond what the defector said it was for - the production of biological agents," he said.

Intelligence sources have disclosed the trailer was scoured by a powerful cleanser in an apparent decontamination effort before it fell into U.S. hands in northern Iraq earlier this month.

But Mr. Cambone says specialists intend to perform more thorough tests to see if they can discover trace elements of biological agents.

He stops short of calling the find "the smoking gun" that proves conclusively that Iraq had pursued a banned weapons of mass destruction program. He says the hunt for evidence is a tough one. "We are pouring through documents, we are talking to people and more of this is going to come to the surface as time goes by," said Stephen Cambone. "It is a tough, laborious process."

Earlier in the day, the commander of U.S. Army troops in Iraq told reporters coalition forces have collected "plenty of evidence" that Saddam's regime had an active weapons of mass destruction program.

Lieutenant General William Wallace also said experts are now sorting through that evidence.

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